U.Va. Curry School Alumni Honored for Their Service to Education

July 7, 2010 — The Curry School of Education Foundation at the University of Virginia has announced the winners of its Outstanding Alumni Awards for 2010, which recognize exemplary professional contributions made by Curry School alumni.

Among the seven winners, selected from a national pool of nominees, is third-grade teacher Donna DeGroat of Stony Point Elementary School in Albemarle County.

Other Curry Foundation honorees in Virginia are Staunton superintendent R Steven Nichols, Gloucester High School principal Layton H. Beverage and Brandon Middle School teacher Carolyn C. Stamm of Virginia Beach.

All the winners will receive their awards at a banquet in September at the Curry School’s new Bavaro Hall.

The recipient of the Curry School Distinguished Alumni Award is Robert O. Brinkerhoff, professor emeritus at Western Michigan University. Brinkerhoff's distinguished career in the field of workplace learning and performance spans 36 years. Known as a highly successful practical evaluator, he was the pioneer of the Success Case Evaluation Method for evaluating the effectiveness of training. He has consulted with dozens of major companies and organizations in the United States and around the world, and he is considered one of the most influential evaluators practicing today.

"Robert Brinkerhoff's work has had tremendous impact on a wide range of human resource and human capital development efforts," Curry School Dean Robert C. Pianta said. "He truly embodies an educator in every sense of the word, and the Curry School takes great pride in recognizing his career and association with the school."

Brinkerhoff received a master's degree in social foundations of education in 1971 and a doctorate of education degree in evaluation research in 1974, both from U.Va.'s Curry School.

The Outstanding Higher Education Faculty Member is Dorene Doerre Ross, a 1979 recipient of a doctorate in education in early childhood education from the Curry School and the Irving and Rose Fien Professor of Education at the University of Florida. A former second-grade teacher, Ross joined the University of Florida faculty in 1979.

Her research focuses on improving the educational outcomes for children and youth living in poverty and children otherwise disadvantaged by cultural or linguistic barriers or disabilities. The University of Florida has recognized her work with an Undergraduate Teacher of the Year Award, the Teaching Improvement Program Award and the Scholarship of Engagement Faculty Award.

Staunton's Nichols received the Outstanding Superintendent Award. Nichols, who received a master's degree and a doctorate in education in administration and supervision from Curry, has served the education profession for nearly 40 years, beginning as a kindergarten teacher. Since becoming Staunton's superintendent in 2007, he has established a reputation as a strongly child-centered leader with a focus on maintaining the highest educational standards, despite facing three increasingly difficult budget seasons that required school closings and realignments.

An adjunct faculty member of the Curry School, Nichols served four years as chair of the Virginia Region IV Instructional Leaders Consortium, a group responsible for instructional planning for the 22 school divisions in the northern region of the state. He has received the prestigious Educational Leadership Award from U.Va.'s chapter of Phi Delta Kappa, and served two terms as the chapter's president.

Beverage, who received a doctorate in education in administration and supervision from Curry in 2003, received the award for Outstanding Principal. He has been principal at Gloucester High School, the lone high school in Gloucester County, since 2005. Under his leadership, the school has met requirements for full state accreditation each year and has met adequate yearly progress goals under the No Child Left Behind Act.

Beverage was named 2009 Outstanding Youth Advocate by the Gloucester County Youth Commission and received the 2009 Competence to Excellence Award from the Virginia Board of Education. He is also past president of the Gloucester Point Rotary Club.

Three schoolteachers were recognized with awards this year. They each will receive a $500 grant from the Curry School Foundation to be used for professional development.

The Outstanding High School Teacher is Lindy Crace of Clark Central High School in Athens, Ga. A recipient of a master's in teaching from Curry in 1999, she taught at Chinle High School in Arizona for five years. Since 2004, she has taught English at Clarke Central, an inner-city school, to ninth- through 11th-graders and Advanced Placement students. 

A National Board-certified teacher, she leads the school's Freshman Academy, a small learning community to support ninth-graders. She also coaches the junior varsity volleyball team and academic team and co-sponsors PeaceJam, an extracurricular club addressing social issues. Crace recently received the Clarke County School District's Frusanna S. Booth Award for Teachers of English and Language Arts, the highest teaching honor offered by the district.

The Outstanding Elementary School Teacher is Donna DeGroat of Stony Point Elementary School in Charlottesville. An employee of Albemarle County Public Schools since 1986, DeGroat – who earned a bachelor's degree in special education from Curry in 1986 – has taught at Stony Point for nearly 20 years. Not only does she teach a third-grade class, but she is a technology lead teacher for Stony Point, a member of the School Improvement Team, and an instructional coach for the school division.

She received a Golden Apple Award sponsored by Better Living Building Supply and Better Living Furniture in 2006.

The Outstanding Middle School Teacher is Carolyn C. Stamm of Brandon Middle School. A teacher in Virginia Beach City Public Schools for the past 22 years, Stamm – who received a master's degree in gifted education from Curry in 1987 – has been the gifted education resource teacher at Brandon since 2007. In 2009 she was named Outstanding Teacher of the Gifted both for Virginia Beach City Public Schools and for Region II by the Virginia Association for the Gifted. She coaches her school's Academic Challenge team, as well as the Math Counts competition team.
Candidates for each of the outstanding alumni awards are nominated by members of the Curry School community and professional colleagues.