VINTON–This year W.E.Cundiff Elementary School welcomes eight new faculty and staff members. They include Joy Gordon, Heather Oltmanns, Tyler Goodman, Lauren Guzman, Jessica Whitlock, Amanda Lee, Julia Ormandy, and Courtney Camden.
Joy Gordon is teaching third grade. She is originally from San Antonio, Texas, but has lived in the Bonsack area for eight years. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin (home of the Longhorns) and majored in elementary education.
She had been teaching at Bonsack Baptist WEEC for five years and when her husband recently made a career change to teach at Rivermont Schools she went back to public education as well. She has taught a total of 13 years with children ages three through fifth grade.
“I am excited about returning to a classroom setting,” said Gordon. “I have enjoyed meeting the faculty and staff and seeing some of the children that I taught at the preschool level.”
Gordon says she loves to garden and to read.
“I have three beautiful children–Emma who is starting William Byrd Middle, Kendall fourth grade, and Carson, first grade at Bonsack Elementary School,” she added.
Heather Oltmanns is also teaching third grade at Cundiff. She was born in Florida, but says she has lived in Virginia “a long time.” She graduated from Nelson County High School in Lovingston, and then from Radford University with a degree in elementary education.
Her daughters attend WEC and last year Oltmanns worked in the school as a long term substitute. She has been a teacher for about seven years.
“Last year working in the school, I got to see what a great school WEC is and how wonderful the staff is,” said Oltmanns. “It is a honor to be working at WEC!”
As for her special interests, “I love to spend time with my five children and husband and read.”
Lauren Guzman is teaching third grade special education at Cundiff. She is from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and graduated from Northeastern State University in Oklahoma. She taught for a little over a year in Oklahoma City Public Schools and then left teaching and entered the business world to pay off student loan debt. She applied and interviewed for the job at WEC this summer.
“I am happy to be back in education,” said Guzman.
“During my interview, and every time I have gone to WEC since then, it is apparent that I get to work with very passionate and caring people that are proud and protective of their community,” said Guzman. “I am happy to be a part of a school with a great reputation and that always strives to do whatever it takes for the kids.”
Her special interests are mountain biking with her husband and watching movies.
“I am one of nine children in my family; five girls and four boys,” says Guzman. “I got married in April and will soon be changing my last name to Collins if I can just make myself go to the DMV!”
Tyler Goodman is teaching fourth grade, all subjects. He is from Vinton and graduated from William Byrd. He majored in Interdisciplinary Studies at Radford University. This is his first year as a teacher.
As for how he ended up teaching at WEC, “W. E. Cundiff was my dream school ever since I graduated high school and wanted to become a teacher. “
“W. E. Cundiff is a great school,” says Goodman. “I am happy to come back to this school and teach students and watch them grow and develop into great students.”
Goodman is also the head junior varsity basketball coach and assistant varsity soccer coach at William Byrd High School.
Jessica Whitlock is the Instructional Technology Resource Teacher (ITRT) for all grades at W.E. Cundiff, and also for Bonsack Elementary and Masons Cove. She has been an educator for seven years.
She is originally from Mechanicsville, Virginia, and graduated from Radford University with a degree in Elementary Education.
Her husband served in the Army so they lived in Hawaii for the past three years.
“We decided we missed the New River Valley and decided to move back home to be with our families,” said Whitlock.
“I am so happy to be back working with students that live in Virginia,” said Whitlock. “This is such a great place to grow up, and I love that I get to share that with the students at WEC and other Roanoke County Schools. I also love that WEC is in the middle of the cute little town of Vinton.”
As for her special interests, “I am a huge Harry Potter fan! My dog and cat are both named after some of our favorite characters (Luna and Lupin) and my husband and I have traveled to Florida to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter when it first opened.”
Courtney Camden is teaching preschool at WEC. She is from Las Cruces, New Mexico. She majored in Early Childhood Special Education at Radford University and was hired by WEC principal Sherry Bryant before the end of the last school year for the Pre-K position.
While this is her first year in Roanoke County, she has been working with children for over 15 years.
“I love the people here,” said Camden. “Everyone is nice and it felt like family as soon as I walked in the door. I love working with children and helping them achieve their goals. It’s always special to help a child learn in a way they thought they never could.”
“My first day of school was not only special to myself, but it was a very special day for the Camden family–my son, Zachary, started kindergarten here at WEC this year, too,” said Camden. “I love teaching and to have my child in the same building is very special to me. My daughter, Lillian, just learned to walk at 9 months, too. Also, my husband, Josh, is trying to get into the school system as a math teacher. Family is the most important thing in life to us and I think it’s important to incorporate it into the schools.”
Amanda Lee is working as an interpreter at WEC, and Julia Ormandy is working as an instructional assistant.
There are some changes in store for the school building as well. Some construction is scheduled for Cundiff this fall. Funds were approved at a recent school board meeting for security improvements.
The School Board approved $66,000 for design and construction at WEC in “an effort to secure the open floor concept pods from potential intruders. The work will consist of the demolition of existing non-secure partitions, installation of doors, frames, exit signs, and similar renovations to improve security. WEC was built in the early 1970’s when the open classroom plan was trending—actually derived from the one-room schoolhouse concept.
Sherry Bryant continues this year as principal at WEC with Dana Stevens as assistant principal.