Highlanders in the News: Week of Feb. 26, 2024

Every other 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.

Meeting the need for local teachers

A new partnership between Radford University and several local school divisions – the Southwest Virginia Teacher Apprenticeship Consortium (SWVTAC) – is already well on its way to fulfilling a need for regional educators.

In a Feb. 22 interview with WSLS-TV, Radford’s Director of Executive Communications Patrick Reed said the program recently launched its first seven apprenticeships, with students who are now on track to earn full teaching licensure by May 2025.

“This apprenticeship program will allow us to get licensed qualified teachers into classrooms where they’ll be serving the communities that they come from, and that’s the really special part,” Reed told WSLS-TV.  

(Screen capture: WSLS-TV)

“This is what we do at Radford University,” Reed said. “We put our students in a position to have professional opportunities from day one.”

The SWVTAC was announced Feb. 19 and is funded by “Grow Your Own” grants from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), as well as contributions from Radford University and local school divisions.

The program offers aspiring educators “a cost-effective, job-embedded pathway into the teaching profession,” the university said. “Upon successful completion of the program, apprentices will be offered a teaching contract with employment beginning in fall 2025.”

School divisions from Western and Southwest Virginia have partnered with Radford. They include Bland, Carroll, Giles, Pulaski and Wythe counties, as well as the cities of Galax, Radford and Roanoke. 

The SWVTAC was also reported by The Roanoke Times and The News Messenger, among other media outlets.

For more details about the apprenticeship, contact Radford’s School of Teacher Education and Leadership at stel@radford.edu.

Speaking of teaching....

In her first year of teaching science at Pisgah High School in Haywood County, North Carolina, Abigail Bentley ’18 has landed with a splash.

Last month, Bentley was named the 2024 Empower Beginning Teacher of the Year by the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT), a group that was established to support the intellectual and professional development of that state’s educators.

Bentley, who teaches biology and earth sciences, was chosen from 115 nominees, then 27 finalists, before taking the award on Feb. 15 at a ceremony held at Western Carolina University. 

Abigail Bentley '18 (Photo: The Mountaineer)

“I am so incredibly honored to be named the NCCAT 2024 Empower Beginning Teacher of the Year,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “I am thrilled to use this opportunity as a way to continue my advocacy for quality science education within my community and across our beautiful state.”

Her commitment to science was clear at Radford, when she completed her undergraduate work studying environmental toxicology with a concentration on agricultural pollutants.

She later worked as a research technician at East Carolina University – again looking at the environment, and molecular consequences to pollution – and more recently served as an educator at the Asheville Museum of Science.

On Feb. 21, Waynesville, North Carolina’s newspaper, The Mountaineer, published an extensive profile of Bentley that delves deep into her story to draw the road that led her to education and the ways she shares with students her knowledge of science.

“Abigail’s innovative teaching methods … have made a significant impact within our school community,” Pisgah High’s Principal Clint Conner told The Mountaineer.

“She has shown remarkable leadership qualities, enthusiasm and talent in her role as a new educator,” Conner said.

Piping up


The Radford University Highlanders Pipes and Drums are staples of such campus events as Homecoming, Highlander Days, opening convocation and both spring and winter commencement.

But this month, fans of the band will be able to spot them out in the wild.

In downtown Roanoke, to be more specific.

They’ll be among the line-up in this year’s Freedom First St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Shamrock Festival, followed by the Corned Beef and Co. Celtic Celebration, according to a Feb. 20 report by WDBJ-7.

The time-honored event is being held March 16. The procession begins marching at 11 a.m., heads down Jefferson Street to Campbell Avenue and wraps up at Williamson Road.

Here’s a link to Downtown Roanoke, Inc’s full calendar of events

Mar 1, 2024
Neil Harvey