The Salem School Board formally recognized South Salem Elementary School for earning the VIP Distinguished Achievement Award from the Virginia Board of education. Principal Margaret Humphrey and Assistant Principal Laura James were congratulated for their outstanding leadership and the staff of South Salem was commended for their commitment to providing excellent instruction for all students in a pleasant, caring, and nurturing environment.
The students and families of South Salem also are largely responsible for this honor for their continued hard work and support of education. Mrs. Humphrey accepted the honor for South Salem from School Board Chairman David Preston.
Dr. Joe Coleman was honored by the Salem School Board on Tuesday night for his 31 years of service. Coleman joined the division when it was created in 1983, and during his tenure he served as Principal of both G.W. Carver, and South Salem, as well as the Director of Assessment and Technology. The Board unanimously passed resolution #225 in Dr. Coleman’s honor.
Mike Crew was honored by the Salem School Board on Tuesday night for his 17 years of service to the division. Crew started with Salem City Schools as the Director of Budget and Business Services and later became the Director of EFP Software Project. The board unanimously passed resolution 226 in Crew’s honor.
Salem School Division Superintendent, Dr. Alan Seibert, is pleased to announce that Sara Epperly has been recommended to be an assistant principal at Andrew Lewis Middle School. Epperly is expected to receive formal approval from the School Board when it convenes for its May 13 meeting. She will fill the void that was created when Kirstine Barber was named Supervisor of Human Resources earlier this spring. Both Epperly and Barber will begin their new jobs on July 1.
“I share the Salem School Division’s philosophy that educators are called to serve children first and take care of every child, every day,” says Epperly. I will work hard to carry out these principles in my work at Andrew Lewis.”
Epperly is a proud product of the Salem School Division and a 2001 graduate of Salem High School, when she was known as Sara Page. She has three degrees from the University of Virginia – a Bachelor’s degree in Politics and East Asian Studies, a Master’s degree in Teaching and an Education Specialist degree in Administration and Supervision.
“We are excited to add Mrs. Epperly to our administration team at Andrew Lewis,” says Forest Jones, Andrew Lewis Principal. “She is a dynamic educator with rich experiences and ideas that will greatly benefit our teachers and staff.”
Epperly, who is proficient in both Mandarin and Spanish, is without question the only Salem Educator, in the 31 year history of the division, who has taught in China, Bangladesh and Charlottesville and also performed service work and lived in Poland, Argentina and New Orleans.
“I am so fortunate to have had many opportunities to travel and get to know diverse groups of people in different parts of the world,” she says. “As an educator, I hope to make a small world even smaller by sharing my experiences with my students.”
Since 2009, Epperly has been a classroom teacher at Charlottesville High School teaching Mandarin and Spanish. In addition, she served as the high school’s summer school principal in 2013, overseeing more than 300 students and 13 staff members.
“I am excited to return and serve Salem Schools, the education system that helped me learn and grow so much when I was a secondary student,” she says. “The leadership and faculty at Andrew Lewis constitute a dynamic team that I am proud to join.”
Dr. Alan Seibert
Salem School Division Superintendent
(540) 389-0130 - office
City of Salem Communications Director
(540) 375-4112 - office
“Kirstine's caring and compassionate nature and her highly successful experiences as a teacher and leader at Andrew Lewis Middle School equip her well for this new opportunity,” says Dr. Alan Seibert, Salem School Division Superintendent. “She is highly organized and always works with students, parents, and staff in a professional manner.”
The Human Resources office is the face of the school division when recruiting and employing teachers and staff and it is responsible for ensuring that all licensed staff members are highly qualified. It is also the primary point of contact for employees with inquiries ranging from routine employment questions to how to handle major life changes.
"I am excited for this opportunity and I look forward to working with current staff and helping to recruit, retain and hire highly qualified staff to continue the excellent tradition that is Salem City Schools,” says Barber.
Barber is a Harrisonburg native and a 2000 graduate of Turner Ashby high school in Bridgewater. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Virginia Tech and also secured a Master’s degree in curriculum and instruction while in Blacksburg. Barber also has attained her certificate in Educational Leadership with licensure from Radford University. She served the division for six years as a math teacher, and also has been a summer school principal, assistant track coach and most recently assistant middle school principal at ALMS.
"I want to thank Dr. Forest Jones and Jamie Garst, the faculty, staff and students at Andrew Lewis Middle School for the memories and experiences of the last nine years,” says Barber. “These years have truly shaped who I am as a person and as an educator, and I am grateful to all who I've had the opportunity to work with during this time."
Barber will replace Russell Holladay, who is retiring July 1 after 15 years in Salem and a total of 41 years in education.
The Salem School Board honored some of the Division’s top students at Tuesday’s night monthly meeting.
Eliza Bain, a sixth-grader at Andrew Lewis Middle School captured this year’s title on February 11.
Runner-up Maya Makked, from East Salem, joined this year’s other finalists Emily Snow from West Salem, Hope Wimmer from South Salem and G.W. Carver’s, Allison Oyler
The Board also honored two incredibly deep thinking students from Salem High School.
Jacob Beedle (left) and Thomas Legg (right) each earned second place honors at the recent Roanoke Valley Governor’s School for Science and Technology’s Project Forum. Beedle work was in Plant Sciences and Legg’s in Biochemistry, Chemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology.
The Salem School Division is pleased to announce that Kristyn Shepherd has been named principal at G.W. Carver Elementary School. The formal board approval of her internal promotion was made official at last night’s School Board meeting. She will begin her new position on July 1, 2014.
“I am very excited to join the faculty and staff at G.W. Carver as their new principal,” says Shepherd. “They have an outstanding teaching staff and a reputation of always putting students first. I look forward to working with assistant principal, Tomi Nave, to help the teachers continue that tradition of excellence.”
Shepherd has been an integral part of the Salem School Division since 1998 when she was first hired as a Special Education teacher at South Salem. After spending a dozen years in that role, she then became the division’s coordinating teacher for Special Education, and in 2010 she was appointed to her current job as assistant principal at East Salem Elementary.
Shepherd, who acquired both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Special Education from Radford University, will replace Dr. Joe Coleman, who is retiring at the end of the current school year. “Kristyn Shepherd is in the midst of a distinguished career and both her prior experience and considerable expertise were abundantly evident during the interview phase of the search process,” says Dr. Alan Seibert, Salem Superintendent of Schools. “G.W. Carver is a school with a rich history and a long legacy of extraordinary leaders and devoted teachers who have served generations of young people in Salem. Mrs. Shepherd will honor that history and build upon it in the years to come.”
In addition to Shepherd’s promotion, the Salem City School Board also approved the appointment of Hunter Routt as a new assistant principal at Salem High School.
“I can't speak highly enough of the faculty and staff of Salem High School and it is their commitment to excellence for all students that makes me so proud to accept this position,” says Routt. “I'm humbled by the opportunity to be a part of a wonderful team that has such a strong commitment to Salem's children.”
Routt has served a number of roles with the Salem School Division since coming on board in 1994. She has been a teacher, summer school principal, gifted coordinator and International Baccalaureate coordinator.
“Hunter brings to us 20 years of experience, an impressive instructional leadership background, amazing interpersonal skills, and, most importantly, a true desire to love and serve young people,” says Scott Habeeb, Salem High School principal. “As our International Baccalaureate coordinator, she already has made a positive impact on our school. In this new leadership capacity, she will have an even greater opportunity to enhance and grow the student-centered family culture we already have in place.”
Routt earned her Bachelor’s degree in education and psychology from Roanoke College and her Master’s in Educational administration from the University of Scranton. She replaces Sandy Hadaway, who recently retired after 31 years with the Salem School Division.
The Salem School Board approved one central office appointment, effective July 1, 2014. Jennifer Dean will be the division’s new Supervisor of Instructional Technology and Accountability. Her primary role will be to work with administrators and teachers to improve the division's use of testing data to inform and improve instruction.
This new position will merge the Assessment Oversight responsibilities that are currently handled by Dr. Coleman with the Instructional Technology leadership functions that were previously managed by an instructional technology resource teacher, who has retired.
“I am really looking forward to joining the City of Salem School team,” says Dean. “Student academic success is my passion and the opportunity to work with students, teachers and principals within this role will be exciting.’
Dean earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Roanoke College and her Master’s in
Educational Leadership from Radford University. Since 1995, she has been an educator for Roanoke City Public Schools, most recently serving as the Principal of Westside Elementary.
“We are excited to welcome Mrs. Dean to the Salem City School Division,” says Curtis Hicks, Salem’s Director of Secondary Education. “Her knowledge and experiences in the areas of technology, assessment and data analysis will benefit staff and students as we continue to strive to unlock the individual potential of every child.”
Dr. Alan Seibert
Salem School Division
(540) 389-0130 - office
City of Salem
The 2014 Salem School Division Teacher of the Year is a special recipient for a number of reasons, including her desire to help boys and girls in special education become success stories and her passion for positively molding elementary school students at G.W. Carver.
“Personally, I hope that I provide a caring and forgiving environment in my classroom,” says Debbie Hughes, Salem’s Teacher of the Year. “I strive to build my students’ confidence and self-esteem and encourage participation. I try to instill in my class that it’s important to learn from your mistakes and treat one another with respect, and I try to never forget that I am taking care of someone else’s children.”
Hughes has taught third graders at G.W. Carver Elementary for the past 14 years and she considers that somewhat ironic since that particular age group was by far her favorite during her year-long student teaching requirement as an undergraduate in college.
“I love that third graders are still very excited about learning, and I enjoy the curriculum,” she says. “Even though it is quite rigorous, most students achieve great success and growth, which is very rewarding.”
Third grade is the first year in which students actually receive letter grades in the classroom and experience the SOL tests. It’s also a time when Hughes works extremely hard to build self-confidence in her young pupils.
“Third graders are still young enough to where they want to please you all the time, yet they can be very independent at this age,” she says. “Sometimes they are very afraid of the third grade and it’s my job to show them they can do it and that everything is going to be alright.”
Hughes was born in West Virginia, but spent most of her life in Arlington before she headed off to college and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from Virginia Tech.
“While I was interviewing for my first job with the assistant superintendent in Warren County, the Special Ed. Supervisor overheard our conversation as I was talking about my interest in special education and my work at Camp Easter Seals,” she says. “They were desperate for special ed. teachers back then and they hired me without a degree and then paid for me to get my Master’s in special education.”
Hughes would teach during the day and then ride with other teachers back and forth from Front Royal to James Madison University to take classes at night. She did the majority of her course work at J.M.U. and then finished her requirements and graduated from Marymount University in Arlington. After a couple of years of 7th and 8th grade special ed. instruction in Warren County she taught middle school special ed. students in Fairfax before eventually moving to Salem.
By the time she and her husband, Jack, arrived in Salem in 1996, she had left the classroom to raise their four children. She did some tutoring and eventually began helping as a substitute teacher at all Salem’s six schools. Fourteen year ago, she returned to the classroom full-time in the Salem School Division as a third grade teacher and she’s been shaping young lives ever since.
“I always wanted to be a teacher,” she says. “I think all little girls play and pretend to be teachers and it just never left me, plus I always loved school.” At Carver, Hughes believes she is truly making a difference in the lives of young people.
“G.W. Carver provides the perfect climate for any student,” she says. “It is a beautiful, spacious school with a very caring and diverse group of people. We have a supportive administration and staff members who truly care about what is best for our children.”
Hughes is a firm believer in the African Proverb that says “It Takes a Village” to raise a child and she credits not only the administration, but her fellow third grade teachers. “Mrs. May, Mrs. Raines, Mrs. Travitz, and I have worked together for six years now and we collaborate daily sharing ideas, successes, and frustrations,” she says. “As a team we produce tremendous results and do all we can to bring out the best in our students.”
“Debbie has been an asset to the third grade team at Carver from the beginning,” says Joe Coleman, G.W. Carver Principal. “With 25 years of experience, her knowledge of curriculum, differentiation, developmental needs of children and her true understanding of special education provide the foundation needed to effectively reach all students.”
The administration at Carver has high praise for Hughes’ creativity and flexible thinking as well as her exemplary professionalism and her desire to follow her students’ successes as they move forward. “There are days I can sense my students are just not with me and then there are times when I am teaching and all eyes are on me and hands are raised with enthusiasm to answer questions or to give some input into a discussion,” she says. “That’s when I stop and think that this is a wonderful job and I truly love it.” Debbie and her husband have four grown children who graduated from Salem High School. All six teachers will be honored by the School Board during a special reception on March 25. The five Teachers of the Year representing the other five Salem schools are:
Carol Shields - Andrew Lewis Middle School
Laken Harrell - East Salem Elementary
Grant Smythers - Salem High School
Sandra Kelley - South Salem Elementary
Marcie Flinchum Atkins - West Salem Elementary
H. Alan Seibert
City of Salem
Superintendent of Schools
(540) 389-0130 - office
City of Salem
The Salem School Board recognized the efforts of this year's United Way campaign in the division at its November 12 meeting. More than $16,000 was raised during the campaign by using everything from traditional pledges to pie throwing. Student contributions were up 50 percent from the previous year.
(Left to Right - Dr. Mike Chiglinsky, Artice Ledbetter, Debbie Carter, Sandy Wierzbiz from the United Way, Sharon Franklin, Sally Southard and David Preston)