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Veteran educator retiring

PULASKI COUNTY — Libby Vansant had never really planned on becoming a teacher.
Thirty-eight years later, now in the role of assistant superintendent of administration, she is retiring from the Pulaski County Public School system.
“Once I walked into the classroom for the first time, I knew there was nothing else I wanted to do,” she said.
Born in Mississippi and raised in Radford, Vansant earned a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from Radford University in 1970. Soon after, she began her career as an educator, teaching second grade at Newbern Elementary.
Vansant stayed at Newbern until 1977, where she taught fourth grade for two years, then taught language arts and science to third, fourth and fifth graders for three years.
In the meantime, Vansant earned a Master of Science degree in elementary education, along with certification in administration and supervision, both from RU.
In 1977, Vansant worked as a Title I supervisor, before taking on the role of assistant principal at Dublin Elementary School, which is where she had originally done her student teaching.
By 1989, she was working as a guidance counselor for both Critzer and Jefferson Elementary, after earning certification in guidance and counseling from Virginia Tech.
In 1990, she became principal of Claremont Elementary, where she stayed for eight years, before serving as principal at Riverlawn Elementary for five years.
Eventually, Vansant made her way to the school system’s central office of administration in 2003, where she worked as an administrative assistant to the superintendent and executive director of administration, before settling into her final role of assistant superintendent of administration in 2006.
As for why Vansant made the switch from the classroom to the central office, she said, “I always believe that you can make a world of difference when, as a teacher, you establish relationships with the kids you teach. Then I realized that one teacher in one little school like Newbern makes a world of difference for those 20 or 30 students in just the one year that you work with them. But there is an even bigger picture, so that’s when I decided that I ‘d like to try supervision or administrative work.”
After serving in both the role of a teacher and the role of administrator, she believes that both have been enjoyable but in slightly different ways.
“With teaching, you are rewarded every day in some way, “ she said. “In administration and supervision, those rewards are further out. You don’t get the same satisfaction of seeing kids learn every day, and you certainly have to wait to see the benefits of what you do.”
However, Vansant said her main focus — whether working as a teacher, principal, administrator or guidance counselor — has been to make sure that the decisions that she makes are what’s best for children.
“In that respect, those positions are all the same,” she said. She added, “My heroes are those who walk into school or work, remembering that they have the opportunity to bring quality to kids’ lives— and they do that every day.”
Working within the Pulaski County school system for 38 years, Vansant has definitely been witness to many changes and trends in education. She said that one of the largest changes has been the accountability system through the “No Child Left Behind” act and state accreditation.
There is also one thing that Vansant is happy to say has not changed.
“Even though I’ve changed positions frequently, I’ve stayed in Pulaski County because the heart and soul of educators in the county have always been focused on ‘we can change the world and make it a better place by doing what’s right for kids,’ “ she said. “It’s been that way since 1970, and that’s why I’ve stayed here.”
As for changes in education Vansant thinks will be seen in the future, she said she believes things will continue to move in the direction of accountability.
“All of us believe that we should be accountable and that we should show the academic growth of students,” she said. “I think that we are also coming back to how much more important it is to focus on the whole student rather than just academic growth. We certainly need to be more engaging with students and the community because we’re creating those citizens for tomorrow, not just students for today.”
Once she enters retirement at the end of this school year, Vansant said she is hoping to live a little bit without a schedule for a while. She added she’ll now have the chance to spend much needed time with family members.
Vansant also said she hopes to find opportunities to continue to learn and grow.
“I’m a lifelong learner,” she said. “I don’t expect to stop that just because I’m not going to be working every day. I don’t feel like retirement is the end. It’s just a new chapter being added in my life.”
Although Vansant is sad to leave, she is confident that the Pulaski County School system is in good hands.
“We are being led by a person of vision with Dr. Stowers (school superintendent Don Stowers),” she said. “He has created the culture that makes each of us strive to be just even better than we thought we could be. It’s just a wonderful place to work, and I think people are beginning to realize what a special place it is. One example is the number of applicants we’re getting for these positions.”
By positions, Vansant is speaking of the spots that will have to be filled for the large number of administrators, along with teachers, office assistants, maintenance workers, custodians, bus drivers and school nutrition program workers who will be retiring this year.
Those employees include:
•Linda Hill, assistant superintendent, curriculum, instruction and assessment, 24 years of service;
•Carolyn Kay Feely, director of special education, 20 years of service;
•Patricia Baker, teacher at Dublin Elementary School, 31 years of service;
•Judith Henry, teacher at DES, 19 years of service;
•Anne Carpenter, teacher at Dublin Middle School, 33 years of service;
•James Cook, Jr., teacher at DMS, 39 years of service;
•Judith Nelson, teacher at DMS, 39 years of service;
•Steven Bienstock, teacher at Pulaski County High School, five years of service;
•Michael Cox, teacher at PCHS, 30 years of service;
•Rebecca Hancock, teacher at PCHS, 27 years of service;
•Gary Lockard, teacher at PCHS, 33 years of service;
•Clark Reece, teacher at PCHS, 30 years of service;
•Randolph Tribble, teacher at PCHS, 24 years of service;
•Brenda Waller, teacher at PCHS, 36 years of service;
•Anna Burns, teacher at Pulaski Elementary School, 22 years of service;
•Conchita Robinson, teacher at PES, 24 years of service;
•Sharon Schneider, teacher at PES, 31 years of service;
•Emogene Adkins, teacher at Pulaski Middle School, 43 years of service;
•Marva Hickman, teacher at PMS, 35 years of service;
•Patricia Hale, teacher at Snowville Elementary School, 35 years of service;
•Ceretha Powell, office assistant at PCHS, seven years of service;
•William Crawford, maintenance, 32 years of service;
•James Tolbert, bus driver, eight years of service;
•Glenna Watson, bus driver, 34 years of service;
•Wallace Edmonds, custodian, six years of service;
•Cynthia Gladden, custodian, 14 years of service;
•Vicky Able, school nutrition program, 18 years of service; and
•Patsy Smith, school nutrition program, 33 years of service.

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Veteran educator retiring

PULASKI COUNTY — Libby Vansant had never really planned on becoming a teacher.
Thirty-eight years later, now in the role of assistant superintendent of administration, she is retiring from the Pulaski County Public School system.
“Once I walked into the classroom for the first time, I knew there was nothing else I wanted to do,” she said.
Born in Mississippi and raised in Radford, Vansant earned a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from Radford University in 1970. Soon after, she began her career as an educator, teaching second grade at Newbern Elementary.
Vansant stayed at Newbern until 1977, where she taught fourth grade for two years, then taught language arts and science to third, fourth and fifth graders for three years.
In the meantime, Vansant earned a Master of Science degree in elementary education, along with certification in administration and supervision, both from RU.
In 1977, Vansant worked as a Title I supervisor, before taking on the role of assistant principal at Dublin Elementary School, which is where she had originally done her student teaching.
By 1989, she was working as a guidance counselor for both Critzer and Jefferson Elementary, after earning certification in guidance and counseling from Virginia Tech.
In 1990, she became principal of Claremont Elementary, where she stayed for eight years, before serving as principal at Riverlawn Elementary for five years.
Eventually, Vansant made her way to the school system’s central office of administration in 2003, where she worked as an administrative assistant to the superintendent and executive director of administration, before settling into her final role of assistant superintendent of administration in 2006.
As for why Vansant made the switch from the classroom to the central office, she said, “I always believe that you can make a world of difference when, as a teacher, you establish relationships with the kids you teach. Then I realized that one teacher in one little school like Newbern makes a world of difference for those 20 or 30 students in just the one year that you work with them. But there is an even bigger picture, so that’s when I decided that I ‘d like to try supervision or administrative work.”
After serving in both the role of a teacher and the role of administrator, she believes that both have been enjoyable but in slightly different ways.
“With teaching, you are rewarded every day in some way, “ she said. “In administration and supervision, those rewards are further out. You don’t get the same satisfaction of seeing kids learn every day, and you certainly have to wait to see the benefits of what you do.”
However, Vansant said her main focus — whether working as a teacher, principal, administrator or guidance counselor — has been to make sure that the decisions that she makes are what’s best for children.
“In that respect, those positions are all the same,” she said. She added, “My heroes are those who walk into school or work, remembering that they have the opportunity to bring quality to kids’ lives— and they do that every day.”
Working within the Pulaski County school system for 38 years, Vansant has definitely been witness to many changes and trends in education. She said that one of the largest changes has been the accountability system through the “No Child Left Behind” act and state accreditation.
There is also one thing that Vansant is happy to say has not changed.
“Even though I’ve changed positions frequently, I’ve stayed in Pulaski County because the heart and soul of educators in the county have always been focused on ‘we can change the world and make it a better place by doing what’s right for kids,’ “ she said. “It’s been that way since 1970, and that’s why I’ve stayed here.”
As for changes in education Vansant thinks will be seen in the future, she said she believes things will continue to move in the direction of accountability.
“All of us believe that we should be accountable and that we should show the academic growth of students,” she said. “I think that we are also coming back to how much more important it is to focus on the whole student rather than just academic growth. We certainly need to be more engaging with students and the community because we’re creating those citizens for tomorrow, not just students for today.”
Once she enters retirement at the end of this school year, Vansant said she is hoping to live a little bit without a schedule for a while. She added she’ll now have the chance to spend much needed time with family members.
Vansant also said she hopes to find opportunities to continue to learn and grow.
“I’m a lifelong learner,” she said. “I don’t expect to stop that just because I’m not going to be working every day. I don’t feel like retirement is the end. It’s just a new chapter being added in my life.”
Although Vansant is sad to leave, she is confident that the Pulaski County School system is in good hands.
“We are being led by a person of vision with Dr. Stowers (school superintendent Don Stowers),” she said. “He has created the culture that makes each of us strive to be just even better than we thought we could be. It’s just a wonderful place to work, and I think people are beginning to realize what a special place it is. One example is the number of applicants we’re getting for these positions.”
By positions, Vansant is speaking of the spots that will have to be filled for the large number of administrators, along with teachers, office assistants, maintenance workers, custodians, bus drivers and school nutrition program workers who will be retiring this year.
Those employees include:
•Linda Hill, assistant superintendent, curriculum, instruction and assessment, 24 years of service;
•Carolyn Kay Feely, director of special education, 20 years of service;
•Patricia Baker, teacher at Dublin Elementary School, 31 years of service;
•Judith Henry, teacher at DES, 19 years of service;
•Anne Carpenter, teacher at Dublin Middle School, 33 years of service;
•James Cook, Jr., teacher at DMS, 39 years of service;
•Judith Nelson, teacher at DMS, 39 years of service;
•Steven Bienstock, teacher at Pulaski County High School, five years of service;
•Michael Cox, teacher at PCHS, 30 years of service;
•Rebecca Hancock, teacher at PCHS, 27 years of service;
•Gary Lockard, teacher at PCHS, 33 years of service;
•Clark Reece, teacher at PCHS, 30 years of service;
•Randolph Tribble, teacher at PCHS, 24 years of service;
•Brenda Waller, teacher at PCHS, 36 years of service;
•Anna Burns, teacher at Pulaski Elementary School, 22 years of service;
•Conchita Robinson, teacher at PES, 24 years of service;
•Sharon Schneider, teacher at PES, 31 years of service;
•Emogene Adkins, teacher at Pulaski Middle School, 43 years of service;
•Marva Hickman, teacher at PMS, 35 years of service;
•Patricia Hale, teacher at Snowville Elementary School, 35 years of service;
•Ceretha Powell, office assistant at PCHS, seven years of service;
•William Crawford, maintenance, 32 years of service;
•James Tolbert, bus driver, eight years of service;
•Glenna Watson, bus driver, 34 years of service;
•Wallace Edmonds, custodian, six years of service;
•Cynthia Gladden, custodian, 14 years of service;
•Vicky Able, school nutrition program, 18 years of service; and
•Patsy Smith, school nutrition program, 33 years of service.

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