Dr. Betty Lou Weaver ’67, M.S. ’73, published her fourth book, Poured Out Wine, which she called a “day-by-day inspirational devotion,” in March. She is working on her fifth book, which she called an “adventure” story about her Pomeranian, Hosanna, who died in January at age 15. Weaver is a minister and the retired school administrator of New Life Christian Academy in Farmville, where she lives.
Laura Bailey Nelson ’77 retired May 31 after a 28-year teaching career. She had been a junior kindergarten teacher at St. Stephen’s Pre-School in Richmond for the last 10 years. She taught previously in Chesterfield and Amelia counties, as well as at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, and she wrote curriculum and trained teachers for the Richmond-based Area Health Education Center, which has since closed. Nelson, who lives in Midlothian, worked in therapeutic recreation for seven years before earning a master’s in education at Virginia Tech and switching to teaching. Anna Nelson Jones ’12 is her daughter.
Susan Delong Smith ’79, who lives in Takotna, Alaska, and is the principal- teacher for grades K-4, recently was an Iditarider for the 2019 Iditarod Sled Dog Race, held in Anchorage on March 2. Iditariders are monetary sponsors for this premier long-distance sled dog race held every March in Alaska. In addition to getting an 11-mile ride in the sled, Iditariders attend the “Meet the Mushers” event to meet the musher with whom they will ride. Smith’s musher, Mats Peterssen of Sweden, is a seven- time finisher of this race. Smith also was a checker at the race checkpoint of Takotna, welcoming in all teams, many of whom spend their mandatory 24- hour layover in Takotna. She carried a Longwood flag through her 11-mile ride as a flag raiser for the Office of Alumni and Career Services.
Lisa Howell Sharpe ’81 celebrated her 20th anniversary with the John Randolph Foundation (JRF) in Hopewell in July 2018. She initially directed the grant, scholarship and development programs and has been executive director since 2005. During her tenure, JRF’S net assets have increased from $25 million to $42 million, fundraising has grown from 25 donors to more than 1,000 and from one charitable fund to 77 funds, and the foundation has awarded $18 million in grants and $1.6 million in scholarships. Sharpe was instrumental in establishing the Hopewell-Prince George Community Health Center, which provides access to health, dental and behavioral services to thousands of people annually. She worked for the Mary Washington Hospital Foundation in Fredericksburg from 1990-98, serving as executive director for the last two years.
Theresa “Terry” Jervis Royall ’86, who had been commonwealth’s attorney for Nottoway County since 2012, was appointed by the Virginia General Assembly as a juvenile and domestic relations (JDR) judge for the 11th Judicial Circuit in February. She began her duties July 1 and is one of three JDR judges in the 11th Circuit, which encompasses Amelia, Dinwiddie, Nottoway and Powhatan counties and Petersburg. She was previously an assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Chesapeake and Chesterfield County, and was in private practice, also in Chesterfield. Before graduating from T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond, she taught high-school physics, chemistry and biology in Chesterfield and Virginia Beach for 12 years.
Dr. Tamara Brown ’89 was appointed executive dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at the University of North Texas in March. Brown, who began her position July 1, oversees UNT’s largest college, which has more than 9,000 students and is made up of more than 22 academic departments and programs. Brown had previously held several positions at Prairie View A&M University for seven years, including interim dean of the graduate school, dean of the College of Juvenile Justice and Psychology, and executive director of the Texas Juvenile Crime Prevention Center. Before that, she taught in the University of Kentucky’s psychology department for 13 years. She has a Ph.D. and a master’s from the University of Illinois and another master’s from Asbury Theological Seminary.
Division Teacher of the Year known for the special care she gives her first-graders in Colonial Heights
Tracey Sink Ridpath ’95 is the Colonial Heights Teacher of the Year for 2019.
The honor for Ridpath, a first-grade teacher at Tussing Elementary School for her entire 24-year career, was announced in April, the month after she was chosen her school’s Teacher of the Year. Ridpath is known for her attention to the emotional needs of special-needs students.
“Many of her students are dealing with trauma from their home environment, and she also has students who need more academic assistance, so meeting the needs of everyone in her class may seem overwhelming. However, Mrs. Ridpath puts a smile on her face and tackles every situation without complaint,” said her assistant principal, Tanya Elliott.
Ridpath and her husband, Rick Ridpath ’95, met at Longwood. He teaches sixth-grade history at Colonial Heights Middle School. Both of the couple’s daughters attend Longwood: Casey ’20, who plans to teach, is a rising senior; Camryn ’22 a rising sophomore. Other Lancer relatives include Tracey’s mother, Mamie Harrell Sink ’66, and her mother’s sisters, Georgie Harrell Copeland ’62 and the late Emma Harrell Gardner ’59, both of whom were teachers.
Until knee pain forced her to give it up about 15 years ago, Tracey was a runner who completed the 2001 Richmond Marathon, two half-marathons and several 10K races. Now she is known among her school’s students for her devotion to yoga (“too much yoga,” she said with a laugh) and for walking the mile to school and home again every day. The day before Thanksgiving last year, she “commuted” in a turkey costume she had made.
“It was our school’s Dress Like a Turkey Day, and other teachers wore something like a turkey hat or turkey shirt, but I was a turkey ready to be cooked. I thought the kids would enjoy it, and they did.”
Filmmaker directs official Mraz video
Martin Montgomery ’97, a Richmond-based documentary filmmaker, directed the official video for Jason Mraz’s latest music video. Montgomery was so taken with the song “Love Is Still the Answer” that he pitched Mraz, a longtime friend and former Longwood student, a novel idea for the video.
The song “made me ask myself the question that no matter what happens in my life is love still the answer?” said Montgomery.
The idea for the video was to use smartphone footage submitted by Mraz’s fans, whom he’d challenged to send him video “representing love, kindness and joy.” After receiving more than 1,000 submissions from 51 countries in late January, Montgomery produced the six-minute video in about two weeks. It was released on Valentine’s Day and can be viewed on YouTube.
Montgomery, chair of Longwood’s Performing Arts Council, and Mraz have also collaborated on a documentary directed by Montgomery that features Mraz and was filmed in Richmond in March 2018. The 90-minute feature film, Have It All — The Movie, was aired on one night, Aug. 7, 2018, at more than 800 theaters across the country. The film, which Montgomery called a “behind-the-scenes look at Jason’s involvement in supporting the arts,” can be viewed on Amazon.
Greg Tsigaridas ’94 appeared in the February production of A Phoenix Too Frequent by the Waterworks Players, a community theater group in Farmville. Tsigaridas is a senior computer systems engineer in Longwood’s Information Technology Services.
Principal hires 10 fellow Lancers at new school
Lindsay Kuhlmann Mottley ’01, M.S. ’02 (back row, fifth from left), is surrounded at work by numerous fellow Lancers—and she hired every one of them.
Mottley is the principal of Old Hundred Elementary School in Chesterfield County, which is set to open its doors for the first time on Sept. 3. Fellow alums joining her at the new school are (back row, from left) librarian Lara Tingle Ivey, M.S. ’15; classroom teachers Kaitlynn Gunn ’14 and Dave Lawson ’03; associate principal Guillermo Gonzalez ’05; classroom teacher Stephanie Shurtz Porter, M.S. ’08; special education teachers Stephanie Patterson Smith ’97, M.S. ’98, and Priscilla Sherwood Ricketts ’10; (front row, from left) classroom teacher Ashley Waller ’12; and music teacher Jennifer Kirkbride ’11. Classroom teacher Kristina Dickinson ’04 was hired after this photo was taken.
Mottley brought Smith and Ivey with her from Bettie Weaver Elementary School, also in Chesterfield, where she had been principal since 2014. She had hired them at Weaver, as well as other alums.
“I’ve never been disappointed with a Longwood alum,” said Mottley, who had to hire a staff of more than 50 for Old Hundred, projected to open with 730 students. “Some of my strongest teachers are Longwood alums.”
Gonzalez was previously assistant principal at Harrowgate Elementary School in Chesterfield.
Creativity pays off for ‘that guy on the billboard’
Scott Blackmon ’06 used a novel marketing approach to set himself apart from his competitors in the real estate industry—and the dating scene.
The real estate agent with Broadsight Realty in Virginia Beach recently put up a digital billboard on Interstate 64 east (where it merges with Interstate 564) that must have made some drivers tap their brakes.
For a week last October, the message “Wanna get married?” appeared beside Blackmon’s photo. After that, and through early January, the line, “If not, at least let me sell your home” and his phone number appeared under the same message and photo.
“I wanted to catapult my love life as well as help my career,” said Blackmon, who is 47 and single. “I’m tired of meeting women online and in bars. I figured, Why not kill two birds with one stone?”
The billboard garnered news media coverage as far away as Austin, Texas, and St. Louis. He even was considered to be featured on the HGTV show Beach Hunters.
It’s also attracted business.
“Realtors have asked me if it worked. I tell them it paid for itself after the first month. I probably got 50 grand worth of advertising for $7,000. Competitors have called me and said, people will remember it five years from now.
“When I first mentioned the idea to friends, some said, ‘Are you nuts?’ But I’m a risk-taker. Fortunately, I didn’t have anyone to embarrass but myself.”
He got one date directly from the ad, as well as a few others “inadvertently”—from people inquiring on behalf of a “niece or cousin.”
“Now some people see me and say, ‘Oh, are you that guy on the billboard?’”
(Photo courtesy of Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune)
Alum helps keep athletes at Notre Dame going strong
Michael Szemborski ’07 is the director of strength and conditioning at the University of Notre Dame, overseeing all athletic teams except football.
Szemborski, who oversees the strength and conditioning department and its seven full-time strength coaches, works with 22 men’s and women’s sports at Notre Dame. He has direct oversight of the women’s basketball team, traveling with the 2018 national champions to their away games, as well as the women’s soccer team.
“I love my job, which is the perfect profession for me,” said Szemborski, who holds five national certifications. “It keeps me active and allows me to impact student-athletes daily.”
Before starting at Notre Dame in June 2017, he held the same position for six years at the University of Maryland, where he worked with 17 sports—including seven national-championship teams. He began there as associate head football strength coach in 2007.
Trudy Berry ’01 is running as the Democratic candidate for the District 61 seat in the Virginia House of Delegates in this November’s election. Berry, an Air Force veteran, attended Longwood as a nontraditional student after moving to Lunenburg County in 1998. A magna cum laude graduate, she received two Citizen Leader awards and was inducted into three honor societies. She was secretary from 2014-18 of the Lunenburg County Chamber of Commerce and has been secretary of the Friends of Victoria Public Library since 2015. The 61st House District encompasses all of Amelia, Cumberland, Mecklenburg and Nottoway counties and most of Lunenburg County.
Eboni Lee ’01, a member of the Farmville Jaycees since 2008, was honored with a lifetime membership in the Virginia Jaycees in February. This honor is given in recognition of and appreciation for her continued service to her community and for leading with imagination, ability and inspiration. She is the 2019 president of the Farmville Jaycees. Lee is marketing officer for Benchmark Community Bank in Kenbridge and will join the Alumni Board this fall.
Randall Sell ’01 is a health and physical education teacher at Andrew Lewis Middle School in Salem and a volunteer assistant to the wrestling coach at Lord Botetourt High School in Botetourt County. His sons, Hunter and Colin, are members of the Lord Botetourt wrestling team and competed in the Virginia High School League Class 3 state tournament in February. Sell, a former wrestling coach at Staunton River and Salem high schools, placed in three state tournaments for William Byrd High School in the late 1990s and later wrestled at Messiah College in Pennsylvania and Longwood.
Vince Walden ’01 was named an assistant coach of the men’s basketball team at Elon University in April. Walden was previously an assistant coach at Arkansas State and Liberty, and he served two terms as the national team head coach at the IMG Academy in Florida. He played basketball at Longwood all four years and was a two-year team captain.
Charles Evelyn ’02 is running as the Republican candidate for New Kent County treasurer in this year’s November election. He is one of two elected directors currently representing New Kent County on the Colonial Soil and Water Conservation District, for which he serves as treasurer and finance committee chairman. A resident of the Talleysville area, he is vice president of C.H. Evelyn Piling Co. Inc., a family business started by his grandfather in 1967.
Corrine Richardson Louden ’02, deputy inspector general for investigations and administration for the Virginia Office of the State Inspector General, received the Association of Government Accountants 2019 Excellence in Government Leadership Award in February. The AGA National Leadership Awards recognize the achievements of government professionals who have “consistently demonstrated the highest personal and professional standards throughout their careers,” said AGA CEO Ann Ebberts, who cited Louden’s efforts to “improve government performance, accountability and trust.” Louden, who will start her MBA at Longwood this fall, is secretary of the AGA’s Richmond chapter and treasurer of Longwood’s College of Business and Economics Alumni Advisory Board.
Johnnie McKeller ’03 was named director of education for Gwaltney School in Jarratt, operated by Jackson-Field Behavioral Health Services, in January. He had been acting director since July 2018 and has taught since 2009 at the school, which is for students who have been unable to reach their age-appropriate grade level due to circumstances in their life. An educator since 2005 who has taught in school divisions in North Carolina and Virginia, McKeller, who lives in Franklin, also has coached baseball, football, wrestling, track and field, and basketball. He has a master’s degree from Cambridge College.
Justin Cullivan ’04 was promoted in February to construction manager with HHHunt Homes, a diversified real estate developer in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Dr. Gretchen Koenig, M.A. ’04, is currently teaching college-level English to Air Force personnel at an American air base in the Middle East. In her position, which began in August 2018 and runs through July, she is teaching three courses through the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) Europe division, which offers graduate and undergraduate courses at military installations in the Middle East to military service members and their families. This is her third year in the UMUC program; she also has taught in Germany, the United Kingdom and Kuwait. She was as a lecturer in Longwood’s English and modern languages department and taught at the Air Force Academy.
Amy Jordan Williams ’04 became principal of Cool Spring Elementary School in Hanover County on July 1. She had been director of human resources for the Spotsylvania County schools. Before that, she was an elementary school principal in Spotsylvania and Chesterfield counties, as well as an assistant principal at Cold Harbor Elementary School in Hanover. She began her career as a teacher at Pole Green and Laurel Meadow elementary schools in Hanover; at the latter, she was a member of the charter staff and their first teacher of the year.
Aubrie Therrien ’05 is executive artistic director of the EPIC Players in New York City, which is dedicated to creating neuro-diverse opportunities and communities through the arts. An actress regionally and in New York City, she recently was recognized as the New Yorker of the Week for her work and co-published an article in Autism Spectrum News. She and the EPIC Players were given the honor of ringing the New York Stock Exchange opening bell on April 3 to celebrate Autism Awareness Week. She has spoken at the United Nations on Empowering Women and Girls with Autism and the Producer’s Guild of America conference, co-chairs the Coalition for Disabilities in the Arts in New York and is executive director of the Horizons program at Brooklyn Friends School. Therrien has a master’s degree from New York University.
Cameron Agricola ’08 was promoted in March to vice president and senior commercial portfolio manager with TowneBank. He had been assistant vice president and commercial portfolio manager. He works in offices in Portsmouth and Churchland, and he lives in Chesapeake.
Stefanie Mancuso Norris ’08 and her husband, Jason Norris, had a son, Peter James Norris, born Sept. 21, 2018, in Norfolk. Stefanie is director of campus life arts and programs at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
Trey Grow ’09 was hired as a claims examiner with Kinsale Insurance Co., based in Richmond, in April. He had been a claims adjuster with Elephant Insurance since 2014.
Dr. Jeannie Pfautz, M.S. ’09, graduated with an Ed.D. from the University of Virginia in May. Pfautz, a graduate of Longwood’s Reading, Literacy and Learning program, will begin a position as an ESL teacher at Charlottesville High School in August. She previously was a reading specialist with the Charlottesville and Fairfax County schools, a reading specialist consultant with the National Housing Trust and an English teacher at Powhatan High School. As a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines from 2009-11, Pfautz and a co-teacher started a reading-intervention program at the high school where they worked and later built a reading center that is still operating today.
(Photo courtesy of Tom Zuppa/The Lowell Sun)
Arts organization helps tell stories of diverse Massachusetts community
Christa Brown ’12 (center) wants to help other people tell their stories. Brown is the founder and executive director of the Free Soil Arts Collective, an interdisciplinary arts organization that supports works strengthening the voices of underrepresented communities in the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts.
“Some people have a unique story to tell but don’t know how to tell it. We want to help them,” said Brown, an actress and storyteller who lives in Lowell. “By both putting on our own art and supporting other artists, we want to reflect the richness of our community.
“Lowell has always been known for its ‘happening’ arts scene, but nothing was being put on by persons of color,” she said. Though the organization was created in June 2018, its founding wasn’t announced until January of this year, which is also when it received major support from the Greater Lowell Community Foundation.
With Brown in the photo are Maritza Grooms (left) and Naychelle Gandia, who are members of the Free Soil Arts Collective.
Allison Maupin Reed ’10 and Sean Reed ’06 welcomed their first baby, Robert Wyatt Reed, on Dec. 3, 2018. Allison and Sean work at the University of Virginia.
Charlotte Trant ’11 played the lead female role in the February production of A Phoenix Too Frequent by the Waterworks Players, a community theater group in Farmville. Trant is the music teacher at Buckingham County Elementary and Primary schools.
Lynne DeCora ’12 and Thomas Kovach (above) were married Sept. 15, 2018, at Old Metropolitan Hall in Charlottesville. The couple lives in Charlottesville, where Lynne is a vendor success manager at Zola, an online wedding planning and registry website. Katie Cheseldine ’13 served as matron of honor at the wedding, and guests at the reception included Nancy McDonald ’12, Ashleigh White ’12, Casey Putney ’11, Matt Spalding ’05 and Colin Wilson ’09.
Anna Nelson Jones ’12 is expecting her first child; her due date was July 15. Jones, who has a master’s from Virginia Commonwealth University, is a social worker with Henrico County. Laura Bailey Nelson ’77 is her mother.
Peyton Nichols ’12 was awarded the bronze award from Association TRENDS in March for the conference promotional package that was created for the 2018 National Principals Conference. Nichols is an account manager for MDG (marketing design group), where she serves the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) on its marketing team for the Association and NASSP’s national conference. She has been with MDG, based in Reston, since 2016.
Nancy Ventura ’13 lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, and is an inside sales account manager for Cohesity, an IT startup. She has worked for Target Corp. and SunTrust Bank as an underwriter.
Danielle Sheridan ’14 joined Kinsale Insurance Co. as a construction underwriter in January. She had been a senior underwriter with U.S. Rick, LLC. She was an account executive with Crum & Forster from 2014-18.
Anne Cabell Dougherty, M.S. ’18, a school counselor at C.C. Wells Elementary School in Chesterfield County, came up with the idea for, and along with others implemented, her school’s “Kindness Week,” which concluded with Valentine’s Day. Students wrote encouraging letters to community members, performed random acts of kindness and donated $1 each to the Make-a-Wish Foundation’s Virginia chapter, raising $451. Dougherty recently finished her first school year at C.C. Wells, which she attended from 1998 to 2005.
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