Highlanders in the News: Week of Feb. 6

Every week, our Highlanders are using their education to do extraordinary things. Here, we’ll highlight some notable mentions from local, regional, national and international news media. Whether our students, alumni, faculty and staff are featured as subject matter experts in high-profile stories or simply helping make the world a better place, we’ll feature their stories.

Sandy Strayer ’91, Ed.D. ’22 (Henry County Schools)

A passion for education

This summer, Henry County will say goodbye to an official who has dedicated more than 30 years of service to its public education system.

Schools Superintendent Sandy Strayer ’91, Ed.D. ’22, plans to retire July 1, according to recent articles by The Harvest Foundation and The Martinsville Bulletin, and a story by Lynchburg’s WSET news.

In a news release, Strayer said she hopes to devote more time to her family, but also “plans to pursue avenues to continue to support her community and education.”

Strayer’s retirement from the position marks a key juncture on a path that began in 1992 when, just after graduating from Radford, she started teaching at Bassett High School in Henry County. She then worked as an assistant principal from 2001 to 2005, then became Collinsville Primary School’s principal, until 2010. A variety of administrative roles followed and, in 2018, she was officially named Henry County Schools’ superintendent. 

Last December, Strayer was also one of 17 members of Radford University’s first graduating class in the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) program.

“I’m very passionate about making education better,” she said in a recent Radford magazine story about that program.

On Jan. 29, the Martinsville Bulletin also posted a feature profile of Strayer, in which she shares such details as her favorite books, foods and types of movies, her hobbies, her ideal Saturday morning and her dog’s unique name.


A “Hub” of activity

At the start of this month, officials from the university and the city, together, announced several upcoming partnerships, including the creation of a new economic development support system to cultivate businesses around town and across the New River Valley.

That facility – The Hub at Radford – will take up residence in the former SunTrust bank building, on East Main Street, at the foot of Tyler Avenue, and the project’s first phase is slated to open later this year. The Hub will also be the new location of the Vinod Chachra IMPACT Lab, which offers competency-based education in high-demand workforce areas.

Other collaborations on the partnership’s “to do” list are an amphitheater, to serve both students and citizens, and the New River Water trail, a 61-mile project that would run through Radford and Pulaski County and be fueled by $1.5 million in federal support.

Those initiatives drew coverage by Roanoke’s WDBJ, and on WSLS news. For their stories, both stations spoke to Radford University Vice President for Economic Development and Corporate Education Angela Joyner, Ph.D., and to Radford Mayor David Horton ’90, communications officer for the Artis College of Science and Technology.  

Joyner said The Hub would provide such resources as programming workshops and faculty consulting, toward the goal of spurring local business.

“It’ll help businesses thrive, and hopefully we’ll use this as an opportunity to make both the services and the things that the university brings together with the city much more accessible long term,” Joyner said

A Feb. 1 article in The Roanoke Times also provided an overview of the projects to come. 

Madison Surber ’20

Postcard from the Magic Kingdom

Last year, Madison Surber ’20 was substitute teaching Pulaski County eighth grades, a job she loved.

This year, she’s did something a little different – an occupation she also enjoyed a great deal, and which involved young people, too – but it was a bit further to the south: She manned the counter at Walt Disney World’s Main Street Confectionery.

It was part of Surber’s current participation in the Disney College Program, an experience she shared with The Southwest Times on Feb. 6. Her internship started in August and recently concluded.

In the story she talks about what she’s up to, her future plans, the excitement of working at the fabled “Happiest Place on Earth” and also running into a fellow Highlander while on the clock.

“She went to college with my brother almost 20 years ago, and I ended up meeting this woman at my job in Disney,” Surber reflected.

“Wherever I end up, I want to have a positive impact and be surrounded by happiness,” she said.

Feb 10, 2023
Neil Harvey