U.Va. Honors Alumni Who Excel in Classroom, Research and Leadership

July 24, 2012

The University of Virginia's Curry School of Education Foundation has announced the winners of its 2012 Outstanding Alumni Awards. Among them is a National Athletic Trainers Association hall of famer who was the first Ph.D. graduate from Curry's athletic training/sports medicine program, and a local high school principal, who in his first three years in the job has increased the on-time graduation rate and decreased the drop-out rate.

The Outstanding Higher Education Faculty Member is William Prentice, professor, Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Prentice was the first Ph.D. graduate from the Curry School's athletic training/sports medicine program, and he has continued to be a pioneer in his profession over the past 30 years. The graduate sports medicine program he directs at UNC is top ranked nationally. He served as the athletic trainer for UNC's women's soccer program for 26 years.

Prentice is the author of nine textbooks and has published more than 80 journal articles and abstracts. He has received numerous awards from the National Athletic Trainers Association, including most notably the Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award in 1999; the Sayers "Bud" Miller Distinguished Athletic Training Educator Award in 1997; and, the Educational Multimedia Committee Videotape Production Award in 1997. In June 2004. Prentice was inducted into the NATA Hall of Fame. In June 2006, the NATA established the William E. Prentice Doctoral Scholarship that is now presented annually in his name. In June 2008, Prentice was selected in the inaugural class as an NATA Fellow.

Prentice received a doctor of philosophy degree in sports medicine and applied physiology from U.Va.'s Curry School in 1980.

Robert Grimesey, superintendent of Orange County, Va., Public Schools, received the Outstanding Superintendent Award. He has worked for more than 30 years in education.

Grimesey served as superintendent of Alleghany County Schools from 2001-2009 and joined the 5,000-student Orange County Public School division in 2009.

"Bob Grimesey represents the level of personal and professional devotion which our profession, our University and our society want to see on vivid, daily display from its school superintendents," said Stewart Roberson, superintendent emeritus of Hanover County Public Schools. His "passion is without parallel. His brand of activism is uplifting and inspirational. His focus on the needs of America's public school children, teachers and families is sharp and keen."

In 2010 Grimesey was named Virginia PTA Child Advocate of the Year, and in 2007 he was named Region VI Superintendent of the Year by the Virginia Association of School Superintendents.

Grimesey received his doctor of education degree from Curry's administration and supervision program in 1991.

Thomas Taylor, principal of Charlottesville High School, received the Outstanding Principal Award.

Taylor became principal at Charlottesville High in 2008 and has proven himself to be "an outstanding leader, an agent of change for the right reasons and in the right ways, and a courageous educator doing a very tough job," according to Terri Perkins, Walker Upper Elementary School principal.

In his first three years, the on-time graduation rate at Charlottesville High increased from 74.6 percent to 83.8 percent, the drop-out rate decreased from 17.8 percent to 5.1 percent, student grade level retentions decreased by half and minority enrollment in Advanced Placement classes tripled. He is also serving a term on the Region Ten Community Services Board and is chair-elect of all state Group AA schools for the Virginia High School League.

Taylor earned a master of education degree from Curry in 2006 and a doctor of education degree in administration and supervision from Curry in 2010.

Three teachers were selected to receive $500 grants from the Curry School Foundation to be used for professional development.

The recipient of the Outstanding High School Teacher/Counselor award is Sharon Varney-Mahieu. She has been teaching French at Louisa County High School since 2005. Known for building a supportive classroom environment while providing rigorous instruction, she has grown the French program over the past seven years, adding both the school's first AP-level French course and an extra-curricular French club. She is also a highly valued clinical instructor for the Curry School's foreign language teacher preparation program. Varney-Mahieu received her master of teaching degree in foreign language education from the Curry School in 2006.

Mary Catherine W. Peterson received the Outstanding Middle School Teacher/Counselor award. Her teaching career with Virginia Beach City Public Schools spans 26 years. Since 2006, she has served as a gifted resource teacher at Princess Anne Middle School, where she collaborates with teachers throughout the building. Her school includes 300 identified gifted students. "The lessons delivered by the teachers with whom she collaborates bear her mark: rigor, engagement, collaboration, high-level thinking, creativity and problem-solving," said her principal D. Alex Bergren. Peterson received a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from the Curry School in 1986.

The recipient of the Outstanding PreK-Elementary Teacher/Counselor award is Joan Gilliland of Casa de Esperanza Academy, Houston. Gilliland taught special needs students for 10 years, became a stay-at-home mom, then began volunteering at Casa de Esperanza de los Niños, Inc., a Houston-area nonprofit agency providing residential services for abused and neglected infants and young children. She soon saw a need and established a small developmental preschool there. In 1997, she founded Casa de Esperanza Academy to educate children of all ages who are now in permanent adoptive homes but unable to succeed in other schools. Gilliland received a bachelor of science degree in elementary education in 1974.

The recipient of the Curry School Distinguished Alumni Award is Martin Ritchie, professor of counselor education and school psychology, University of Toledo.

For the past three decades, Ritchie has been a leader in the counseling profession at state, national and international levels. As a doctoral student at the Curry School in the 1970s, he successfully lobbied the Virginia General Assembly for the first counselor licensure law in the U.S.

Among his many local, state and national honors, he was named a Fellow of the American Counseling Association in 2011. He is a past president of the International Association of Marriage and Family Counselors (a division of the American Counseling Association), which he co-founded in 1985. Most recently, he served as chair of the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. He has been on the faculty of the University of Toledo since 1987 and currently serves as the chair of the Department of Counselor Education and School Psychology.

Ritchie received a master of education degree from the Curry School in 1974 and a doctor of education degree in counselor education from Curry in 1978.

Nominations for the Outstanding Alumni Awards come from members of the Curry School community and professional colleagues. The award recipients are invited to a dinner in their honor, to be held Oct. 25.