Mignon Chubb-Hale: A lady of Roanoke leading through faith, education and history

Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 6:12 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - If you know Ronaoke resident and educator Virginia ‘Mignon’ Chubb-Hale, you know each picture in her home comes with a story.

“This here is a picture of my brother of course the name is there—my daddy—all of us,” said Virginia ‘Mignon’ Chubb-Hale.

Images telling tales of her time as a teacher and moments with her family.

“She played beautiful music and just was wonderful. And this right here is a picture of my mom,” said Chubb-Hale.

Chubb-Hale is the youngest daughter of Leon and Perneller Delaney Chubb. Everyone in her family made history in their own way and worked to change lives in Roanoke and within the Catholic Church community.

She grew up Methodist but later followed her father to the Catholic Church, when he joined St. Gerard’s Catholic Church, a place where she is still an active member.

“Now this here, this is my elementary school,” said Chubb-Hale.

Her family lived off Chesnut Ave. in the Gainsboro community of Roanoke. She attended Harrison Elementary, Booker T. Washington Junior High School, and Lucy Addison High School, graduating in 1961.

“And then I had such wonderful role models, my parents, and they just had such a high value of us getting an education,” said Chubb-Hale.

This is what led Chubb-Hale on a journey to becoming a teacher and one of the first Black educators to integrate Roanoke City Schools. She has made it her mission to uplift the next generation through education, history, and faith.

“I taught at the old Melrose and then when they integrated all of them, I went to Wasena,” she said.

She would go on to teach hundreds of Roanoke students in Virginia and across the world.

“I enjoy working with young people and parents,” said Chubb-Hale.

Chubb-Hale retired from Roanoke City Schools in 1997 after 23 years of working at Wasena Elementary, Lincoln Terrace Elementary and Addison Middle schools.

Chubb-Hale says her favorite subject is history because of what she and her family have lived through.

“Black history and history period. I just love it. Because it’s so enriching and then to be able to be hired by parks and rec to do the first Black history tour, that was exciting,” said Chubb-Hale.

Even after retiring, her history lessons from the classroom began to line the streets of Roanoke’s Gainsboro community. She helped start the ‘Gainsboro History Tour’ and has taken hundreds on a guided walk through sites that hold cultural, social, and political significance to the area.

“I know, I live that. You know, nobody didn’t have to tell me I lived that ride on the back of the bus-- whatever I lived, all of that, all my schools were segregated,” she said.

During the 1982-83 academic year, Chubb-Hale helped her students at Wasena Elementary School write a book titled “Outstanding Blacks in Roanoke Past and Present.” The book featured the stories of 18 African Americans who made an impact in Roanoke.

Chubb-Hale’s goal is to make sure the place where she grew up will never be forgotten, and the next generation knows education is key.

“That is my main for trying to enrich young people for a better tomorrow,” she said.

In addition to teaching, Chubb-Hale has been active with many professional, civic and political organizations, including serving on the boards of Roanoke City Schools, Roanoke Catholic Schools, the Harrison Museum of African American Culture, the Roanoke Valley Reservation Foundation, the Roanoke Chapter of the NAACP, and the SCLC.

She has also received many accolades, including the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award for Peace, Justice and Equality, the National Conference of Christians and Jews Award for Exemplary Life and Contribution to Brotherhood of the Community, and many more.