Retired physician receives Dr. Samuel Robinson Award

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At its meeting June 5, the Kentucky Board of Education presented the Dr. Samuel Robinson Award to Dr. Chandra Varia, second from left, a retired physician from Floyd County.
At its meeting June 5, the Kentucky Board of Education presented the Dr. Samuel Robinson Award to Dr. Chandra Varia, second from left, a retired physician from Floyd County. Presenting the award were, from left, Kentucky Board of Education Chair Hal Heiner, Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis and Floyd County Superintendent Danny Adkins.
Photo by Danielle Harris, June 6, 2019

(FRANKFORT, KY) – At its meeting June 5 in Frankfort, the Kentucky Board of Education presented the Dr. Samuel Robinson Award to Dr. Chandra Varia, a retired physician from Floyd County.

Since 2004, the Dr. Samuel Robinson Award has been given to an individual or group in Kentucky for outstanding leadership, commitment and service in promoting equity and opportunity to learn at high levels for all Kentucky students.

Varia has served on the Floyd County Board of Education since 2001, where she has not only donated her time to the betterment of Floyd County education, but also her money in the hopes of changing the lives of the local children.

Upon moving to Floyd County in 1971, Varia opened up her medical practice, where she delivered more than 3,000 children. She has donated to the local community college to fund education for single parents and made a large donation for no-interest student loans, specifically to assist women that have been victims of domestic abuse in receiving their education. Varia also has established a scholarship for the 3,400 children that she delivered and created a scholarship fund of $1.6 million for other colleges and universities throughout Kentucky.

Danny Adkins, superintendent of Floyd County schools, nominated Varia for the award. He said that Varia deeply cares for all influences on children’s lives and that she wants students to see possibilities where others would see roadblocks

“Whether providing warm coats, school supplies or groceries, to paying the heating bill, Dr. Varia is ready to help and to remove obstacles to student learning.” Adkins said.

Varia has donated to the East Kentucky Science Center with the stipulation that every child in Floyd County receives free admission once a year. This has removed the financial burden from schools to visit the facility. Varia has gone and toured with the students on multiple occasions.

“Dr. Varia cares about and does something about children’s education, nourishment, clothing, family and home life in addition to trying to help provide new and wonderful opportunities for kids,” Adkins said. “She does everything possible to close the achievement gap for children. … There is no one more passionate about serving and helping kids become educated and become leaders.”

Dr. Samuel Robinson, for whom the award is named, is a former educator who served on the Kentucky Board of Education from 1991 to 2004 and is known for being a racial and social justice advocate and for promoting the difference education can make in the lives of all students.

Past Recipients of the Dr. Samuel Robinson Award

  • 2004 – Sen. Gerald A. Neal of Louisville and the One Community, One Voice Achievement and Closing the Gap Community Committee of Fayette County (joint recipients)
  • 2005 – Robert Smotherman, superintendent of the Bardstown Independent school district
  • 2006 – Marlene Helm, former interim dean of the Eastern Kentucky University College of Education, and Rep. Frank Rasche of Paducah (joint recipients)
  • 2007 – Kathy Reed, member of the Bardstown Independent school board
  • 2008 – Laura McGrail, lead school psychologist for the Henderson County school district
  • 2009 – Arriba Ninos (Upward Children) program of Shelbyville and First Baptist Church Bracktown in Fayette County (joint recipients)
  • 2010 – Helen Mountjoy, former secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet
  • 2011 – Robert Sexton, former executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence (posthumous)
  • 2012 – Gregory Ross, former principal of McNabb Elementary, Paducah Independent school district, and Kern Alexander, former president of Murray State University and Western Kentucky University (joint recipients)
  • 2013 – The Fayette County Equity Council and Ronnie Nolan, director of the Kentucky Educational Collaborative for State Agency Children (joint recipients)
  • 2014 – Cindy Heine, retired associate executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, and Henry Webb, superintendent of Floyd County Schools (joint recipients)
  • 2015 – Award not presented     
  • 2016 – Playhouse in the Park/Murray-Calloway County Community Theater and the Partnership Institute for Math and Science Education Reform at the University of Kentucky (joint recipients)
  • 2017 – Kentucky Educational Television (KET) and the YMCA of Central Kentucky (joint recipients)
  • 2018 – Black Males Working (BMW) Academy program

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