School Board‎ > ‎


April 2016

posted Apr 18, 2016, 11:34 AM by F. Lester   [ updated Jun 6, 2016, 5:19 AM ]

The Salem Educational Foundation awarded the inaugural Cox-Hurley-Rowe Professional Development/Education Scholarship to two South Salem teachers at tonight’s school board meeting. Reading specialist Melanie Smith and Music Teacher Susan Bowles were named the first recipients of this prestigious honor that is named in the memory of three beloved South Salem educators who passed away way too early - Jori Cox, Betsy Hurley, and Linda Rowe.

All three of these honorees were loved and highly respected by their students, colleagues, and community. Each embodied a spirit of continuous learning and growth. It is very fitting to recognize three exemplary teachers by providing funds to go toward professional development or classroom use to other teachers in Salem who carry on their work and embody the same principles of loving, inspiring, and engaging children in their learning.

Each teacher received a $250 scholarship to use for her personal professional development or classroom use. In addition, family members representing each of the teacher for whom the award is named were in attendance.

SEF Recognition

The Salem School Board and School Division administration recognized and congratulated Connie Ramsey and Angela Schuyler-Meadows for receiving the National Board Certification for School Nurses. Connie is a school nurse at West Salem Elementary School while Angela is a school nurse at East Salem Elementary School.

National Certification in School Nursing represents a national standard in preparation, knowledge, and practice. Certification increases consumer confidence and indicates professional growth. In order to qualify for certification, you must be a licensed registered nurse, submit an academic transcript verifying a bachelor's degree or higher in nursing or related-field, meet clinical practice requirements of a minimum of 1,000 hours, complete an online application, and pass a certification exam.


Andrew Lewis Middle School student Christian Crawley was honored for representing the school division at the State Geography Bee.

In addition, Salem High School students, Jacob Beedle and Madolyn Legg, were recognized for their First Place finishes at the recent Governor’s School Project Forum competition. Beedle won first place for his work entitled "Comparison of DNA from Multiple Monocultures of L. digitatum" in the category of Chemistry/Cellular and Molecular Biology. Legg captured first place for her work called "Application of a Pick and Place Robot in Conjunction with a Touchscreen Interface." Her category was Robotics and Intelligent Machines.

Two others students who were not present at the meeting also excelled at the Project Forum. Nicholas Hood placed second in Materials Science and Trevor Buzzard finished third in Environmental Engineering.


March 2016

posted Apr 18, 2016, 10:55 AM by F. Lester   [ updated Apr 18, 2016, 11:05 AM ]

The 2016 Teacher of the Year in the Salem School Division is a veteran teacher with over a decade of classroom experiences, a published author and a master mechanic who can fix your car’s transmission in a flash.

“I never expected anything like this and it is truly amazing that I would receive this type of recognition,” says Derek Wray, an Automotive Technology Instructor at Salem High School and the 2016 Teacher of the Year in Salem. “I just hope this honor brings recognition to the program, because the more credibility we receive in the community, the more the kids will benefit.”

The humble Chairman of Salem High School’s Trades and Industrial Career and Technical Education Department is responsible for more than 400 students each year who learn the all-important trade skills of auto body, auto service and welding.

“For years there was a dividing line between students who participated in career and technical programs and students who were pursuing a more academic educational program, but in the last five years that has changed dramatically,” he says. “I’m now seeing kids who want to be here for the right reasons, plus our administrators in Salem have really made this a priority.”

“Derek's leadership has transformed this department and, as a result, students have multiple National Certification opportunities, and Salem's trades and industrial classrooms closely match the environments that students will face as they explore career opportunities in these industries,” says Curtis Hicks, Salem’s Assistant Superintendent for Instruction.

Wray graduated from the Universal Technical Institute in Houston, Texas in 1996 where he earned his Associate of Occupational Studies Degree in Automotive and Diesel Technology. He began his teaching career at Roanoke County’s Arnold R. Burton Center for Arts and Technology in 2004 and joined the staff at Salem High School in 2006. Between graduation and the start of his teaching career, Wray accumulated a decade’s worth of valuable hands-on experiences diagnosing and repairing vehicles at the Shelor, Pinkerton and Berglund dealerships in the area.

“Being able to assist these students makes me feel better than turning wrenches and simply fixing someone’s car,” he says. “I like the feeling of giving back and helping kids, and teaching fulfills the need that I have to a higher calling.”

Wray has a number of industry certifications, he wrote a book in 2010 and to this day contributes online automotive articles for, and not surprisingly, he makes up for his lack of traditional classroom training by rolling up his sleeves and getting to work.

“I think I often have to work harder because I don’t have the formal training,” he says. “I am always evolving, changing and trying to find the most productive way of getting the information to the kids. We really try to focus on life skills and instill a work ethic in them because I want them to understand that this is a job and the more they apply themselves the more knowledge they can take with them.”

Wray says he is extremely proud of the relationships and partnerships that the department has been able to cultivate with individuals, businesses and organizations in the region. Many of these have directly paid dividends with students getting advanced training and high paying jobs right out of high school.

“Getting jobs for students who want to do this for living is incredibly satisfying,” says Wray. “Many people are now realizing that having a skill is an extremely valuable way to go,” he says. “Whether it is cars or any kind of trade, it’s paying good money.”

In 2015, the Salem High School Automotive Program was listed in the Top 20 in the Nation by “Tomorrow's Technician” magazine. Salem was one of only three high schools to make the list alongside community colleges and post-secondary technical schools.

“Derek is a quiet and humble leader who sets an example for his students by his dedication, team work and character,” says Scott Habeeb, Salem High School Principal. “He never seeks accolades, but his impact on students, his colleagues, and our community is worthy of them.”

Wray and his wife, Paige, reside in Roanoke County with their four children.

“I sincerely appreciate this and it is truly unbelievable,” says Wray. “I try to put forth a relentless effort for these kids and I appreciate the administrators picking up on the countless hours we put in to make success happen for the students.”

All six teachers were honored by the School Board during a special reception earlier this evening.

The other Teachers of the Year representing the five remaining Salem schools are: 
Adam Simpson - Andrew Lewis Middle School 
Kelly Rowland - East Salem Elementary 
Shelley Littleton - G.W. Carver 
Courtney Stinnette - South Salem Elementary 
Traci Basham – West Salem Elementary


Teachers of the Year 2016

The talented Pride of Salem Band Director, who also performed onstage with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Percy Sledge, will become the new Assistant Principal at Carver next year, pending approval at tonight's School Board Meeting. Here's the full story.…/0B2D-OL0D4OAMc3I4ZzdXQ2ZrR…/view…

Simran Kaur Gill, a seventh grader at Andrew Lewis Middle School, was recognized at the School Board for being selected as the Region 2 winner in the Virginia Municipal League's “If I were Mayor” essay contest.

The essays describe what the student would do as if he or she was The Mayor to make cities and towns great places to live. Only eight Virginia regional winners were selected from more than 1,000 entries statewide.

Simran is pictured with Salem School Board Chairman David Preston.


The School Board recognized Maya Makked, the Salem City Schools 2015-2016 Spelling Bee Champion at tonight’s meeting. The Andrew Lewis seventh grader won the title last month after more than 20 rounds of spelling competition.

She will represent the Salem City School Division in the Roanoke Times Spelling Bee this Saturday. Adeline Velasquez, a fifth grader at West Salem was the Division Runner-up.

The board recognized the winners and alternates from each competing school in the division.


February 2016

posted Apr 18, 2016, 10:52 AM by F. Lester   [ updated Apr 18, 2016, 11:35 AM ]

The Salem School Board formally honored the Salem High School Auto Service Program and its instructor, Derek Wray, at tonight's meeting. The program was recently named one of the Top 20 Auto Service Programs in the nation by "Tomorrow’s Tech" magazine. This School of the Year recognition program was created by the magazine to find the best technical training school in the United States. The program is open to high schools or post-secondary schools that have a subscription to Tomorrow’s Tech.

Wray was honored along with the other key components of his success. Jay Hillison, Senior Tools and Equipment Manager with Advance Auto Parts, and James Reynolds, Service Manager with Rick Woodson Honda were also on hand to receive accolades for their contributions and support of the SHS Automotive Programs.

Hillison is responsible for working with his industry connections and convincing them to donate over $10,000 worth of tools and equipment for our SHS Automotive program. Reynolds helped with our NATEF automotive industry certification accreditation process and has generously given Mr. Wray full access to the Honda America technician training, both the online courses and the live classes in Richmond. This training is reserved for Honda dealership technicians only, but Reynolds has made an exception so that our students can learn the most modern technology from an up-to-date factory trained automotive instructor.

(L to R) Jay Hillison, Wray's son, Derek Wray, School Board Chairman David Preston and Rick Woddson Honda's James Reynolds.


The Salem School Board formally honored West Salem fifth grade teacher, Natalie DiFusco-Funk, at tonight's board meeting. The 2015 Division teacher of the year in Salem also was named the top teacher in the region and the best teacher in the Commonwealth in recent months.

The board honored Natalie by formally and unanimously passing Resolution 234.

In addition, Steve Sengstack, the Program Director for Apple Federal Credit Union, was on hand to surprise Natalie with her teacher of the year ring.

January 2016

posted Apr 18, 2016, 10:50 AM by F. Lester   [ updated Apr 18, 2016, 11:35 AM ]

The Salem School Board honored the city's newly crowned state championship football team at tonight's school board meeting. The board unanimously passed Resolution 233 that applauds the unbeaten 4A champs for their excellence on and off the field. Head Coach Stephen Magenbauer accepted the accolades on behalf of the team. Here's a link to the complete resolution…/A63HPW497DB8/$file/Resolution%20…

December 2015

posted Apr 18, 2016, 10:49 AM by F. Lester

Last week, Salem City Schools Superintendent, Dr. Alan Seibert, was named the state's Curriculum Leader of the Year. Tonight, the board members formally congratulated him for receiving the award in Williamsburg. Here's a link to the complete story…/0B2D-OL0D4OAMOFpNTENJN2VGV…/view…
Alan Seibert

Students from Salem's four elementary schools shared a meal with Central Office staff and School Board members tonight during a work session. The students and adults enjoyed pizza and salad and shared a number of constructive ideas during their dinner conversations. The students were asked to speak freely about what they like about their schools and what they see as areas ripe for improvement.

Everything from school lunches to grading scales was discussed and presented to the entire group at the end of the evening.


November 2015

posted Apr 18, 2016, 10:46 AM by F. Lester

Regina Meredith, Salem High School's Guidance Coordinator, was named Co-Recipient of the 2015 Counselor of the Year Award by the Virginia Counselors Association last Friday and tonight the Salem School Board members offered her a heartfelt congratulations.

Meredith is highly respected in Salem and across the region. She was the Roanoke Area Counseling Association Member of the Year (2014) and Salem High School Teacher of the Year (2012). Moreover, she demonstrates specific skills in leadership, professionalism, and service.

The VCA is a non-profit dedicated to meeting the needs of Virginia counselors. Specifically, VCA is a branch of the American Counseling Association (ACA). Members comply with the Ethics and Professional Standards as established by the ACA.


The Salem City School Board recognized the outstanding support staff employees in the division at tonight's meeting. These individuals often operate behind the scenes or outside of the limelight, but they are almost always the MVPs of their respective school or work area. Congrats to this year's winners!

SALEM HIGH SCHOOL: Susie Rudolph - Bookkeeper 
ANDREW LEWIS MIDDLE SCHOOL: Kimberly Grosskopt – Secretary
EAST SALEM ELEMENTARY: Leslie Giorno – Instructional Assistant 
G.W. CARVER ELEMENTARY: Jesse Jones – Building Manager
SOUTH SALEM ELEMENTARY: Bonnie Crotts – Secretary
WEST SALEM ELEMENTARY: Eileen Schwizer – Instructional Assistant
CENTRAL OFFICE: Susan Young - Administrative Assistant
TRANSPORTATION: Jerry Hall - Bus Driver

Support Staff

October 2015

posted Apr 18, 2016, 10:44 AM by F. Lester

The Salem City School Board and the division's administration congratulated Athletic Training Coordinator Chris Tucker and the entire Salem High School Athletic Training Department staff for receiving the National Athletic Training Association’s "Safe Sports School" 1st Team Award.

The Safe Sports School Award recognizes secondary schools that take steps to keep their athletes free from injuries. The award requires a number of sports safety actions.

The school must have a comprehensive athletic healthcare plan, promote safe and appropriate environments, provide proper sporting equipment, develop injury intervention strategies, rehearse an emergency action plan and promote a culture of safe play.

Tucker accepted the honor for the entire staff that includes - "Trimmy" Hickerson, Kari Whitney, Dr. Blackwood, Dr. Bolin, Dr. Farmer, Ken Cook, Remco Schreuders, Aaron Gresham and Zach Owen.

Chris Tucker


September 2015

posted Apr 18, 2016, 10:41 AM by F. Lester

West Salem fifth grade teacher Natalie DiFusco-Funk has been named the Teacher of the Year for Region VI in the state of Virginia. Region VI covers every school from the Alleghany HIghlands all the way to the bottom edge of the state in Danville..

Salem's reigning Teacher of the Year was notified of the honor by Superintendent Alan Seibert during a surprise assembly this morning in the West Salem cafeteria.

DiFusco-Funk will now represent the division and the region in Richmond next month where she could be named the Virginia Department of Education's statewide Teacher of the Year. There are eight regions in the state of Virginia.

Teacher of the Year with family and coworkers

July 2015 School Board Recognitions

posted Jul 15, 2015, 8:18 AM by F. Lester   [ updated Jul 15, 2015, 8:20 AM ]

Carrol, Preston, Washenberger

The Salem School Board formally recognized West Salem Elementary School at its July meeting for receiving the Board of Education's Distinguished Achievement Award. The Board of Education recognizes schools with the VIP awards which are based on student achievement and other performance indicators during the previous school year. 

In 2015 six schools earned the Governor's Award for Educational Excellence, two school divisions and 109 schools earned the Board of Education Excellence Award, and two school divisions and 137 schools earned the Board of Education Distinguished Achievement Award. The Board commended Principals Debbie Carroll and Amanda Gibson, the school's staff, students and parents.
(L-R) West Salem Principal Debbie Carroll, School Board Chairman David Preston and Salem Director of Secondary Education Diane Washenberger

May 2015 School Board Recognitions

posted May 14, 2015, 9:32 AM by F. Lester

School Board Chair David Preston and Aranark's Suzanne Quesenberry with (L-R) third place winner Taylor McMillion, a South Salem fourth grader Jack Leatherland, a 2nd grader at West Salem, who tied for second with Ayla Lampros, a 4th grader at East Salem and first place winner Evan Hedley from West Salem.

School Board Chair David Preston with Coach Mark Ingerson and some members of the most recent SHS state champion Forensics Team. The Board formally honored the 10-Time State Champs by passing Resolution 231.

School Board Chair David Preston with advisor Katie Lewis and members of the Silver Crown award winning SHS yearbook staff

School Board Chair David Preston with Sherri Shupe, who was recently named one of just eight Super Teachers by the Virginia Lottery.

1-10 of 47