By Debbie Adams
W.E. Cundiff is starting off the 2022-2023 school year with eight new members of the faculty and staff.
Laura Bray will be working as an instructional assistant at Cundiff. She is a native of Vinton and graduated from William Byrd High School with the Class of 2010. She is studying at Liberty University and has three years of experience in the field of education.
“My kids go to Cundiff, and I started subbing there and fell in love with the students, staff, and atmosphere of the whole school!” Bray says. “I’ve always dreamed of being a teacher and I love the extra experience.”
As for her interests outside of school, Bray says she loves any and all dogs, loves to cook, and her favorite things involve the OBX with her family.
Anna Bui is teaching second grade Special education at Cundiff. She lives in the Cave Spring area of Roanoke and graduated from Hidden Valley High School. She earned her degree in elementary education from Radford University. This will be her second year as a Special Education teacher.
As for how she came to be at Cundiff, “Ashley McCallum was my brother’s elementary school principal at Green Valley Elementary, and she developed an amazing relationship with him. In fact, when I went in for my interview, Ashley still had the picture frame my brother had made for her when he graduated fifth grade. I was super excited when I saw that W.E. Cundiff had an opening, and I was going to have the opportunity to work with Ashley.
“This job is one of the rare jobs that every day you are making an impact somewhere, somehow,” Bui says. “I love that I can go in and make an impact in a student’s life every day in some small way.”
Bui was married in June. Her maiden name was Buchanan and her students called her “Ms. B,” so “my name is still ‘Mrs. B.’”
Eric Gregg is a Special Education teacher working with fourth and fifth grades at WEC. He is from Roanoke and graduated from Hidden Valley High School. He majored in history at Ferrum College. He has his Master’s Degree in Special Education. This is his ninth year in education and his fourth year of teaching Special Education. He was working at Glenvar High School last year under the CARES Act and interviewed at Cundiff toward the end of school year.
Gregg says he loves “seeing the reward of a student succeed and helping them get to that moment.”
As for outside of school, he has a 5-year-old son and loves watching football.
Juliet Harris is teaching third grade Language Arts at W.E. Cundiff this year. She is from Fincastle and graduated from James River High School. She earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies-Elementary Education from Roanoke College. She started her teaching career in Alleghany County teaching first grade for two years and second grade for one year.
“After three great years teaching in Alleghany County, I was looking to be closer to all my loved ones in the Roanoke Valley,” Harris says. “Once I met with the wonderful administrators, I realized W.E. Cundiff is where I am meant to be. I’m thrilled to be part of Team Cundiff!”
As for why she became a teacher, “I love watching my students grow and succeed. There is something undeniably rewarding about witnessing learning unfold while teaching both academic content and social skills to the future of America.”
Harris says that “fitness” is one of her favorite pastimes and she is excited to coach the new Girls on the Run chapter at Cundiff this fall. Their season begins in September.
Lisa Huffman will be teaching art to all grade levels at W.E. Cundiff for the 2022-2023 school year. She is originally from San Antonio, Texas, and graduated from San Antonio Taft High School. She moved to Austin at the age of 25 where she met her husband and started her family. Huffman is a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio. This is her 17th year in teaching.
Her husband is from Blacksburg and wanted to return to the Blue Ridge Mountains, so they moved back to this area, and she found a teaching position.
“I love art and I love people,” Huffman says. “I love older children and the little guys. I love them all.”
As for her other interests, “I love to paint and draw. I’ve been to 15 different countries and plan on seeing more. I’m the 10th removed great step-granddaughter of Blackbeard (my 10th removed grandmother married him after her first husband died). I’ve read over 100 books on the topic of near-death experiences, because they fascinate me. I was once an all-state softball pitcher and collegiate athlete. I coached high school softball for a while as well.”
Rachel Roark is teaching fifth grade math at Cundiff this year. She is from Portsmouth and a graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education (Liberal Studies) from Longwood University. This is her second year in teaching.
As for how she came to teach in Roanoke County and at Cundiff, “I had heard such great things about the county as well as the administration team here at Cundiff,” Roark said. “I fell in love with the school as soon as I interviewed!”
She chose to become a math teacher, specifically an elementary math teacher, “because I love working with children and it has always been my passion to make a difference in the lives of our children.”
Her favorite hobby is reading.
Julia Van Nutt is the speech pathologist this year at Cundiff. She will be working on helping students with speech and language difficulties. She comes from Collinsville, near Martinsville, and graduated from Bassett High School in Henry County. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia, with a major in Communication Sciences and Disorders. She has been a Speech Pathologist for five years.
She chose her profession because “everyone has a voice and should be able to use it to express their ideas, wants and needs! I love and feel honored that I get to help kids find it.”
Her interests include musical theatre, Zumba, and traveling.
“I spent two weeks over the summer on a cross-country road trip starting here in Roanoke and finishing in San Francisco, California!” Van Nutt shares.
Jennifer Smith is the Special Education coordinator at W.E. Cundiff this school year. She is from Clovis, California, and a graduate of Buchanan High School there. She graduated from California State University in Fresno with a major in Liberal Studies and teaching credentials in Multiple Subject K-6 and Education Specialist K-12. She has seven years of experience as a Special Education teacher and four years as an instructional assistant.
As for how she came to be at Cundiff, “My family and I moved to Roanoke from Washington State to follow my husband’s career. For the last year, I have stayed at home with my young son. This year we found out we are staying in the area, and I felt it was time to get back into my career and serve in this community. I am excited to be a part of W.E. Cundiff!
“I have always wanted to be a teacher,” Smith says. “I have worked with kids in the babysitting, summer camp, coaching, and education world for as long as I can remember. I have always loved the field and each step and experience brought me closer to knowing that education would be my career. As an undergraduate, I was an instructional assistant in Special Education and that is when Special Education became my passion.”
Outside of school, Smith says, “I love the outdoors! Although I am coming from the West Coast, I have always been happiest when outside in nature. My family and I spend a lot of time outdoors and found that the Roanoke community is a perfect place for us to land!”