Jay Cole, Michelle Richards-Babb and Sheri Petitte may — or may not — know how to navigate their way out of the deep woods with just a compass and their wits.
It’s also not immediately known if the area educators possess any of the other skill sets associated with the Boys Scouts of America.
The three, however, do know their way around a classroom.
And that’s why they’re receiving the organization’s loftiest merit badge, as it were, for the daily work they do in their field.
That’s the Elbert K. Fretwell Outstanding Educator Award, named in honor of the Columbia professor and youth development advocate who was the second to serve as chief scout executive for the Boy Scouts of America.
The Mountaineer Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, which serves the youth of north-central West Virginia, is recognizing the trio with the Fretwell award.
Fretwell (1878-1962), believed that working with young people meant making a vote for the future.
Which meant, he said, making society the best it can be in the process, by weaving the traditional ideals and values of scouting in the fabric of life.
Doing that, he said in 1931, didn’t have to be a grim chore.
“The problem of enabling our pupils to live in a democracy and to make democracy a fit place in which to live,” the academic and advocate said then, “is an insistent necessity, a delight, and a test of our ideas, of our technique and of our faith.”
Cole is a professor in the Honors College at WVU who also serves as a Truman Scholar faculty advisor and senior advisor to the president.
Richards-Babb is a chemistry professor at WVU and associate chair of the department.
Petitte, the principal of Ridgedale Elementary, is a veteran educator and administrator in Monongalia County.
The trio will be honored at the Mountaineer Area Council’s 10th annual Distinguished Citizens Dinner, which is Nov. 2 at WVU’s Erickson’s Alumni Center.
For more information on attending or sponsoring the dinner, visit www.macbsa.org.