Highlanders in the News: Week of Jan. 30

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.

Past Garden High School principal Janie Owens (standing) at a retirement ceremony for the school's previous leader, B.T. Quillen. Image courtesy of the Virginia Mountaineer.

Principal details

Across her 77 years, Janie Owens ‘67 has worn a lot of different hats and has held a wide array of claims to fame.

The eighth of nine children, Owens says the neighborhood in which she lives – Janey Hill – was named for her (with a slightly different spelling) by her mother, the town’s first postmistress.

She studied journalism at Radford, among other subjects, then taught history and social studies at Garden High School, in Oakwood, Virginia, before serving as that school’s principal for 10 years. 

A leukemia survivor, Owens has visited 46 of the United States, leaving only Alaska, Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin – territories she hopes to check off her bucket list sometime this year.

All those details and many more are included in an extensive 1,300 word profile of Owens that appeared on Jan. 26 in the Herald-Dispatch out of Huntington, West Virginia, and the Virginia Mountaineer.

“I thoroughly enjoyed teaching, and there were many things about being the principal that I enjoyed,” Owens recalled, and revealed a secret of her success: “My students supported me tremendously.” 

An educator remembered

A prominent Radford graduate and longtime educator, Margaret Newcomb Leonard ‘57, has been memorialized with an academic prize in her name.

Last month saw the institution of the Margaret Newcomb Leonard Excellence in Teaching Award at Bluefield University in Bluefield, Virginia.

Leonard, who died in March 2022 at age 85, taught American History and English in Pulaski County. An announcement of the award called Leonard “a dedicated educator who was keenly aware of the great power and responsibility a teacher held in the success of students.”

Often drawn to public service, she also volunteered at local hospitals and served the Virginia Auxiliary of Hospital Volunteers as an officer.

The endowed award, established by her husband, Robert Leonard, will be drawn from candidates nominated by Bluefield students. From that pool, five finalists will be selected, and then those will be narrowed down to one by a faculty senate vote. Each year’s recipient receives a cash prize and will have their name engraved on a plaque at the school. 

Louis Gallo, Ph.D.

Long story short

Anyone who ever had the phrase “get out of my yard!” hurled at them as a child will likely find details they can relate to in “Miss Yunt,” a new short story written by Louis Gallo, Ph.D., that was published Jan. 26 on Fictive Dream, an online literary magazine.

Three paragraphs long and weighing in at just under 350 words, “Miss Yunt” is a quick sketch of two youths who are verbally ejected from their neighbor’s yard. The narrator recalls a bitterness over the seeming unfairness and lists the forbidden garden’s many temptations, but also reflects on the perspective of the tormenter – “the sole heir to a vanquished kingdom ...” – as well as the woman’s own personal circumstances and those of the neighborhood, both of which have seen better days.

Gallo, a Radford University professor of English, is a frequent contributor to Fictive Dream and has published more than two dozen works on the site since 2018.

Feb 3, 2023
Neil Harvey
(540) 831-5150