By Debbie Adams
Bonsack Elementary School has welcomed five new teachers for the 2021-2022 school year.
Joe Carnes teaches art at Bonsack for all grade levels K-5. He is from Salem and a graduate of Salem High School. He earned his degree in both English and Fine Arts with a minor in Elementary Education, and his teaching certificate at Roanoke College.
“I love teaching, and while I was already a teacher in Roanoke County, I have been trying to get into the Art Department for a couple of years,” Carnes said. “This year when Mrs. Lunsford retired, I was fortunate enough to be asked to join the Bonsack team as their new art teacher!
“I worked at a local architectural design firm for many years, but I decided to go back to school for a career change in teaching. I taught at nearby Herman L. Horn Elementary for the last three years as a third and fourth grade teacher. During that time, I also taught their after-school Gifted Art classes.
“Bonsack has an amazing art room! There is so much space for students to work and create! I am incredibly excited for the opportunity to share my love of art and art history with students! I can’t wait to start making beautiful messes at Bonsack!
“Now and then, I’ve had art pieces in some of the smaller local art shows over the last 10 years,” said Carnes. “I was one of the assistant artists that helped my friend–local artist Jacob Smith–build the pair of 12-feet-tall bike statues on display on Mill Mountain for Roanoke Parks & Recreation’s art installation, highlighting the local Blue Ridge bike trails.
“I enjoy being the Scoutmaster of a Roanoke Scout troop that includes both my son and daughter,” he said. “I love getting to use my teaching experience and my creative artistic side to develop fun, ‘outside-the-box’ programming ideas for Scouting to keep our young people excited about learning!”
Katie Garland will be working with both first and third grade students this year. She grew up in Botetourt County and graduated from Lord Botetourt High School. She earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology and her Master’s in Special Education Degree from Radford University. This will be her second year teaching Special Education.
She attended a virtual job fair with Roanoke County and was hired for the opening at Bonsack.
“I am happy to be working at Bonsack and working alongside others who share a love of teaching. I chose to teach because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of children.”
Ruth Davis-Leonard will be the PEAP (Pre-school Autism Program) teacher at Bonsack this year. She is from Roanoke and graduated from Roanoke Valley Christian School. She earned her B. S. in Special Education/Elementary Education from Liberty University. She has taught self-contained classes for seven years with students in kindergarten through third grade.
“I student taught here around eight years ago with Mrs. Francisco and fell in love with the school, staff, and students,” Davis-Leonard said. “I always hoped to be able to come back and work here one day, and now I am! The students, staff, and parents [at Bonsack] are simply amazing! I feel so supported and appreciated!
“Teaching is truly my passion, especially working with the population of students with special needs,” Davis-Leonard said. “They inspire me daily and are such a true joy to teach!”
Marie Summers is teaching kindergarten and fourth grade Special Education this year at Bonsack. She has lived in the Roanoke area for most of her life and graduated from Lord Botetourt High School. Summers graduated from Liberty University with a major in Elementary Education in Interdisciplinary Studies, then went to UVA-Wise to earn her Special Education License. This is her sixth year of teaching.
“I am excited to be working at Bonsack,” Summers said. “Everyone has been so welcoming and helpful. The atmosphere is fantastic.”
Outside of school, “I love Virginia Tech football and going on rollercoasters.”
Anna Randolph is a remediation teacher for third grade at Bonsack. She will also be working at Glen Cove Elementary.