Education Alumni Honored During 30th Anniversary Event
From small beginnings of one graduate in 1981 to more than 2,600 alumni, Regent University's School of Education (SOE) has seen expediential growth in impact. Today, the alumni's influence on the changing face of education is apparent as the school celebrates its 30th anniversary. As part of the celebration, a special banquet on Friday, April 23, reunited three decades of graduates who were honored for their ongoing contributions to education.
"I remember shaking the hand of our very first education graduate who walked across the platform," said Regent Founder, Chancellor and President Dr. M.G. "Pat" Robertson. "She was the first ... and then there were ten, a hundred, and now thousands of teachers coming out of our School of Education." Robertson emphasized the importance of modeling Christian values in the classroom.
During the banquet, three alumni were recognized with Decade Awards for making a difference in their schools at a district level:
Alumnus of the 80s: Randy Brunk ('89), head of Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy in Ohio. As head of Cincinnati Hills, Brunk oversees more than 1400 students. His goal is to build a strong community with the students and their families.
Alumnus of the 90s: Dr. Doreatha White ('97), principal of Dreamkeepers Academy (J.J. Roberts Elementary School). In 1999, White became principal of J.J. Roberts, which had been placed on state academic warning. Within one year, the number of students meeting state standards in social studies jumped 70 percent and the school became one of Virginia's first Title I schools to be fully accredited. In 2007, it was selected as a Virginia Title I Distinguished School and received the Fordham University's National School Change Award.
Alumnus of the 2000s: Dr. Sharon Byrdsong ('08), senior director of Alternative Options for Norfolk Public Schools and interim principal of Lafayette-Winona Middle School. In 2006, Byrdsong was named national Principal of the Year. She was formerly the principal at Azalea Gardens Middle School, where through her leadership test scores improved significantly and students had the highest Standards of Learning scores in the eastern Virginia at the time.
A final award recognized Dr. Gary Maestas ('09) as Educational Leader of the Future. Maestas served as assistant superintendent of Plymouth Public Schools in Massachusetts from 2003 to 2008, and was promoted to superintendent in 2008. Maestas recognized his professors at Regent for equipping him with the necessary leadership skills and knowledge fundamental to his current role as superintendent.
"Our professors here really listened to the students' needs," he said. "The degree I have from Regent is a piece of paper. But my experiences from obtaining this degree, and what has inspired me throughout the process, is what will last forever."
SOE Dean Dr. Alan Arroyo highlighted several of the many other alumni accolades from the past 30 years, such as the 2010 Virginia State Teacher of the Year Catherine Webb ('04), who was honored for her work in autism; Dr. Roxie V. Godfrey ('05), the 2009 Teacher of the Year for the Virginia Association of Family and Consumer Sciences; and Dr. Carol Berry ('06), who is responsible for a number of process improvement projects that have become standard throughout the Navy's Voluntary Education Program.
The banquet concluded with a re-commissioning ceremony where Regent faculty and trustees prayed over the alumni. In his closing remarks, Regent President-elect Dr. Carlos Campo encouraged the alumni to speak into legacy. "Teach great truths to trustworthy people, who might pass on the knowledge to others."
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