WBMS welcomes new faculty and staff


By Debbie Adams

William Byrd Middle School has added several new faculty and staff members for the 2020-2021 school year.

William Byrd Middle School welcomes several new faculty and staff members for the 20-21 school year. They include (left to right) Karai Simpson, Traci Addison, Ashley Phillips, Adriana Strum, and Kimberly Settles.


WBMS opens with several new faculty and staff members including front row left to right Lindsey Brown and Tiffany Adams and back row Terra Byrd and Samantha Ratliff.

Traci Addison will be teaching 7th grade English at WBMS. She is originally from Botetourt County and graduated from Lord Botetourt High School. She earned her degree in English from Radford University with a concentration in Education and Adolescent Literature.

“I have been both a daily and long-term substitute in Roanoke County for the last two years, most specifically in English classrooms,” she said. “I studied Education in college with the intent to immediately teach middle school after graduating, but a position became available as a writer for a local newspaper and I wanted to give it a try. I have always been a writer at heart and writing for a newspaper afforded me a wide array of opportunities I would not have had otherwise.

“I have a strong background in theatre, dance, and voice and I believe exposure to the arts helps to make well rounded students in every subject,” said Addison.  “I want to develop students’ appreciation for and confidence in their reading and writing skills. Communication in our society is more important than ever, and I want to help sharpen and hone those skills in this generation.

“I have always heard wonderful things about the community of staff and students at WBMS,” Addison said. “After spending two years as a very active long-term and daily substitute in Roanoke County, I felt the time was right to pursue a full-time position in a classroom. I was thrilled to hear there was an opening here and feel honored to have this opportunity.

“I am thrilled to be starting at WBMS! Everyone has been so very welcoming and helpful.  I have always felt a connection with students, and I look forward to building new relationships. As the parent of a middle schooler as well, I trust and believe that teachers are imperative to developing the social, emotional, and academic needs of middle schoolers and helping them feel confident in uncertain times. I believe that ‘it takes a village!’

“I feel very passionately about several things: the performing arts, writing, and education,” she emphasizes. “I feel extremely blessed to have been given the opportunity to work in and advocate for all three of these areas in my career paths thus far. I look forward to serving the students and families of Vinton and I am excited about what’s to come.”

Tiffany Adams will be working one-on-one with a new sixth grade student as an instructional assistant. She is from Vinton and a graduate of the Staunton River High School Class of 1999. Her family recently moved to Roanoke County from Bedford County and her children attend Roanoke County schools.

“I was looking for a fulltime position working in the school system,” said Adams. “I had worked 13 years part-time at a private school. This allowed for me to be at home with my children. Now that my children are older, I was ready to go back to full time and to go back to public school.”

Adams has over 20 years of experience in the field of education.

“I love the staff here and the kids are great,” she said. “I am so excited to be doing what I love in a great working environment.”

As for her interests outside of school, “I love spending time with my family, driving my Jeep and working in my yard.”

Lindsey Brown is an instructional assistant at WBMS. She was born and raised in Roanoke and graduated from William Byrd High School in 2011. She went on to earn her Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Medicine from Radford University and is working on her Physical Therapy degree now.

Brown says that WBHS Principal Tammy Newcomb, a neighbor and family friend, helped her find the position at WBMS – “a job she knew I would love and where I could be passionate and help others.”

“I love working at WBMS because I am so used to working with older adults in the medical field, but now am taking a different approach helping young kids,” Brown said. “I love helping people, and the fact that I get to help these young adults learn is a passion of mine.”

As for her special interests, Brown says, “I absolutely am obsessed with my dog, Layla (a rescue). I love hiking and laying in my ENO hammock as well.”

Terra Byrd is an instructional assistant in sixth grade at William Byrd Middle School. She moved over to WBMS with the student she worked one-on-one with at Bonsack Elementary. This is her sixth year as an IA. She worked at Herman L. Horn Elementary several years ago for one year.

She is from Roanoke and a graduate of Lord Botetourt High School. She graduated from the University of Phoenix with a major in Human Service Management. She has twins who went through WBMS and are now at the high school.

Byrd says she is excited “being there for my students as they start their next chapter, with new opportunities and meeting new people.”

“My husband and I, plus our three children, have been working on a nonprofit fund to help raise money for kids with cancer in honor of our son,” Byrd said. “The Roanoke College men’s soccer team plays a big part in our lives and our fund, as well as Camp Bethel.” (Find out more at

Shana Patterson is a Special Education instructional assistant who works one-on-one with students “from all sorts of walks of life.” She is from Fincastle and graduated from James River High School. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Liberty University. She is currently pursuing her Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis at Mary Baldwin University. She has worked with children for many years.

She transferred to WBMS this year “to come join the Terriers!”

“I am happy to work at WBMS because of how everyone is so closely knit together like every school in Roanoke County,” Patterson said.

In her spare time, “I love to be outdoors from kayaking to horseback riding. I am a fan of NHL as well as EPL and MLS. I am a big advocate for mental health awareness and autism awareness.”

Ashley Phillips will be teaching English 7 at WBMS and English 9 at WBHS. She 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.”

Samantha Ratliff will be teaching pre-algebra in grade 7. She is from Suffolk and a graduate of James Madison University. She moved to Roanoke in January for her husband’s job. She has five years of teaching experience, a Master’s degree, and is certified to teach elementary and middle school math and science.

Kimberly Settles will be teaching Family and Consumer Sciences in grades 6 and 7, and 8 Teen Living. She is a familiar face in Vinton schools, having taught at Herman L. Horn for many years. She lives in Vinton. Her husband and children are William Byrd graduates.

“I am very excited about the new year!” said Settles. “I am excited to be part of the Terrier family and to have the opportunity to teach students that I have previously taught.”

Karai Simpson is teaching Special Education 7th grade math. She is from Fredericksburg and a graduate of Courtland High School. She majored in Interdisciplinary Studies at Radford University and has a Master’s in Special Education. She has been teaching for eight years and transferred this year from Hidden Valley Middle School.

Adriana Strum is teaching 6th grade English at WBMS. She is from Vinton, attended W.E. Cundiff Elementary, and WBMS, and graduated from William Byrd High School with the Class of 2015.  She graduated from Longwood University in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education (grades Pre-K through 6th grade). She earned her Master of Education degree in Reading, Literacy, and Learning and a reading specialist endorsement in 2020 from Longwood as well. This is her first year in teaching.

I attended William Byrd Middle School when I was in school,” Strum said.  “When I was applying for teaching jobs this year, I saw they had a sixth grade English opening. I was very excited to think that I could be teaching students in my community in the subject that I was most passionate about.

“I am thrilled to be working at William Byrd Middle, because it gives me an opportunity to help change the lives of children in my community,” said Strum.  “I have worked in several elementary schools that feed into William Byrd Middle, and I have witnessed how much of an impact you can have on a child’s life in this area by being a positive role model and believing in the students’ abilities.

“The staff at William Byrd Middle has also been extremely welcoming and kind to me,” she added.  “They seem like wonderful people to work with.  It will also be cool to work with some of the teachers I had when I was in middle school there!

“I played on the softball team at the middle and high school since I was in seventh grade,” Strum added.  “I have connections to many of the elementary, middle, and high school teachers in the area.  Last school year, I worked part-time at Herman L. Horn Elementary School doing reading remediation and was also a substitute in Roanoke County while I completed my Master’s degree.  I also did my student teaching at Bonsack Elementary in the spring of 2019.

“My passion, when it comes to teaching, is literacy and helping struggling readers,” Strum said. “Literacy is a very critical subject area in schools, because you need to be able to read, write, and communicate effectively to be successful in all other subject areas.  I think this sixth grade English position is perfect for me because I get to teach what I am passionate about.  After teaching for many years, I would love to become a reading specialist in Roanoke County and help struggling readers across various grade levels.”


more recommended stories