By Debbie Adams
Herman L. Horn Elementary welcomes several new faces to their faculty and staff this year.
Katy Balko is a Special Education teacher at HLH. She is from Greensburg, Pennsylvania—about 30 minutes from Pittsburgh. She graduated from Hempfield Area Senior High School, earned her Bachelor’s in Early Childhood and Special Education from Westminster College, and her Master’s in Educational Leadership from Radford University. This will be her 8th year in teaching.
She transferred from Fort Lewis Elementary to HLH this year and is “looking forward to a new experience. I am excited to get involved in the community and getting to know the students at HLH.”
“I enjoy dogs, hiking, working out, going on road trips, and learning new things. I’m also a Pittsburgh Steelers fanatic,” Balko said.
Lindsay Dornblaser is teaching third grade at HLH. She is from Reading, Pennsylvania, and moved to the Roanoke Valley with her family when she was two. She graduated from Lord Botetourt High School in 2016 and earned her Master of Arts in Teaching from James Madison University in 2021. (Go Dukes!) This will be her first year of teaching.
“While I was working towards my Masters, I was a grant coordinator for the Mixed Delivery Grant (MDG) and the Preschool Development Grant (PDG) in the Harrisonburg/Rockingham area,” Dornblaser said. “The focus of the grants was to create equitable access to high-quality childcare centers for families through collaboration with a multitude of community partners. I am looking forward to applying what I have learned in this experience to my teaching career!”
“It is very apparent to me that the staff at HLH staff goes out of their way to create a positive, welcoming environment for every individual in the community,” Dornblaser said. “Before I even walked into the doors at HLH, I was meet with generosity, kindness, and an abundance of helpful advice. Not only am I excited about working with my students, but I am also excited to have the chance to work beside supportive, wonderful people! I am so excited to build relationships with my students and help them grow!”
As for outside interests, “One of my favorite hobbies is metal detecting.”
Diane Lawson is a new nutrition associate at Herman L. Horn.
Mary Novick is teaching art to all grade levels at Herman L. Horn. She is from Boise, Idaho, where she graduated from Capital High School. She earned her BFA in Fine Arts with a major in Illustration from Boise State University and her Post Graduate Certificate for teaching. She has been teaching for seven years.
As for how she came to be in the Roanoke area, “We decided to move away from Boise and sell our house there. We have always wanted to live more out east, and I started to look at different states and counties that had awesome schools. I chose Roanoke County, applied, and got the position for here at HLH and Oak Grove as well.”
She is excited about working at Horn because, “everyone there is about helping kids. People seem genuinely caring.”
In her spare time, she enjoys basketball, tennis, hiking, and exploring outdoors.
Ashley Obenchain is the remediation teacher at Herman L. Horn Elementary School for 2021-2022. She will be focusing on reading and math with students in grades K-2. Obenchain is from Roanoke and a graduate of William Byrd High School. She earned her Master of Arts in Teaching from Liberty University. She has worked for Roanoke County Schools since 2017, serving as an Instructional Assistant, substitute teacher, remediator, and now, teacher.
“I am happy to be at HLH,” Obenchain says. “Everyone has been so kind and welcoming.”
“Outside of school, I enjoy spending time with my husband and our two dogs,” she said. “We are excited to be welcoming our first child in October!”
Bailey Price is a new Instructional Assistant at Herman L. Horn. She is from Roanoke and graduated from William Byrd High School with the Class of 2016. She graduated from Liberty University in 2020.
“I am excited to be teaching at a school in the town that I grew up in,” said Price.
Sadie Robertson is the new Nutritional Manager at Herman L. Horn.
Kat Stanley is teaching second grade at HLH. She is from Vinton and a graduate of WBHS with the Class of 2017.
“I grew up here and this is where home is! All my family lives in Vinton and it just feels right to be here and start the next chapter in my life with them by my side.”
Stanley graduated from the University of Lynchburg with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies.
“I went to elementary school at Horn and always thought how awesome it would be to teach here!” Stanley says. “I am beyond excited to be back at the elementary school I went to and experience it from a different perspective–as a teacher! Everyone at Horn is so welcoming and I could tell from the beginning it’s like a big a family! I am thrilled to meet my students and helped them grow inside and outside of the classroom!
In addition to being at HLH for her first year of teaching, Stanley will also be an assistant coach at William Byrd High School for Girls basketball. “Just like with my students, I am excited to be working with a great group of girls and mentor them to be the best they can be on and off the court.”
Laurie Tibbetts is a special education teacher at HLH. She was “born and raised” in the city of Westbrook in “the beautiful state of Maine,” and graduated from Westbrook High School.
Tibbitts earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Exceptional Children from Green Mountain College in Vermont and a master’s degree from Old Dominion University in Educational Administration. She has been involved in the field of education since 1984.
“I went to college in Vermont and then worked in Maine for ten years. While in Maine I lived and worked on an Indian Reservation a few years; I then moved to a traditional public school. At this school I had the opportunity to not only teach on the ‘mainland’ but also travel by boat to the Chebeague Island School. Ultimately, I moved to the Island and taught full time there until I moved to Chesapeake, Virginia.”
“While in Chesapeake, I taught students with specific learning disabilities for 10 years and received a Master’s in Education from Old Dominion University prior to moving into administration. I now live in Roanoke and am excited to be teaching again!”
“Upon deciding to move from Chesapeake to Roanoke, I was fortunate to interview with a number of schools in the city and county,” Tibbitts said. Ultimately, HLH offered the position that I accepted!”
“I am so excited to be at Herman L. Horn! The administration presents as being committed to the students and that dedication is contagious!”
Her message for the parents of her students, “I come to Herman L. Horn with many years of experiences in a variety of settings and am excited to share these with your child and with you. I appreciate the opportunity to work together in order to enrich and support your child’s education.”
Her daughter, Natanis has been living in Roanoke for six years. Tibbitts is excited that they are now living together in their own home, and “life is great.”
In her spare time, she loves to play with my two dogs (Jemma, a beautiful Boxer, and Beans, a wild Boston Terrier). “The three of us go camping and explore our new area with my daughter. I also enjoy taking pictures, reading, sewing, painting and fiber arts.”
Laurie Wilkins is not new to Herman L. Horn, but she has switched positions to become a Special Education teacher this year.
Jamie Worrell is teaching Kindergarten at Herman L. Horn. She is from Salem and a graduate of Salem High School. She graduated from Roanoke College with a major in History. She has taught for four years—one as a resource teacher and three as a Kindergarten classroom teacher.
“Roanoke County schools has a reputable name in the community.” Worrell said. “I wanted to work in a school where I could flourish professionally, but also feel safe and respected amongst my colleagues. HLH was a perfect fit! My instructional philosophy and goals align with the district and the school’s, so I am very excited to be here and learn from experienced professionals! Everyone has been so welcoming and helpful. I feel very supported here.”