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Kathryn Starke, Graduate Alumna, Creates Tackle Reading

Tackle Reading is a movement that will make a major impact on America’s illiteracy rates. The USA has 32 million adults, 14% of the population who can’t read. 80% of 9 year olds from low-income schools read below grade level.  Over 45 literacy experts, authors, NFL players, celebrities, and educational foundations collaborated to create a book complete with lessons, reading activities, and inspiring stories.  Thousands of Tackle Reading books will be donated to inner-city elementary schools nationwide. This book is created in conjunction with, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to support injured athletes with educational support.

The reading resource will provide quality reading instruction for children of all ages. In addition to the book, author Kathryn Starke will kick off a Tackle Reading tour that will provide professional development opportunities, literacy coaching, and speaking engagements to elementary schools across the country. Starke has over a decade’s worth of experience coaching and training urban elementary teachers and administrators in reading instruction. She successfully brings failing schools to full accreditation in one year.

Starke founded Creative Minds Publications, LLC, to promote creative and educational materials for children.  For information regarding the Tackle Reading book, tour, and speaking engagements, email or contact her at 804-357-0104.

We are so proud of our graduate alumna as she pursues her dreams!  Check out her feature in the local newspaper: and Kathryn’s blog post:


Southern Virginia Elementary Mathematics Coalition to Enhance Student Achievement through Teacher Professional Development

Masters of Education students are currently taking advantage of a grant written by Dr. Emerson-Stonnell of the Mathematics Department.  She offered information about the program below.  We are so excited to have this opportunity for our students and are so proud of her work to help her students here at Longwood.

Southern Virginia Elementary Mathematics Coalition to Enhance Student Achievement through Teacher Professional Development is a Virginia Department of Education Mathematics and Science Partnership grant. Longwood University’s Mathematics and Computer Science Department is partnering with the College of William and Mary and Old Dominion University to provide professional development for mathematics teachers in grades K-5. Five participating elementary Virginia schools are grant partners during 2015-2018 grant period.

Longwood University is working with Prince Edward County Elementary School in Farmville and Clarksville Elementary School in Mecklenburg county. Dr. Virginia Lewis and Dr. Maria Timmerman design and lead seven days of mathematics professional development each academic year at Prince Edward Elementary School and at Clarksville Elementary School, respectively. Each professional development day is designed to meet the individual needs of the school. Because they are offered during the regular contract hours, each mathematics teacher is expected to attend each day.

Suzanne Towler, a Longwood graduate of the Elementary and Middle School Mathematics master’s program, serves as a part-time mathematics specialist at Prince Edward Elementary School. She is a grant employee who works with teachers throughout the school year.

Longwood University is also teaching graduate courses to mathematics leaders in each school. During the 2017-2018 academic year, the professional development creation and implementation will gradually shift from Longwood University to the school’s mathematics leadership team. After the grant ends, the school leadership team will support mathematics teachers by continuing to develop and lead mathematics professional development based on the school needs.


2016 VCA Convention

On November 9-12, 2016 the Virginia Counselor’s Association Convention took place in Williamsburg, VA. The event included two keynote speakers, Kevin Hines and Dr. Michael Gillette, and nine education sessions, each with multiple sessions attendees could choose from. Four Longwood students currently in the program-Chris Barnes, Jessica Hamlett, Brittany Bishop, and Cameron Patterson-joined many Longwood Alumni and Counselor Education faculty for the weekend.

Jessica Hamlett, a counseling student currently in internship at Helton House, and Brittany Bishop, a first year counseling student, were both attending the conference for the first time. Chris Barnes and Cameron Patterson were both honored as VCA student fellows. Barnes and Patterson both completed applications earlier this year and were chosen along with two other masters students for this honor and Longwood was the only University represented with two student fellows.

Barnes presented a poster on assessing trauma in children. He argued that often when working with children, counselors struggle to get an accurate picture of the child’s history and trauma exposure. Counselors typically are left using clinical interviews with care givers who cannot or will not give complete information. The poster asked counselors to consider trauma as an underlying cause for behavior, discuss signs and risk factors, and look at some common assessment tools available for counselors.

Dr. McCleskey, Dr. Wynne, and alum Amrita Sethi collaborated to present a session on counselors working as allies for LGBTQQI clients and students. The session explored how counselors can be allies to clients, students, and potential clients who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and/or intersex. They argued that due to rapid social change, ensuing public debates, and recent legislation, persons who identify as LGBTQQI may be experiencing increased stress. Counselors were called to provide valuable support and advocacy through identifying as allies to these populations.

Dr. Doyle presented updates from the Virginia Board of Counseling. This session, focused on recent updates to the licensure process for LPCs, changes in residency requirements, and other revisions to the professional counselor regulations.

The event was a great success for Longwood University in education and representation. The next convention will take place November 9-11, 2017 at the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, VA. All Counselor Education students, faculty, and alumni are encouraged to attend and represent Longwood!



VAASL Conference 2016

The Virginia Association of School Librarians annual conference took place in Norfolk, Virginia on October 20 -22, 2016. The conference included keynotes speakers Robert Furman and John Schumacher, both well-respected authors with a vast knowledge on writing books and librarianship. All attendees were given the opportunity to join the President’s Reception and Author Celebration where over a dozen authors from around the state were available to meet and talk. The conference also included over 135 fantastic concurrent sessions on topics like the Every Student Succeeds Act, copyright, makerspaces, digital citizenship, advocacy and collaboration, technology, and, books! What a great opportunity to learn about best practices and be inspired by professional colleagues!

Longwood was very well represented with one-hundred and forty alumni of our master’s program in attendance at the conference. We love to see all these professional and active Lancers!


Wil Miles’s Experience at the 2016 VP Debate


Wil Miles, a current graduate student in the Health and Physical Education program, was selected as one of 101 students to attend the 2016 Vice Presidential Debate at Longwood.
He answers questions about his experience below:



What was it like to be selected?
It was surprising and felt very grateful for the opportunity to hear the two candidates speak. I wasn’t expecting to honestly get the lottery ticket, and it was by pure luck of the lottery system. When I heard my name called, I was excited to be attending the national historic event that was about to take place on our campus.



What did you think of your overall experience?  
  • Fantastically organized and eye opening.
  • Couldn’t believe the transformation that was done to Willet hHall and campus as a whole, looked like a new place.
  • Enjoyable time talking to our state and national leaders within the political parties.
  • An experience I will never forget.

Margaret Cory’s Experience at the 2016 VP Debate

Margaret Cory from the Special Education master’s Program was fortunate enough to attend the 2016 Vice Presidential Debate at Longwood University, as she was one of 101 students to be selected from the student lottery.  She answers our questions about her experience below!

What was it like to be selected?

I actually never thought I would be selected but I figured why not put my name in the lottery. During the lottery I was at home in Chesapeake, so I wasn’t there in person. A couple of my close friends were still in town and decided to go to the concert. As my name was called they immediately facetimed me, and I didn’t believe them until I got the official email about winning. Overall, I was pretty excited that I was going to be apart of Longwood history.

What was your overall experience?

I had a really good experience, there was a lot of waiting around in Bedford. But once we were allowed to head to the debate hall, all the excitement of the debate started to set in. We were in the debate hall for about an hour before the debate actually started. As we waited around, we had the opportunity to talk to some really important people. I had the privilege of meeting the Secretary of Education for Virginia, Senator Mark Warner, and many more. During the debate, I had an excellent seat and could see everything going on. I couldn’t stop thinking how cool everything was, so many cameras, and people who I’ve only seen on TV, were in the same room as me. After the debate, I figured the Vice Presidents would be rushed out, and then we would be instructed as to what to do next. But, we are actually able to say hello and take pictures with the candidates. That was probably my favorite part, and with a little bit of waiting, I was able to take a selfie with Mike Pence and his wife. Without a doubt, the debate will be one of my best memories. It has been really cool to see the debate on social media and major news network and be able to say “I was there!”

What will you take with this experience when you are working professionally in the future?

I am currently studying Special Education, so I was really hoping to hear the views the candidates had on educational policies, and essentially the job market, as I will be looking for jobs starting next semester.  However, the candidates only really brushed over some issues involving teachers, such as paying taxes. Teachers aren’t the only ones who receive a salary from public taxes, but I never really saw it the way Senator Kaine presented it as. One of my biggest take aways that came from the debate, was when we were waiting around in Bedford and the Debate Hall. I had the opportunity to speak to some important people, some education related and some not. In my eyes, a special education teacher is essentially an advocate for students with special needs. To be able to make an impact on my student (in a state-wide, country-wide sense), I need to have the skills and network to do so. A career goal of mine is to become a principal or well-known advocate for students with disabilities. If I want to achieve this goal, I need to have the skills in order to network with people who have the ability to change and create new policies and laws that benefit my students. Having the opportunity to speak the Secretary of Education for Virginia, allowed me to build my network and advocate for my future students.


Alumna Danielle Hennessey Answers Questions About Her Role During the VP Debate

Danielle Hennessey received both her undergraduate degree and graduate degree from Longwood before accepting a job with the University.  She currently is the Assistant Director for the Center of Financial Responsibility and Center for Cyber Security in the College of Business and Economics.  Danielle was kind enough to share her experience as a volunteer coordinator for the 2016 Vice Presidential Debate.  It is always an exciting opportunity when students remain active leaders on campus once they graduate.  Great work, Danielle!

What planning and preparations were you involved with?

I actually had a job as the volunteer coordinator for the VIP events. It was an incredible experience for many reasons but my favorite thing about the process was getting to see (and feel for myself) the pride that the students, faculty, and staff have for Longwood University. This was a HUGE undertaking, but like Louise Waller said, we go above and beyond at Longwood University. I only heard positive remarks from the media and CPD [Commission on Presidential Debates]. As a volunteer coordinator you never know what kind of volunteers you are going to get. I am happy to report that almost all of my volunteers showed up early to their shifts, and all of them were excited to help wherever they could. I cannot thank my volunteers enough for the hard work they put in over this weekend.

What did your job as the volunteer coordinator for the VIP events entail? 

There were six volunteer coordinators, and we were tasked to manage the volunteers in various locations. I was the volunteer coordinator for the VIP events on Monday and Tuesday. This was a very cool process to be a part of because we were pulled in early enough that we were able to review the volunteers and place them in their assignments. Macrae Hammond, who was in charge of all of the volunteers (MAJOR shout out to her and her hard work in this role), organized a spreadsheet which had the volunteers information and their interests. Their interests were of utmost importance to us and instead of just putting them in a random placement, we spent almost two days placing them into positions which correlated with their interests. I’ve heard from a few volunteers who worked with the media that they got internships or were asked to apply for an internship with the media outlet they were assigned. How exciting is that?! After we placed the students in their positions, we stayed in regular contact with them and planned a training session specific to their volunteer placement. This was a great time for the volunteers to get to learn more about our expectations of them, their placement, the events that would be taking place, and it was a time for them to ask questions. After the training, I updated my volunteers regularly and was their contact person if they had any questions. During Monday and Tuesday (October 3rd and 4th) I made sure the volunteers were showing up to their shifts, answered any questions they had, and I helped university staff run the events.

How did your experiences as a student in the past with Longwood impact you during this time?

Longwood University prides itself on developing citizen leaders, and I definitely think I have become one of those leaders. The faculty and staff at Longwood push students to do more and be the best versions they can be.  I felt that as a student, and I feel it now as a staff member. I was able to bring my experiences at Longwood to the table in this position and am grateful for my time as a student at Longwood University. When the debate started, I couldn’t help but to get a little choked up because of the pride I have for this beautiful institution and the people who continue to work to make it even better. Although this process was, at times, stressful and definitely tiring, it is something I am honored to have been a part of.

Danielle is pictured on the right side of the picture, next to her husband, Brandon.


Erin Weisenberger Reflects on Her Experience at the 2016 VP Debate!

Erin Weisenberger, a current graduate student in the Communications Sciences and Disorders program here at Longwood, was selected as 1 out of 101 students to attend the 2016 Vice Presidential Debate. She reflects on her experience below:

“The whole experience was awesome. I can’t believe I got to be part of such a huge event! I appreciated all the little things like getting through secret service, talking to some famous politicians, and walking around the debate hall. Simply seeing how all the news networks broadcasted the debate live was a once in a lifetime experience!

During the actual debate, I believe had a different sense of how both politicians, Tim Kaine and Mike Pence, were feeling during the debate because I could see both of them at all times. I could see them fumbling with a pen, writing things down, and playing with their hands. For example, Kaine furiously scratched notes out on a notepad and Pence shook his head constantly. I would not have picked up on all those things had I watch the debate on television. Being in the audience made the whole event seem more real. I felt like I was being spoken to personally much more than if I was watching it on television.

Also, I was able to meet politicians and discuss with them relevant issues to speech-language pathology, my future profession. I met our current Governor McAuliffe. I briefly spoke to Senator Kaine about the Affordable Care Act and how certain issues impact not only those who rely on it but also professionals like us! Overall, the experience was pretty cool. I have some neat pictures to remember the event, too! I appreciated having this unique opportunity to expand upon my knowledge while attending Longwood University.”


Joey Siverd’s Experience at the 2016 VP Debate

Joey Siverd, a current graduate student in Longwood’s Counselor Education program, wrote about his experience during the 2016 VP Debate at Longwood.  He is pictured below with Jonathan Karl, Chief White House Correspondent for ABC News.

“The Vice-Presidential Debate was my favorite memory as a Longwood University student. Everyone who has attended Longwood knows just how uniquely special it is and it truly gave me a sense of profound joy to see others be able to share our feelings due to us hosting the Vice-Presidential Debate. It was very endearing  to see the sacrifice made by so many people which allowed for the debate to function in the high manner that it did. I feel that our university truly did this Vice-Presidential debate justice and that it was a memorable experience by all who were part of it and tuned in to watch.

Originally, I was placed for volunteer duties with Security due to my experience in my undergraduate majors of Criminal Justice and Sociology. After that, I I learned in an e-mail from Dr. Virginia Beard that I was very fortunate to be selected by the volunteer coordinators and the Criminal Justice faculty to be part of a smaller group of students who would get to have a behind the scenes tour with the Secret Service and work more closely with them on the day of the debate. After receiving that placement (and the appropriate credentials) I was notified via e-mail by Macrae Hammond that I was selected by a team of Longwood staff to serve as a candidate “stand-in” on the day before and the day of the debate.

Reading the email was extremely exciting as I learned just how much of a hands-on experience I would be able to have. My actual experience was phenomenal. My counterparts and I were tasked with helping the CPD staff get their their lighting, sound, camera angles, etc. in order so that they would be prepared when the real candidates and moderator were on stage. The CPD staff was very professional and extremely friendly so I felt very at ease to just sit on stage and debate my opponent. We debated hard-hitting issues such as whether or not pineapple belongs on pizza, whether or not Batman is a real superhero, what Tom Hanks’ best movie is, etc. My volunteer duties yielded benefits such as getting to help Elaine Quijano prepare for her role as moderator, have access to the media center and spin alley which provided the opportunity to meet media and political figures, and attend the debate on Tuesday night.

While it was breathtaking to be in the midst of so many important things and people during the last week, I really thought about how our community made my experience and the great experiences of so many other students possible. So many things had to fall into place for me to be so fortunate as to have this opportunity. Our theme of citizen leadership rang true in that so many individuals worked hard for the greater good that was this debate. I am so thankful for the opportunity that I had but am more happy that Longwood has been able to nationally showcase all of the things that we love about it so much.”


Alexis Kiriakos’ Reflection of Her 2016 VP Debate Experience

Alexis Kiriakos, current graduate student in the Reading, Literacy, and Learning program was fortunate to be selected as one of 101 students able to attend the 2016 Vice Presidential Debate at Longwood University!  She reflects upon her experience below:

When I heard about Longwood University hosting the Vice Presidential Debate, I was so excited for the opportunity to volunteer! Being a senior at the time, I knew I would be here for the event since I was attending graduate school for the Reading, Literacy, and Learning Program at Longwood. Through all the construction and changes going on throughout campus, the reality of the debate did not really hit me until I got my volunteer assignment.

I got placed in the Media Center working at Commission of Presidential Debates (CPD) desk. This was such an amazing experience in itself. Working with the CPD gave me an inside look of what goes into putting on not only the VP Debate, but also all of the presidential debates. I also got to work with the media by giving them their seat assignments and getting them checked in properly. It was such an honor to work so many amazing people from so many different places and backgrounds.

On Sunday night, I attended the concert on campus and the ticket winners were announced. Never did I think that they would actually call my name! I was excited to be at the concert and see everything getting set up, but I was not excepting to win a ticket to the debate.

Being at the debate was a surreal experience. Waiting to go into the debate hall, I got to meet such incredible people that were attending the debate. President Reveley gave an opening speech and welcomed the audience once we were in Willet Hall. At that moment, I have never been more proud to be a Lancer. Him sharing with the audience this beautiful place we call Longwood University, was such a humbling moment that was filled with so much pride. Just moments later, the nation’s eyes were on the place that I have called home for the past four years. After the debate I got to meet Mike Pence and his family (and most importantly- take a selfie with him).

Longwood University successfully and graciously hosted the Vice Presidential Debate. Being chosen to be apart of the experience is so humbling. I am thankful to be a Lancer and for Longwood giving me this opportunity that I will forever cherish.