Well it is actually a funny story! We were living in Asheville, NC when we found out my husband, Tommy, got a job in Roanoke. I was teaching in a public school so Tommy moved before me while I finished out the school year. Growing up I went to Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, an independent school in Suffolk, VA, and I really wanted to leave the public school system and teach in an independent school. Tommy, who attended Norfolk Academy, thought his history teacher from high school, Will Stacey, was actually the Headmaster at an independent school in Roanoke. I asked Tommy to fax my resume to North Cross that day. To my surprise, I got a call from Liz Holt that afternoon who said she just happened to be at the fax machine when the fax came through and called me right away. I spent about five hours doing phone interviews with Liz and Will Stacey that very same day. Liz wanted to meet with me in person and happened to be traveling to South Carolina that coming weekend, so we planned to meet Converse College in Spartanburg, SC. Tommy, the boys, Hart and Massey (who were babies at the time) and I traveled to Spartanburg and I walked the campus with Liz while Tommy and the boys waited in the car. At the end of our visit Liz gave me a contract. I moved over the summer and started that August.
What was your first impression of North Cross?
I loved it right away. I automatically felt like I was right at home. I was teaching fourth grade with Victor Lamas, who was just starting his second year at North Cross and he was full of great ideas. I loved working with such a special group of people in the lower school, but what stood out to me the most was the fact that every single person in the lower school embraced me and I immediately felt that I was part of a big family here.
I’ve heard you are quite the athlete. What is your favorite sport?
I grew up playing a lot of sports. In high school and college I was on the softball, basketball, soccer, and swim teams. No matter what season it was I was always participating in a sport. I loved being involved in athletics, it really helped me learn what it was to be part of a team and how to juggle so many different things at once. Now, I spend a lot of time with my boys at their lacrosse game and I coach field hockey - two sports I never played, but have grown to love!
Everyone in the lower school knows about your collection of Pez dispensers. Tell me how that collection began.
It’s funny because I never really had any interest in Pez dispensers growing up and it didn’t actually begin until I was teaching at North Cross. One year, Jennifer Vermillion ’96, a North Cross alum who had come back and was teaching in the lower school, gave me one. I don’t even remember what the occasion was, but I placed it on my desk, and from then on the students would bring them to me for every occasion. I’ve now been collecting for over 10 years have HUNDREDS of them! I love having them in my classroom, the kids really enjoy them and it is a great ice breaker at the beginning of the year or when a new student arrives. I have actually started a collection for Wendy Lawrence as well.
Tell me about the fourth grade Powerpoint Presentations.
I added this project to the curriculum my second or third year at North Cross. At the time Powerpoint was still a fairly new program and it had just become accessible to us. The middle and upper schools were starting to require Powerpoint aspects to their projects and presentations so I wanted to start students on it early. This project also has a huge public speaking component which I think helps students tremendously if they start at a young age.
What is your favorite North Cross tradition?
I love the fourth grade trip to Williamsburg, the JK/Buddy Program, and the Pep Rallies, I’m so glad those are back, but my favorite event each year is the Fat Pencil Ceremony. It is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate a students life at North Cross. Although we left for a few years when Hart ’15 and Massey ’17 were in middle school, it has been such a blessing to see them grow up here, and I look forward to experiencing the same with Steele ’29.