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Steve Knighton: Remembering Tom McJunkin


I realize that nothing is ever certain — especially in the domain of public education — but we have a truly extraordinary public-private partnership in place here and I confess to being very excited about the potential for some very good things to result from these efforts.


These words were part of an email sent to me by my friend Tom McJunkin in 2009. Embedded within the email are the tenacity, purpose and zeal he manifested to enhance public education. He was the architect for a proposal designed for children and directed by caring adults to augment opportunities for a more hopeful future full of a respect for scholarship and a passion for learning.

Tom seemed compelled to champion for the impoverished and the underdog. He knew that education was the key not only to unlocking their potential but also a very substantive component of America’s continued vibrant success as a democratic country. He elected to devote large portions of his time and talent to investing in these ideals. The children who benefited rarely knew his name or his involvement in changing their lives.

Although Tom was the face of Education Elevators he never wanted the limelight or the recognition for cobbling this hugely successful program together, but instead used his considerable influence to recruit and convince bastions of industry to direct resources in ensuring the American dream for hundreds of youth throughout the county.

His daily presence is now evidenced in the faces of the children continually supported, encouraged and mentored by the army of current Education Elevators. He would thank you for your continued sacrifice and your undaunted fervor in touching the lives of these challenged children and their families.

Steve Knighton is the retired principal of Piedmont Elementary School in Charleston, and a friend of Tom McJunkin, who died in October of 2011.