VINTON–When Herman L. Horn teachers report for their first workday on August 14, they will be greeted by a familiar face—Peggy Stovall—who has been named acting principal. She has served as assistant principal since 2009 and was named to her new position when Principal Susan Brown moved to Burlington Elementary.
When they drive up the teachers will also notice some changes to the exterior of the site with landscaping improvements and the renovation of their track. On the interior, there is a new gym floor and 30 new laptops.
Stovall said that Chris Lawrence, Vinton’s Town Manager who has two children currently enrolled at HLH, and outgoing PTA president Kellay Harnish organized the landscaping project.
“The PTA decided to do a summer project of improving the school grounds,” said Lawrence. “Kellay Harnish came up with the idea and worked to get resources to improve the grounds, specifically weeding and mulching all the landscaping beds around the school.”
“This is a big task,” noted Lawrence. “I reached out to the Sheriff’s Office and they offered to use work crews to do all the major labor. The town provided tools for the workers. In the end, as a community we combined resources and really made a great improvement to the grounds.”
“The task was to weed, clean out all the beds, and apply mulch around the entire front of the building and near the playground,” said Stovall. “Our school grounds have never looked this well-groomed. We are very appreciative.”
The new hardwood mulch, purchased by the PTA is “kid-friendly,” and termite unfriendly.
The Roanoke County Sheriff’s Department contributed to the project with a work crew on July 18.
“Our inmates worked about five hours pulling weeds and mulching the school property,” said Chief Deputy Mike Warner. “We had 11 inmates assigned to the weekender work force to handle this project. When an inmate agrees to serve time on our weekender program, he/she agrees to work.”
Lawrence described the newly renovated outdoor track as a “great asset to the neighborhood,” used not only by students and staff at the school, but by the community at large.
Track renovations were paid for from the school capital funds. The original plan was to just resurface the track, but because of its condition the decision was made to install completely new asphalt and at the same time to widen the track.
As for what goes on inside the building, Stovall plans to continue the programs which have been working successfully at HLH. The focus will continue on STEM inquiry-based, hands-on learning. This year’s theme is “Solve it with STEM,” involving research on animals with interactive projects.
In past years HLH has adopted the “flooding concept” which provides two teachers certified in reading and math in each reading and math class at the same time. This allows for small group instruction to the benefit of the students.
Stovall said this strategy along with bi-weekly grade level data meetings has led to great success in working with a school population where 50 percent of the students are on free or reduced price lunch. Stovall said that they “talk kids” at the data meetings and the strategies necessary to meet the needs of those who are struggling and to insure continued progress for those who aren’t.
“Each child is served at their level,” said Stovall.
Her goal and that of her staff is to put students first.
“If I am doing what is best for students, I am sleeping good at night,” is her philosophy. “This may not always be best for myself, parents, or teachers, but I place the needs of students ahead of my own personal desires.”
Stovall grew up in Vinton and attended what is now Herman L. Horn herself. Back then it was named East Vinton Elementary. Her children also attended HLH.
She received her Bachelor’s degree in Early and Upper Elementary Education and a Master’s in educational leadership from Radford University.
She always knew “from Day One without any doubt” that she wanted to be a teacher.
Stovall said her father placed a great emphasis on education. He was drafted into military service and was unable to complete his education. She was the first in her family to get a college degree.
She began her teaching career in Roanoke County at HLH in 1980, moved to Roland E. Cook for two years, and then returned to HLH to teach fourth grade social studies until she was appointed assistant principal.
She and her husband Jeff, who works as a sales representative for State Electric, have two grown children–Amanda and Josh—and a brand new grandson, Maddox, born on July 7.
Meeting with new school superintendent Dr. Greg Killough and Dr. Rebecca Eastwood, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, they decided to hire two retired Roanoke County school administrators to serve HLH as assistant principals.
B.J. Brewer was the principal at Hidden Valley Middle School and then the Title I Director at Central Office and will work the first three days of each week.
Becky Rowe, who served as principal of the Roanoke County Career Center and is a well-known leader in special education in county schools will work on Thursday and Friday.
“Both of them live in the Vinton community, began their careers in Vinton, and have a wealth of experience to share,” said Stovall.
HLH has six new teachers this year. Stovall said the key to success is “people not programs” and that hiring and retaining good teachers is paramount.
Amanda Overfelt, who did her student teaching at HLH will be teaching one of four kindergarten classes. Meredith Vinson who has been an instructional assistant will teach first grade. Macy Snead who also did her student teaching at HLH will teach second grade.
Bethany Mitchell, a recent graduate of James Madison University, certified in special education as well as regular education, will be teaching Pre-K. Kendra Larew who has been teaching in Montvale for several years will teach third and fourth grade science and social studies. Lauren Glascock who has been a special education instructional assistant at Penn Forest will be teaching special education classes at HLH.
HLH is fortunate to have no change in front office faces who welcome visitors and let families know that “we love their children.” Brenda Mullins continues as secretary, along with Angie Kelly as secretary/bookkeeper.
Ashley Thomasson will be taking over as PTA president.
Teachers reported on August 14 to take part in a workshop on children who have undergone traumas. Stovall received gift certificates to be presented to teachers that day from many local businesses including Famous Anthony’s, Polished, Jerry’s Restaurant, Harbor Inn Seafood, Chick Fil-A, and Food Lion.
The school will be holding its annual Open House and Cook-out on August 20 from 4 to 7 p.m.
The Open House is their biggest event of the year–a social time for parents, especially kindergarten parents, to meet teachers and fellow parents.
Stovall said students are continuing to enroll in the days leading up to Opening Day on August 24. At this point first grade has the highest enrollment, and interestingly boys outnumber girls by far in kindergarten.
Stovall is brimming with enthusiasm for the new school year and anxious to get things underway.