W.E. Cundiff Elementary School in Vinton starts off the 2018-2019 school year with several new staff members.
Angie Purcell now teaches first grade at WEC. She grew up in Martinsville but has lived in Roanoke for 16 years. She graduated from Radford University with a degree in Elementary Education, certified to teach grades K-5. She has eight years of teaching experience.
She spent several years as a “stay-at-home” mom and taught in Botetourt County and at Roanoke Catholic prior to accepting the job at WEC. Purcell says she wanted to work for Roanoke County Schools and was fortunate to be offered a position at Cundiff, which is close to her home in Bonsack.
“I am happy to be at Cundiff because I feel very connected to this community because two of my own children are William Byrd students,” said Purcell.
She and her husband have four children. Her oldest just graduated from William Byrd, one is at WBHS, one at William Byrd Middle School, and one at Bonsack Elementary.
Julia Webster is Cundiff’s school health nurse. She was born and raised in Roanoke and currently lives in Vinton. She graduated from William Byrd High School and majored in Nursing at the Jefferson College of Health Sciences.
“I am very honored to be working with #TEAMCUNDIFF,” says Webster. “I have a passion for nursing and working with the pediatric population. As a substitute school nurse for the county, I had the pleasure to come and work here some as a substitute. The staff was always very warm and welcoming, and I could tell that they loved their school and loved what they do. I feel blessed to now be able to share that with them.
“I love to support the community as much as I’m able and can attend events held and sponsored locally throughout Roanoke and Vinton and the surrounding areas,” said Webster. “You’ll find me cheerin’ on the Terriers on Friday nights during football season!
“Football is my favorite season!” said Webster.” Go Terriers! Go TCU! Go Redskins– my three favorite teams – high school, college, and pro. As a former Terrier cheerleader, I accept the call at the homecoming game each year to make my way back down to the track and dance to the Terrier Fight Song. It’s something I look forward to and my kids and husband get a ‘kick’ seeing me go down there!”
Jessica Brookshier is teaching fifth grade math and reading at Cundiff. She is from Salem and graduated from Salem High School but has been living in Roanoke County for several years.
She earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies at Radford University and now has four years of teaching experience.
“I have heard wonderful things about WEC and I am excited to be joining the staff,” said Brookshier.
Rebecca Ayers is an instructional assistant working with the kindergarten program this year at Cundiff. She is a familiar face in Vinton, working at Chalaine’s in Vinton for many years, at W.E. Cundiff previously, and at Kroger. She also owned “Becky’s Inspirations” on Pollard Street in downtown Vinton— an alteration, sewing and craft shop.
Sindy Presley is also working as an instructional assistant, supporting various grades. She was a student when WEC was known as Hardy Road Elementary, and a graduate of William Byrd High School. She has been working in education since 2000.
“I absolutely love my job,” said Presley. “I am excited to be back in Vinton.”
Nola Causey is teaching fifth grade math. She is from Roanoke and graduated from Roanoke Valley Christian Schools. She majored in English at Roanoke College, and minored in mathematics with a concentration in Spanish.
Causey has nine years of teaching experience.
“I am thrilled to be working at W.E. Cundiff because it is in the Vinton community,” said Causey, who has family in the area.
Jessica Duffy is another fifth grade teacher at Cundiff, teaching Language Arts and Global Studies. She is from Ridgeway and a graduate of Martinsville High School. She majored in Interdisciplinary Studies at Radford University with concentrations in English and Special Education. She began teaching in 2007 as a kindergarten teacher, taught first grade for eight years, and then moved to fifth grade two years ago.
She and her husband Josh have two sons—Jake, age 6, and Caleb,3. The family moved to Roanoke just last month “to begin this new and exciting chapter in our lives. We plan to make the ‘Star City’ our permanent home.”
As for how she came to accept a position at WEC, “My husband and I made plans to relocate our family to Roanoke. We have always loved visiting family and friends here. After applying with Roanoke County Schools and completing the initial panel interview, I received a call from Ms. McCallum for an interview. Accepting the job offer was a very easy decision for me. The WEC community is very special!
“I am very happy to be a part of the WEC community,” said Duffy. “From the moment I stepped through the doors of this school I could feel the warmth and sense of family that is WEC. “
Calena Wagoner teaches fifth grade science. She was born and raised in Roanoke and graduated from William Byrd. She earned her Bachelor’s in Sociology and her Master of Teaching in Elementary Education from the University of Virginia.
This will be her second year in teaching. She taught fifth grade last year.
“Since I went through Roanoke County schools, I think it’s extra special that I will be teaching at one,” said Wagoner. “A lot of my friends that I grew up with went to school here and it just feels like home. All of my family is still in Roanoke, along with several of my friends.”
In her spare time, Wagoner enjoys watching sports, being outside with her dog, or “reading a good book.”
Whitney Yost is teaching fifth grade as well— Global Studies and reading and is fifth grade Grade Level chair. She grew up in Salem and currently lives in the Cave Spring area. She graduated from Roanoke Valley Christian School; however, she attended Salem City Schools in grades K-11.
Yost majored in Interdisciplinary Studies at Radford University with a minor in Elementary Education. This is her ninth year in teaching.
“I came to Roanoke County Schools from Roanoke City schools,” said Yost. “My boys go to county schools, so I wanted to be on the same schedule. I interviewed with Ms. McCallum and fell in love with her and the school and couldn’t wait to be a part of the Cundiff Team.
“My husband, Aaron, actually grew up in Vinton, and went to W.E. Cundiff,” noted Yost. “So that makes it special to see where he grew up and his old stomping grounds because he would speak of it often. His grandfather, Dr. Yost, was a wonderful doctor in the area; and his grandmother, Mrs. Yost, was a teacher for over 25 years.”
“The staff is awesome–very welcoming and has gone above and beyond to make sure that I have everything that I need and feel comfortable,” said Yost.
Rebecca Bays is serving as the Special Education coordinator at Cundiff, working with all special education teachers throughout the school and specifically working with third grade this year, in addition to completing all coordinating responsibilities.
She is originally from Charleston, W.Va., but moved to Roanoke as a child and attended kindergarten at Herman L. Horn Elementary. She now lives in Vinton.
As for high school, “I was a part of: ‘Accept only the Best at WBHS.’”
She majored in Athletic Training at Roanoke College with a minor in Education and received her Master’s in Special Education from Mary Baldwin. This is her fifth year in teaching and her third year in the Coordinating position.
As for what brought her to WEC, “I am a Vinton girl at heart and I wanted to be home. I live less than a mile away from WEC. It was the easiest choice I have made in a long time. From the administration down, WEC is doing amazing things and I want to be a part of this community and school.”
Bays is currently serving in the Virginia Army National Guard.
She says there are “three things in life I love: I love spending time with my family; I love serving my state and my country; and I love teaching all students.”
She is a huge West Virginia University fan. Her top two favorite sports are basketball and football. She played basketball in college, starting at Marshall University and then transferred to Roanoke College.
“I am also a big Duke fan when it comes to basketball– Go Blue Devils!” says Bays.
“Since I can no longer play basketball, I have started officiating college basketball,” she added. “It brings a different view to the game for me and has helped keep me active.”
In her spare time, she loves hanging out with her six nephews and nieces. “Being an aunt is one of life’s greatest joys!”
Allison Hankins works as an instructional assistant in the preschool program.
She graduated from Virginia Tech with a Bachelor of Science in Human Development. She has her Master’s in Healthcare Administration from the Jefferson College of Health Sciences.
“Since graduating from Virginia Tech, I have been a lead preschool teacher at a non-profit early learning center in Blacksburg,” Hankins said.
She worked as a substitute in Roanoke County during the 2018 spring semester.
“After subbing at W.E. Cundiff a couple times, I really enjoyed the school and the staff,” said Hankins. “Everyone was friendly and welcoming.
“I am so excited to be working at WEC!” said Hankins. “I am still new to the area and excited about meeting new people and being part of the WEC community. I absolutely love working with kids and know WEC will be an awesome environment.”
She is originally from Lynchburg but moved to the Roanoke area with her husband Daniel last December after living in Blacksburg for six years. He is the new store manager at the Valley View Target store.
“We love spending time with our families at Smith Mountain Lake,” said Hankins. “We also love cheering on the Hokies during football and basketball season!”
Ashley McCallum is in her second year as principal at W.E. Cundiff with an enrollment of approximately 530 students and around 80 on staff.