Judy Scruggs, 2008 winner of the Distinguished Teacher Award

Judy Scruggs, a Virginia elementary school teacher, was honored with the Mensa Foundation’s Distinguished Teacher Award in 2008. She was nominated for the award by a Mensa member and former student, Dr. Stephanie Elzy. Scruggs was Elzy’s second-grade teacher and taught subjects such as reading, writing, spelling, English, mathematics, science and social studies.

In her nomination essay, Elzy wrote that Scruggs was “an exemplary teacher attuned to students’ intellectual and emotional needs” and that “her greatest gift to me was music — she explained the meaning and value of notes, and I still utilize her instruction each time I play the harp, violin, piano or clarinet.”

The Distinguished Teacher Award recognizes a teacher, professor or instructor at any educational level who has had an especially positive influence on the education or life of a Mensa member; the educators can impact the Mensa members directly or as a result of their influence on the education of a dependent. The teacher selected for the award is presented with both a lucite and a cash award from the Mensa Foundation, and the corresponding school receives a plaque.

“To touch the lives of students is extremely rewarding, but also a profound responsibility,” said Scruggs. “Music has always been a passion of mine, and I often used it to teach certain concepts as well as to expose students to types of music they might not encounter otherwise. My favorite part of teaching was when a student had an ‘aha moment.’ Hopefully, I didn't just teach, but tried to guide students to discoveries on their own.”

Scruggs received a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Longwood College in Farmville, Va., in 1967. She taught for 33 years in various areas of Virginia including Virginia Beach, Prince George County, Winchester and Charlottesville.

Judy Scruggs (left) was presented the Distinguished Teacher Award by Karen Hensley, President of Thomas Jefferson Mensa.