Herman L. Horn Elementary welcomes new faces

By Debbie Adams

Herman L. Horn is welcoming eight new faculty and staff members for the 2020-21 school year.

Herman L. Horn welcomes new faces to their faculty and staff this year including (left to right): Tracy Forrester, Mitzi Keeley, Laura Wilkins, and Kathleen Notebaert.


New faculty and staff members at Herman L. Horn Elementary include (left to right): Chelsea Parrott, Kimberly Wingate, Taylor Farrar, and Monique St. Clair.

Principal Julie Sandzimier said, “We are excited about having children fill the classrooms and hallways again. We have put in precautions to help kids maintain social distancing in the hallways and classrooms, yet are working hard to make things as normal as possible.

“Two teachers will be doing only remote instruction for the year,” she noted. “A new and exciting adventure for students and staff.”

Taylor Farrar will be joining the staff at Herman L. Horn as an instructional assistant for PreK. She is from Lynchburg and graduated from Brookville High School. She earned a degree in Health Promotion from Lynchburg College.

Farrar says she came to be at HLH because “I decided to finally listen to my heart and follow the dream I’ve had since I was eight. I looked into openings with the school and jumped on board.” She has taught nutritional courses to mothers and children at the Department of Health for four months while interning.”

“It has been a dream of mine to teach and I am finally on the right path to fulfilling that,” Farrar said. “I am happy to gain the experience and skills that I will need.”

She came to Roanoke because “my friends are here, and I wanted to be near the mountains.”

As for her interests outside of school, “I absolutely love crafting. I have been attempting to make some cute DIY crafts for my new home. It is very therapeutic for me.”

Tracy Forrester will be teaching second grade to Herman L. Horn students who have opted for virtual learning, including students from HLH and other Roanoke County Schools.

Forrester and her family recently moved here from Richmond. Her undergraduate degree is from Emory and Henry College, where she majored in Interdisciplinary English– before education could be a major there. She earned her Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Tennessee. This is her 24th year in teaching.

“My husband‘s job moved us to Roanoke,” Forrester said. “I did a screening interview virtually in early March before the lockdown for the county. I was offered an interview at Herman L. Horn on a day I was already coming to town to look at houses with my husband. After the hiring freeze, and a lot of phone calls, I was offered the position!

“I am excited to meet the staff who seem very positive even in these struggling times,” Forrester said. “I am grateful to Mrs. Sandzimier for the opportunity.”

Forrester says because she and her husband attended Emory and Henry, they are somewhat familiar with this area. They have several friends from college who still live here.

“I have two beautiful daughters,” Forrester said. “One just graduated and is deferring her college experience for a year. She will attend Randolph Macon College next fall. My youngest is a rising sixth grader at Northside Middle School.”

Mitzi Keeley will be an instructional assistant at Horn. She is from Roanoke and graduated from William Byrd High School. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Roanoke College with a minor in Education.

She has been involved in education in different capacities, including as an assistant, teacher, substitute, and dance teacher.

“I am happy to be working at HLH because I enjoy working with children and have fond memories from William Byrd Junior and High School,” Keeley said.

Kathleen Notebaert is also working as an instructional assistant at Herman L. Horn. She was born in upstate New York and moved to Radford about 14 years ago. She has been living in Vinton for about two years. She graduated from Monroe Community College in Rochester, N.Y., with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management.

“We moved from Radford to Vinton two years ago because our children attended Roanoke Catholic School, and I taught Theology and was also a TA for fourth grade,” Notebaert said.  “We have a daughter who will graduate this year from Roanoke Catholic but felt HLH was a better fit for our fourth grader.

“I have been teaching religious education for 11 years at all grade levels from kindergarten to young adult,” Notebaert said. “I have worked in private school settings for about four years. Although I have volunteered in public schools, this will be my first job in the public sector.

“I adore working with children and being close to my youngest,” said Notebaert. “The fact that I could walk to work if I wanted to is a huge bonus! I am super excited and happy to be working at HLH! This will be an interesting year where I feel we will find new and exciting ways to teach. I have always been a ‘mom’ type person and hope I will be a huge help to our teachers so that our students can be the best versions of themselves!

“My sister worked for years in the Roanoke City school system. Tia McNair (now married) has always been here to help me be the best person I can be inside the classroom. I’m excited that she has moved back here to Hardy from North Carolina. My oldest daughter teaches second grade in Pulaski, so that she can be close to my parents there. When I moved South, everyone followed me!”

As for her special interests, “I make cold process soup and handmade cards. Give it some time and both will be floating around HLH not too long after I start. I adore gifting them and find everyone loves to receive little surprises!”

Chelsea Parrott is a new kindergarten teacher at HLH. She is from Iowa and moved to Roanoke last July with her husband and daughter. She studied Elementary Education, Spanish, and Linguistics at the University of Northern Iowa. She has taught for six years in Newcomer English Language in grades 5-12 and one year of preschool.

“I did a lot of research with the different schools in the Roanoke Valley upon moving here and was really pleased with the school community feel of HLH,” Parrott said.  “I noticed a lot of the newer staff had some connection or tie to the area and were excited to be back.  That tells a lot about the camaraderie of the school and community.  It reminds me a lot of the community I grew up in and now, living 15 hours away, it felt like home to me. I love the community/family vibe that is instant when you walk in and meet with staff.”

Parrott says she and her husband and 2-year-old daughter love hiking, biking, and running along the greenways.

“We think Southwest Virginia is so beautiful!” Parrott added. “I enjoy running, traveling, drinking coffee, and being around people.  I always love learning something new each day from someone.”

Monique St. Clair will be working as a preschool teacher at HLH.  She is from Roanoke and graduated from William Fleming High School. She received her Master’s in Elementary Education from Liberty University. She has 11 years of experience in education.

As for how she came to be at Herman L. Horn, “I have observed the classrooms when I worked for Head Start, and always loved the atmosphere at HLH. The environment is very welcoming, and everyone has the students’ best interests at heart.

“I love working with children and their families,” St. Clair said. “I have three children of my own, and I am always looking for opportunities to enhance my job knowledge and experience!”

Laura Wilkins will be working as an  instructional assistant at Horn. She is from Bedford and graduated from Jefferson Forest High School, then majored in Human Development and Elementary Education at Virginia Tech. She has been working in the field of education for 12 years.

“I am looking forward to a new adventure and meeting new people,” Wilkins said.

Kimberly Wingate will be teaching second grade at HLH. She is from Roanoke and a graduate of Northside High School. She went on to earn her Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from Radford University. She has been involved in the field of education for 15 years as a full-time teacher and substitute.

“I have heard what a great community Herman L. Horn is, and I am excited to be joining it!” Wingate said.

Volunteers from Vinton Baptist Church donated their time to marking off the HLH gymnasium to provide social distancing during afternoon pick-up for car riders.

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