By Debbie Adams
William Byrd Middle School has welcomed several new faculty and staff members for the 2021-2022 school year and moved some returning employees to new positions.
Tiffany Adams is not new to William Byrd, but she has been promoted to attendance administrative assistant this year. She is from Vinton and graduated from Staunton River High School with the Class of 1999. She was hired as an instructional assistant last year for WBMS and trained in the Attendance Office.
Adams taught preschool for 22 years at Parkway Preschool before coming to WBMS. This will be her 24th year working in education.
“I love this school, its staff, and being close to home and my two kids who are both at WBHS,” Adams said. “I love spending time with my family, going on road trips, being outside–and if I have to be indoors, I enjoy working puzzles.”
Nick Deel was promoted from instructional assistant to teacher during the last school year. This year he is teaching seventh grade US History II—1865 to the present. He is from Roanoke and a graduate of William Byrd. He studied Criminal Law at Virginia Western Community College and then History/Middle School Education at Mary Baldwin University. This is his fourth year in education.
Deel says the staff and students at WBMS are “enjoyable to work with and I love the content I teach.”
A fun fact about Deel is that “I can rip a deck of cards in half.”
Gloria Harris has switched roles at WBMS and this year is the administrative assistant for the Counseling Department. She worked previously in attendance for six years. Before joining the school system, she retired from Carilion Healthcare System as a senior programmer/analyst with the Patient Access, Patient Accounting and Emergency Department computer systems.
She was “born and bred in Roanoke.”
“I came to William Byrd Middle during the terminal illness of my husband, Troy,” Harris said. “I have two children, Kelsey and Noah, who both attended William Byrd Middle and High Schools.
Harris currently serves as vice president of the Terrier Lacrosse Club.
“I love working with WBMS and the Vinton community,” Harris said. “The staff truly are like family. There are not many parents and grandparents that I do not know due to my time in attendance. I look forward to serving in my new role and the challenge that it brings.”
Diane Heim is a new instructional assistant at WBMS for the 2021-2022 school year.
Megan Herndon will be teaching Advanced Civics at WBMS. She will also be teaching World History II (11th grade) at William Byrd High School, and teaching at Cave Spring Middle School. She is from Salem and a graduate of Salem High School. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, and her graduate degree from Arizona State University. This is her sixth year of teaching.
“I’m looking forward to working with a spirited and hardworking staff in a wonderful school district,” Herndon says. “I am passionate about history from all angles. I am also passionate that a well-rounded education, including social/emotional education, provides students with the tools to be active in their communities and to bring much needed change.”
Amanda Holterman will be working as a new Special Education teacher with sixth and seventh grade math students. She is from Roanoke and graduated from William Fleming High School. She is a graduate of Warner University.
“I have worked at William Byrd Middle School for five years with the TDT (Therapeutic Day Treatment) program and decided to switch to Special Education,” Holterman said.
Ryan Hutchison will be teaching Technology Education. He is from Salem and a graduate of Glenvar High School. He earned his BA from Roanoke College, his MBA from Syracuse University, and his Certification in Education from Virginia Tech.
“The greatest thing any individual can be a part of is a team or community,” Hutchison said. “William Byrd Middle School places an emphasis on many attributes, but most importantly, being in a community—that’s why I’m happy to be here.”
Brian Jones is an instructional assistant working with students in sixth grade history. He is from Vinton and a 1996 graduate of William Byrd High School. He attended Averett University.
“I have lived in this area my entire life, and I am a Byrd guy through and through,’ Jones said. “It’s in my blood. I am the baseball coach here at the middle school and love being around the boys–hopefully teaching them life lessons, and some baseball along the way is a bonus!”
As for how he came to be at WBMS this year, “I started off as a baseball coach and then lost my job of 17 years during Covid last year and started off subbing. The staff here is second to none. I have built some awesome friendships in the short time I’ve been here!”
Haley Leftwich is teaching eighth grade advanced algebra and advanced geometry. She is from Salem and a graduate of Glenvar High School. She graduated from James Madison University in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics and in May 2021 with her Master of Arts in Teaching.
Leftwich originally started teaching in Roanoke County in January 2020 at Hidden Valley Middle School. Not even two days in, she was contacted about an opening at WBMS, interviewed, and was hired the following week.
She has had experience in both middle and high schools while at JMU through practicums.
“Since I decided that I wanted to become a teacher in middle school, I knew I wanted to teach in Roanoke County,” Leftwich says. “When I found out that I was hired at Byrd, I was so excited. I am very happy to be here because all of the eighth grade teachers pulled me under their wing and helped me with everything they possibly could, being a first-year teacher thrown into the middle of the school year. I cannot wait to get this year started!”
Leftwich has family in Vinton and her aunt is the principal at Bonsack Elementary.
This will be her second year as assistant coach for the middle school volleyball team.
Christian Moore will be an instructional assistant in the FAACTS program. He is from Vinton and a 2012 graduate of William Byrd High School.
Moore just graduated from Virginia Western Community College with an Associate Degree in Social Sciences: Education Specialization. He plans to attend either Radford, Liberty or Roanoke College to pursue a Bachelor’s in Physical Education.
“I have been at WBMS since 2013 as an assistant soccer coach for the boys soccer team,” Moore said. “This year I have been given the opportunity to take over the team as the head coach and I feel very excited about the chance to use everything I have learned from sitting behind some great head coaches like Matt Doss and Tyler Goodman.
“This will be my third year with Roanoke County Public Schools,” said Moore. “My first two years were at Penn Forest Elementary School where I was able to work under Robyn McDaniel. She taught me a lot about working with children and helping guide them.
“I attended WBMS, so to me William Byrd has always had a special place in my heart,” he said. “It helps that I have a great relationship with some of the staff that are already here and, of course, I will miss my kids and the staff at Penn Forest. I feel that working at William Byrd will give me an opportunity to expand my abilities to work with children at an age where they experience so much change in their lives.
“While at Virginia Western in 2012, I played on the inaugural men’s soccer team where we went on to win the state championship,” said Moore. “I have coached soccer since I got out of school, including coaching one year at Staunton River as both the boy’s middle school coach and the JV assistant coach. Following that year, I have stayed at William Byrd. I have also coached in the Vinton Rec league–I have coached boys U-16 to U19 and one year of U-10. I have also gotten the opportunity to coach a group of girls from U-12 up to U-14 over the last three years. This will be the first year since graduation that I am not coaching for the Vinton Rec league. Each group has had their quirks and things that make them special, but I feel I was able to take something away from each group that helped me to grow as a person and a coach.”
Shana Patterson is a Special Education teacher working primarily with seventh graders. She is from Daleville and a graduate of James River High School. She graduated from Liberty University with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. Last year, she worked at WBMS as an instructional assistant, received her provisional license, and is now a teacher.
“I am happy to be working alongside a great group of individuals (at WBMS) who come from all different walks of life,” Patterson said. “I love to do anything outdoors,” Patterson said. “If it involves making a difference, I’m there!”
Mickaella Porterfield is teaching English 8 and English 6 Pre-AP at WBMS this year.
“I was an Army brat, so I moved around growing up and have lived in five different states; however, I’ve called Roanoke home for the past 14 years,” Porterfield said.
She graduated from Northside High School, then earned her Bachelor’s in English and her Master’s in English with a Teaching License from Radford University.
“This will be my first year teaching; however, I was a teaching assistant and later a teaching fellow at Radford University for two years,” Porterfield said. “Prior to attending RU for my master’s, I worked with RCPS as a substitute teacher for one year.
“I’m happy to be joining the RCPS team and I’m excited that I get to be a part of the Terrier family as well,” she said. “William Byrd Middle School has a wonderful atmosphere with fantastic students and staff, so I am looking forward to being a Terrier!”
She and her husband’s families live in Roanoke, and they look forward to starting their own family here.
As for her special interests outside of school, “I am a competent baker and novice woodworker. I love baking cakes, cookies, breads, and pastries and love even more to share them with others. In addition, I’ve been doing woodworking for four years. I’ve managed to perfect smaller objects such as cutting boards and trivets, but last year I made a bed and am looking forward to learning to make larger pieces of furniture and even a clock!”
Amneh Qawasmeh will be working as an instructional assistant with seventh grade Special Education students one-on-one, helping with different subjects. She has lived in Vinton for seven years and has “two beautiful daughters. Mariam is 6 and Sarah is 2.”
She is from Jordan and graduated from the Kufr Yuba Secondary School for Girls there. She earned her Master of Arts in Teaching degree from Hollins University, majoring in Education: Secondary English. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in English Language and Literature from Yarmouk University and has three years of teaching experience working with students as an English teacher.
“At the beginning, I worked as a lunch lady at WBMS’s cafeteria for two years, and I was a student at Hollins University pursuing my Master’s Degree in Education.” Qawasmeh said. “During my graduate studies at Hollins University, I have had the privilege of observing and working with teachers and students at WBMS. I have seen teachers make real differences in students’ lives, and I know that I have the skills and attitude necessary to help students build character through mastery of the English curriculum. That’s why I wanted to interview at WBMS because this position seems like a great opportunity to advance my skills and continue building my career as a teacher and a role model for my students and challenging myself.
“My love of learning makes me passionate about teaching,” she said. “I grew up with educators (my mom and my four siblings) whose love of children draws them to teaching. We enter the teaching profession because we are eager to make a difference in students’ lives, even long after school is over.”
Bonnie Reedy is teaching sixth grade US History I at WBMS. She is from Metro Atlanta, but moved to Roanoke last year from Austin, Texas. She graduated from Brookwood High School in Snellville, Ga., and then from Georgia State University with a B.S. in Political Science and her Master’s of Education in Social Studies Education. She has taught for 13 years. She, her husband, and two children moved to Roanoke when he took a job with the Kirk YMCA.
“I’ve heard such wonderful things about WBMS,” Reedy said. “Most people tell me about the amazing community/family feel and sense of pride.”
As for her other interests, “I rescue dogs; currently we have a retired racing greyhound and an Airedale terrier. I play and coach tennis and serve on the board for the Roanoke Valley Tennis Association. I am a cellist and play with my church worship band.”
Holley Scheffel is teaching seventh grade English in a team-teaching setting. She is from the Haymarket area of Northern Virginia. She graduated from Gar-Field Senior High School in Woodbridge and then earned her B.S. in Criminal Justice from Old Dominion University. She went on to receive her M.A. from Virginia Tech in Adult Learning and Human Resource Development, her M. Ed. From George Mason University in Education and is working to complete her endorsement in Supervision and Leadership from Longwood University this month.
“This is my 21st year in the classroom,” Scheffel said. “Prior to teaching, I was the assistant director for Training and Outreach with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in Alexandria, Va.”
Scheffel says she finds “the school ‘vibe’ at WBMS very family-focused. Everyone seems so welcoming and friendly.”
Her son graduated from Liberty University in May 2021, “so we have spent a great deal of time in the general area supporting LU athletics and hosting LU students at our home.”
The family lived in a fifth wheel at Mitchell’s Point Marina in Huddleston this summer (with their two Labrador retrievers) while their house was being rented.
Julia Stafford is teaching eighth grade physical science at WBMS. She was born in Pittsburgh and graduated from East Alleghany High School. She majored in chemistry and minored in physics at Hollins University, graduating in 2011. She has been working in education in some capacity for 10 years.
“I taught for several years in Roanoke City Public Schools before joining the Northside Middle School family,” Stafford said. “I enjoyed my time there, but last school year I had to travel to a few different middle schools, one being William Byrd. I taught seventh grade life science for one block first semester, and by March, I was informed that I was being transferred permanently to WBMS for this upcoming school year.
“While I have not been in WBMS for long, and the time I spent here last school year was brief, I absolutely loved the students in my classroom!” Stafford said. “They were a fun group, some of which I have the pleasure of teaching again this year in physical science.”
She met her husband about seven years ago and they have been married for four. He attended WBMS and graduated from William Byrd High School in 2007, so “needless to say, he is a Terrier through and through and is very excited for me to be joining the William Byrd family.”
Sarah Weber is an instructional assistant working with students in Civics & Economics and US History. She is from Roanoke.
“I am very passionate about the subjects and content I get to assist with at WBMS and am excited to share this passion with the students, and about the opportunity to learn and grow from knowledgeable lead teachers,” Weber said. “I am also very encouraged by the strong sense of community.”
Sammi Webster is teaching Special Education, working with seventh grade math and eighth grade English. She is from Roanoke and a William Byrd graduate. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Recreation and Tourism Management from Concord University in West Virginia and her Master’s in Sports Management from East Tennessee State University.
She began subbing in Roanoke County after graduating from ETSU and worked frequently at WBMS. When a position opened as an instructional assistant, she took the job “because I fell in love with the school, administration, and the students here.”
Webster is currently coaching volleyball and basketball at WBHS. She played college basketball at Concord University.
“I’ve been working here for the last three years, and the administration and staff are incredible,” Webster said. “Everyone is so supportive and will roll up their sleeves and help wherever is needed.”
Traci Wren is teaching seventh grade English at WBMS. She grew up in Salem and graduated from Salem High School. She majored in Communications and minored in Journalism at Radford University. She completed her coursework for teacher licensure through the University of Virginia.
“I began teaching as a substitute teacher for Roanoke County in 2005, when my son entered kindergarten,” Wren said. “This led to my desire to become a full-time teacher. I have been teaching second, and most recently third grade, for 10 years at Herman L. Horn.” Her love for English and interest in teaching middle school brought her to WBMS.
“I’m excited to be at William Byrd Middle School,” Wren said. “Everyone is so friendly and welcoming. I’m looking forward to teaching English and fostering a love of reading with students in the classroom! I think it will be very exciting to see the faces of students I have previously taught.”
Wren has lived in Vinton for 20 years. She has two children who went to Vinton schools and are WBHS graduates.
Outside of school, “I love spending time with my family and friends. My first class of second graders will graduate this year!”