By Debbie Adams
Bonsack Elementary School welcomes two new staff members this year: Liz Aker, the new school psychologist, and Katelyn Sorrells, who teaches Special Education.
Aker is from Charlotte, N.C. She graduated from Virginia Tech with a B.S. in Psychology and a certificate in Human Development. Her father and brother are both Tech grads as well, so she grew up spending many fall weekends in Blacksburg at football games. She is currently a graduate student at Radford University.
When she was interviewed for a position with Roanoke County Public Schools, “I mentioned a preference and passion for working with younger students within Roanoke County and I was able to be placed at Bonsack,” she said.
“I have worked with students with disabilities in a summer camp setting for over 10 years,” she noted. “I also have been a youth volleyball coach for the last five years. I didn’t get into the schools until pursuing my graduate degree from Radford. I’m excited for this experience! I think Bonsack will be a great setting for me to continue my education and growth within school psychology.
“I will graduate from Radford with an Ed. S. degree in school psychology in May 2021,” Aker said. “While being in Roanoke County at Bonsack, I will also be assisting the Virginia Tech Men’s Club lacrosse team as a conditioning coach with my partner. I also work at a local brewery, Moon Hollow Brewing Company, in Blacksburg.”
Aker will also be working at William Byrd High School.
Katelyn Sorrells will be teaching Special Education with first and fifth grade students. She is from Lexington and graduated from Rockbridge High School in 2014.
She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education (PreK-6) from Longwood University in 2018 and her Master of Science in Special Education (General Curriculum K-12) from Radford University in 2019. She is a first-year teacher.
“I’ve always wanted to teach in Roanoke,” Sorrells said. “I interviewed with several Roanoke County schools and felt like Bonsack was the best fit. The administration and staff I have met so far have been super friendly and helpful,” she said.
Sorrells added that she is excited to get her teaching career started and to form relationships with the students and staff at Bonsack.
“Growing up, Roanoke was the closest place with lots to things to do and places to shop, compared to my small town of Lexington,” Sorrells said. “I’ve always loved the Roanoke area and I am so excited to now be living and teaching here!”
Although Bonsack students feed into William Byrd Middle and High Schools, the school is actually located in the Hollins Magisterial District of Roanoke County. David Linden is the School Board representative for the Hollins District.
“Having visited Bonsack twice in the last two weeks, it is nice to see how excited the faculty and staff are to welcome students back to school,” Linden said. “So much preparation has gone into making the 2020-21 school year an enjoyable and educational experience, and the teachers are ready to implement the plan.
“While this year will be unlike any other, the teachers at Bonsack have embraced the challenges and have maintained such a positive attitude,” he noted. “Principal Leanne Leftwich has been instrumental in leading the teachers and staff through all the Covid-19 related changes we have made, and we are looking forward to a successful school year.”
It was announced in June that Bonsack Elementary earned the 2020 Virginia Board of Education Highest Achievement Award under the state board’s Exemplar Performance School Recognition Awards program.