Reston Founder Robert E. Simon, Jr. admired Margaret Boyd, long-time Reston resident, diversity ambassador, youth counselor, indomitable volunteer and decorated, 53-year elementary and middle school teacher. Simon would often visit her classroom because she was a poster child for the importance of education.
She was the personification of everything that Simon devoted his long life to: dignity of the individual, cultural and ethnic diversity, community, youth education and leadership.
Diversity and a multicultural heritage permeated her DNA: her mother was part Cherokee, her father Mexican-American. Born 1936, the second of six children, in Ardmore, Oklahoma, Margaret Louise Smith was raised in a strong family of educators. Education was to become her destiny. Following her 1957 graduation from Langston University, Langston, OK, she opened Smith’s Kindergarten.
Two years later, Smith married her childhood sweetheart Donald G. Boyd, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army. Her first real teaching job came the next year at the American dependent school in Heidelberg, Germany. She adored the cultural diversity of life in Europe where she and Donald travelled extensively for the next six years.
When they returned to the U.S. for Donald’s Pentagon assignment in 1970, Margaret discovered Reston’s openness, welcoming cultural diversity and sense of community. It was a perfect fit. They bought a home in Lake Anne’s Regency Square. Margaret wasted little time getting involved in Reston’s active educational community.
For the next 37 years, Boyd’s tireless enthusiasm and desire to make her students’ lives more productive was showered on K to 6th grade students at Forest Edge, Terraset, Lake Anne Elementary in Reston, Oakhill Elementary, Herndon, West Briar Elementary, Vienna, and Herndon Middle School. Teaching was her whole world. But it didn’t stop there.
She joined the Reston Community Association (RCA) Board in 1975. Recognizing her success with troubled youngsters, Supervisor Martha Pennino appointed Boyd to the Juvenile Detention Board in Alexandria. In 1985, she founded the Fairfax County Youth Leadership Program to help teens learn leadership skills. For the next 8 years, she taught classes during the summer at an international leadership conference in Ossipee, NH. During these years, she also served on the board of the National Association for Teaching Entrepreneurship.
“I always tried to help my students find a good self-image.”
“Martha Pennino was a very special friend of mine,” Boyd said in a recent interview. “She was always supportive of my work, and, in 1990 nominated me to be a recipient of the Hunter Mill nominee for Lady Fairfax during the Fairfax Fair.”
For the next four years, to celebrate Thanksgiving Boyd staged an international Thanksgiving dinner at the Hidden Creek Country Club, inviting Reston families from many countries to share the story of Thanksgiving.
In 1996, she founded English as a Second Language for Professional Development (ESLPD), a consulting firm to serve area businesses by providing classes to employees who need to improve their English language skills to better perform their jobs. Her first client contract was with the Reston Hyatt Regency Hotel.
Boyd is the Best of Reston, an award she won for her dedication to youth education the very first year 1991 of the Best of Reston Awards Program, launched by today’s Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce.
That same year Boyd founded Reston’s Multicultural Festival which, in October celebrated its 25th anniversary. Every October for the past 25 years, the Reston community is invited to “Discover the World” at the Reston Multicultural Festival. Created by the Reston Community Center, this signature Reston event honors the cultural diversity that is one of the community’s greatest assets, and brings to life the vision that Reston founder Robert E. Simon had for this unique place.
“Margaret is a strong believer that cultural and ethnic differences are special and are an opportunity for all of us to broaden our worldwide knowledge to live peacefully with one another,” said Catherine “Cathy” Hudgins, Hunter Mill District member of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and long-time friend of Boyd. “Margaret has taught us all that students learn more when they are surrounded by diversity.”
“Students learn more when they are surrounded by diversity.”
“One of the best friends Reston youth have ever had is Margaret Boyd,” added Ken Plum, a long-time member of the Virginia House of Delegates. “Some met her in the various elementary schools in which she taught. Others met her in the many after-school tutoring and enrichment programs of which she was a part. She loved young people, and she valued education. No one pursued a passion with more gusto than Margaret. A lot of people and our community are better for her work.”
“Almost forty years ago, Margaret Boyd entered my life in a significant way: she was my son’s second grade teacher,” said long-time Virginia Senator Janet Howell. “And what a loving, kind, competent teacher she was! She developed a close bond with every child and engaged the families. Her classroom was welcoming to children of all backgrounds and she held every child to high standards.
“Her special talent was with children with disabilities, both educational and economic. Her reputation was so stellar that we fought to get our kids in her classroom. Her commitment to kids went way beyond the classroom — for decades she has mentored kids throughout Reston and devoted untold volunteer hours to enhancing their futures. She never stops loving and guiding our young Restonians. And they love her back,” Howell concluded.
Although her childhood sweetheart Donald is gone now, Margaret Boyd today is a vibrant, beaming 80-year-old living high above Reston Town Center in a beautiful condo whose walls are covered with awards – recognition of her lifetime of good works helping young people believe in themselves. The father of the automobile Henry Ford is known to have said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” To paraphrase Ken Plum, Margaret Louise Boyd will never grow old because no one believed in youth with more gusto than Margaret.