By Debbie Adams
William Byrd High School reopened on August 24 with many modifications in scheduling, health guidelines, traffic patterns, and social interactions. Students disembarked from buses and cars sporting masks. Their temperatures were checked by the staff members who awaited them. All in all, things went pretty smoothly – given the unprecedented changes due to COVID-19.
Along with new procedures, WBHS has welcomed several new faculty and staff members for the 2020-21 school year.
Ryan Adams will be teaching Pre-AP Biology and College Bound Chemistry. He is from Bluefield, Va., where he graduated from Graham High School. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences with a minor in Chemistry from Virginia Tech, as well as his Master of Arts in Education, Curriculum, and Instruction.
“After talking with the Supervisor of Science, I became very interested in Roanoke County Public Schools,” said Adams. “I spoke with Mrs. Newcomb and became very interested in the opportunities that are available at WBHS.”
Adams says he “found my passion for teaching when I became a teaching assistant for two years at Virginia Tech. “I have heard many great things about WBHS and I look forward to working with both the staff and the students.”
Joshua Camden will be teaching Special Education as a co-teacher in English 10. He is from Natural Bridge and graduated from Rockbridge County High School. He went onto earn his degree in Criminal Justice from Radford University, where he is currently working on his Master’s in Special Education.
Camden worked for eight years in law enforcement after college and then substituted for two years before joining the school system full-time at Cave Spring Middle School for the second half of last year.
He says everyone at WBHS has been “really nice and welcoming.”
Camden is a “really big sports guy” and hopes “to get a chance to be a part of sports at WBHS.”
Ciara Carr will be teaching two classes of Art I at WBHS this year and also working at Northside Middle. She is from Northern Ireland and graduated from the University of Ulster with a degree in Art/Art Education. She has taught art in the Roanoke Valley since 2002 and in Roanoke County Schools since 2018.
“I have been working part-time at Northside Middle for the past three years,” Carr said. “I requested to have my schedule filled to be full-time this year and was delighted to find out that there was a need for an extra art teacher at Byrd. I’m excited to join a wonderful and talented art department with Denise Sartell and Allyson Goin.”
Cortney Cooper will be working with Special Education classes as an instructional assistant on all grade levels. She is from Roanoke and a graduate of Cave Spring High School with the Class of 2013. She has a degree in Sports Management from Liberty University.
“I came to William Byrd because I knew I wanted to get into teaching,” said Cooper. “I knew William Byrd would provide me the experience necessary as I figure out what I would like to teach and get my certifications. I absolutely love it! The community and the people are incredible and I’m truly glad to be a part of it.”
Her hobbies are softball, golf, and basketball. She also swam in high school.
“I am hoping to get involved in athletics here at William Byrd,” Cooper said.
Jacob “Spike” Geffert will be teaching Electricity and Electronics, Digital Photography, Auto CAD, and Woodshop to mostly freshmen at William Byrd. He is from Martinsburg, W. Va., and earned his Bachelor of Architecture degree from Virginia Tech. He moved here in 2014 for his first job out of college and has “loved being in the Roanoke Valley. I have met incredible people, as well as my soon-to-be bride!
“I was looking to enter the teaching profession after several years in the construction and architecture field,” Geffert said. “An opening became available that really excited me, and thankfully I was chosen for the job.
“This is my first year as a full-time teacher,” he said. “For the past two years, I have been a math tutor at Westside Elementary School. I have also been coaching high school baseball for the past five years: three years at William Fleming High and two years at Hidden Valley High (where I am currently coaching).
“I am very excited to work at WBHS,” he said. “Everyone that I have talked to about this job has expressed high praise for the faculty and staff. Also, there seem to be many opportunities in which to engage with the students in different forms.”
Geffert is “an avid gamesman: sports, video games, board games, whatever. I am an amateur board game designer and I have built and maintain a Human Foosball Court!”
Alisa Goodwin will be working as an instructional assistant. She is from Roanoke and a graduate of William Fleming High School. She graduated from Old Dominion University in 2006 with a BS in Human Services Counseling. She taught Medical Science at The Gereau Center in Franklin County for 13 years before resigning in December 2019.
She left her teaching position in the Franklin County to return to school for her Collegiate Professional Teaching licensure with an endorsement in Library Media.
“I wanted to continue working in public education as an assistant during this time and applied to Roanoke County Public Schools with a preference for working at the high school level,” Goodwin said.
“I am happy to be able to continue being a part of public education, in any form, as it is my passion,” Goodwin said. “I have not had much interaction with William Byrd specifically until now. However, I had many friends who attended and always had wonderful things to say about it. Fun fact: I also learned how to drive in this parking lot!
“Aside from education as a passion, I enjoy traveling, writing and coffee,” she said. “At one time I had dreamed of moving to Italy and training as a professional roaster and barista. You never know… maybe I’ll spend a summer there at some point.”
Haley Harris will be serving as the athletic trainer at WBHS, covering games and treating any sports-related injuries. She is from Roanoke and a William Byrd graduate. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Athletic Training from Liberty University.
“It has been exciting to come back to the place that I went to high school and reconnect with a lot of different teachers that I had when I came here,” Harris said. “I’m also excited to be a part of my sister Grayce Dantzler’s senior year as she is a student at Byrd.” Her brother, Sam Dantzler, was also a Byrd graduate.
Carla Hatfield will be the library media specialist this year, serving all the students and faculty at WBHS. She grew up in West Virginia, but she and her husband have lived in Vinton for 27 years.
She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Education (with a secondary English concentration) from Concord University and a Master of Science degree in Education (library media concentration) from Radford University.
“When I heard about the chance to take on an exciting new position at a school that I already love, I had to apply,” Hatfield said. “Luckily, I was offered the job.”
She had been teaching seventh grade English at Read Mountain Middle School in Botetourt County since 2013. Prior to that, she worked for three years as a substitute teacher and instructional assistant at Herman L. Horn Elementary.
“Although I am not a WBHS graduate, I have lived in the community for 27 years,” Hatfield said. “I’m already a Terrier at heart. My daughter graduated from Byrd in 2018, and my son is a senior this year. I have spent countless hours cheering for Byrd kids from the bleachers and stands, and now I am excited for the opportunity to help them excel academically.”
Hatfield says, “My free time is spent with my family, and that often involves watching my son play school and travel ball. We also love attending Virginia Tech sporting events.”
Maggie Hedrick will be teaching Pre-AP World History I and World History II. She is from Roanoke and graduated from Faith Christian School. She received her BA in Political Science from Roanoke College and her Master’s in Political Science from Virginia Tech.
She has been teaching for five years, all in Roanoke County – four years teaching 7th grade History/8th grade Civics at Hidden Valley Middle School and one year teaching 8th grade Civics at Northside Middle School and William Byrd Middle School and 9th grade World Geography/12th grade Government at Northside High School. She transferred to William Byrd this year.
Stephanie Hull will be teaching Special Education, co-teaching Virginia/US History. She is from Dover, Pa., and graduated from Liberty University majoring in Elementary and Special Education. This is her first year in teaching.
She found out about the opening for the position at William Byrd through the teacher she worked with during her student teaching.
“I am excited to work with and support the students and their families in the community,” Hull said.
Cari Madejas will be teaching Special Education and co-teaching math. She is from Danville and graduated from Bridgewater College with a BS in Health and Exercise Science. She received her MAT in Special Education from Liberty University. She has taught for four years.
She just moved to the area from Roanoke City and is looking forward to a “change of pace and scenery.”
Madejas played soccer at Bridgewater College and is currently enjoying coaching with the ODP West District.
Elizabeth Oliver-Smith will be teaching English 12 College Bound and English 10 Pre-AP.
She is originally from Abingdon but came to Roanoke for college and has “been here ever since. I am coming back to William Byrd after a four-year hiatus. I taught here from 2011 to 2016. I left in 2016 when my daughter was born to stay home with her.”
Oliver-Smith earned her BA in English and MA in Teaching from Hollins University. She has taught for six and a half years with the county. Most of her experience has been at Byrd and “for that, Byrd feels like home to me.”
She has spent the last year and a half working as a financial advisor/insurance broker and remains an active insurance agent, helping people with Medicare. Prior to COVID-19, she “loved doing seminars in the libraries and hopes to begin those again once we are able to, post-COVID.
“I love the seminars because I get to help inform and teach people about Medicare and ease their anxiety over entering a new stage. I am very thankful I got the experience to try on another career temporarily because it reinforced how much I love education and can’t wait to get back in front of students.
“I was very fortunate a position opened up here for this school year, the year I decided to come back after being gone for four years,” she said.
“When I was here previously, I had the pleasure of working with students who founded the high school’s book club,” Oliver-Smith said. “I also had the great pleasure of getting Sketches, the school’s literary and art magazine, up again (albeit online) after it had been dormant for about five years. I loved working with students after school to help them facilitate that final project, engage in their own creativity, and foster a great love of literature.”
Ashley Phillips will be teaching English 9 at WBHS and English 7 at WBMS. She primarily grew up and lived in Southern California and the Midwest. “I moved all around the country. Virginia is actually the ninth state I have lived in.”
She graduated from Frank Sinatra School for the Arts in New York and then attended Washington and Jefferson College to major in English. She received her Master’s in Secondary Education from Slippery Rock University. She taught in Greensboro for four years.
“My fiancé is from the Roanoke Valley and we wanted to move closer to family,” Phillips said. “We have been living in North Carolina for the last four years and I’m excited to set up roots closer to home.”
“I’m so excited to be at WBMS and WBHS!” she said. “The school and community have been so welcoming and supportive. It’s also exciting that I get to work with my fiancé. He is a new Social Studies teacher at WBHS. He is from the Roanoke Valley and my future mother-in-law has been an administrator and guidance counselor in Roanoke County for many years.”
Brian Puckett will be teaching Marketing and Sports Marketing at WBHS. He is from Roanoke and graduated from Cave Spring High School. He earned his undergraduate degree from Bridgewater College in Business Administration. He has four years of teaching experience.
“I have always wanted to teach at the high school level; and when the opportunity came up at William Byrd, I immediately was interested,” Puckett said. “I am excited to be at William Byrd because I want to teach at a high school where the community is involved and supporting of the school and its programs.”
Puckett enjoys teaching various sports. His daughter attends Patrick Henry.
Will Satterfield will be teaching World History I, World History II, and VA/US History for grades 9, 10, and 11. He is from Salem and a graduate of Salem High School. He received his BS in History from Roanoke College. He has three years of experience in education.
He says he was “looking to move back to the Roanoke Valley to be closer to family when the position opened up at Byrd.”
Satterfield says he is happy to be working at Byrd because of the “sense of community in the school and throughout Vinton. I know from growing up in Salem how tight knit the community in Vinton is and I’m excited to be a part of that.”
He also looks forward to helping with the football and Lacrosse programs at William Byrd.
Keagan Vickers is an instructional assistant at WBHS this year. She is from Fayetteville, W.Va., and graduated from Radford University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance.
William Byrd High School has a couple of administrative changes for the 2020-2021 school year as well. Travis Anderson has been named assistant principal, and Phillip Martin has been named dean of students.