New director is veteran educator

Sharon Arey

During her 31 years with Shenandoah County Public Schools, Sherry Arey saw what homelessness does to young students.

“They worry about where they will sleep that night, whether they will have enough to eat,” said Arey, who began work Monday as the executive director of Family Promise.

“Family Promise can be an anchor for those children and their families, knowing they will have shelter, food to eat, someplace to go after school,” said Arey. “It can remove the worry.”

Arey retired three years ago as principal at W.W. Robinson Elementary School in Woodstock after beginning her career in 1981 as a classroom teacher.

“I wasn’t quite done yet,” said Arey, 56, about taking on a new career.

“I have had three years to think about what I wanted to do and I got excited when our church started talking about Family Promise.”

A parishioner at Wakeman’s Grove Church of the Brethren for 20 years, Arey has worked with youth church groups, teaching Sunday school twice a month, and has served on numerous youth-oriented committees.

Mona Riggs, a receptionist at W.W. Robinson, worked with Arey for more than 10 years and remembers her fondly.

“She considered them all her kids, all 1,200 of them,” said Riggs. “She is a very caring and very giving person.”

Arey, a native of Basye, proudly states her daughter just graduated from George Mason University.

“Families are dear to me and as an educator I want to be able to give homeless children security and help their families get back on their feet,” she said.

Arey is a graduate of Stonewall Jackson High School and graduated from Bridgewater College in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She later added a master’s degree in reading and an endorsement in administration from James Madison University.

She spent Monday meeting with volunteers and others getting oriented, “so we are ready to start in January.”

The Rev. George Bowers, president of the Family Promise Board of Directors, said she was hired because of “her experience working with children in need while serving in public education, and her heart and passion for people. She knows a lot of people in the community and she helped a lot of kids at W.W. Robinson.”

Tom Crosby is a freelance writer and former communications director for AAA Carolinas. Contact him at news@nvdaily.com