Virginia Western Places 2nd in Digital Community Colleges Survey

virginia western community college roanoke

Virginia Western Community College placed second in the mid-sized colleges category of the Center for Digital Education’s 2015-16 Digital Community Colleges Survey. Now in its 11th year, the Digital Community Colleges Survey analyzes how community colleges across the country use a range of technologies to improve services for students, faculty, staff, and the community.

Virginia Western has been selected for Top 3 honors on the Digital Community Colleges Survey for each of the past six years. The college, which earned a first-place ranking in 2011, recently relaunched a new website.

Award winners demonstrated innovative uses of technology, including online courses and mobile environments, mobile apps, secure platforms and wireless networks.

This year’s Digital Community Colleges Survey also revealed insights about community colleges’ technology priorities. Colleges surveyed indicated that mobility devices/app support and website redesign are their top priorities in the coming year, followed by cybersecurity tools and testing, network infrastructure modernization, server consolidation and virtualization, and disaster recovery/business continuity. The survey also revealed that 59 percent of colleges now offer professional development courses on how to use mobile apps for instruction while 93 percent offer professional development courses on how to integrate technology into curriculum and instructional practices.

All accredited U.S. community colleges are eligible to participate in the Digital Community Colleges Survey within three classifications based on enrollment size.

Find the full list from the Center for Digital Education.

West Salem Elementary School Educator Named Virginia Teacher of the Year

teacher of the year and salemWest Salem fifth grade teacher Natalie DiFusco-Funk has been named the Teacher of the Year for the entire state of the Virginia. The announcement was made by Gov. Terry McAuliffe in Richmond on Oct. 19. The reigning Salem City and Region VI Teacher of the Year was selected over teachers from the seven other regions in the Commonwealth.

“Natalie is recognized by her peers, by her principal, by the superintendents of her region — and now by the commonwealth — as the best of the best,” McAuliffe said. “As the 2016 Virginia Teacher of the Year, Natalie will represent the tens of thousands of outstanding classroom educators whose creativity, content knowledge and love of teaching have made Virginia’s public schools among the best in the nation.” 

DiFusco-Funk said she knew she wanted to be a teacher on her first day of school as a fifth grader. “There was no other career path for me, and it was literally a dream come true when I began my career 12 years ago,” she said.

DiFusco-Funk is a 12-year veteran of the classroom and is in her fifth year as a fifth-grade teacher at West Salem Elementary. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Education and Master of Education at Boston College. DiFusco-Funk earned National Board Certification in Literacy in 2013. In 2010, she completed the Boston Marathon to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

“Natalie is an exceptional teacher and a consummate professional who positively changes the lives of young people and facilitates the growth and development of her colleagues,” Salem Superintendent H. Alan Seibert said.

The reception at the Executive Mansion followed a Virginia Department of Education ceremony honoring all eight 2016 Virginia Regional Teachers of the Year who were in the running to be named as the commonwealth’s top teacher. The other seven regional teachers of the year are:

  • Christopher Averill, a history teacher at Cosby High in Chesterfield County (Region 1)
  • Lauren Osborn, an English teacher at Poquoson High in Poquoson (Region 2)
  • Stacey Rice-Lee, an English teacher at Northumberland Middle in Northumberland County (Region 3)
  • Kimberly Scott, an English teacher at Franklin Middle in Fairfax County (Region 4)
  • Kenneth “Spence” White Jr., a drama, stagecraft and public speaking teacher at Jefferson Forrest High in Bedford County (Region 5)
  • Ruthanne Cole, a science teacher at Bland County High in Bland County (Region 7)
  • Edward McCann Jr., an agricultural education teacher at Appomattox County High in Appomattox County (Region 8)

Hidden Valley Makes Top High Schools List

top school roanoke

Hidden Valley High School in Roanoke County makes the grade.

The school is one of only three high schools in Virginia to make Newsweek’s list of “America’s Top High Schools 2015.” The ranking includes the top 500 high schools nationwide.

From the magazine: “The Newsweek High School Rankings assess schools based on a broad range of data to determine which institutions do the best job of preparing students for college.”

Factors such as graduation, and college enrollment rates factor into ranking. According to the list, Hidden Valley has a 99.6 percent graduation rate and 89.2 percent of students are college bound. Hidden Valley was ranked No. 432 overall.

You can find the full list of schools from Newsweek.

Learn more about all of the schools in the Roanoke Region, from K-12 to higher education.

Pinball Museum Opens in Roanoke

Roanoke Pinball Museum is preparing for its grand opening celebration.

That’s right. The Roanoke Pinball Museum will open at Center in the Square with fanfare on June 19 with plenty of pinball (there are 30-plus machines from almost every era), music and food.

The Roanoke Pinball Museum is an interactive museum dedicated to the science and history of pinball. The mission is to cultivate curiosity in science, art and history through pinball while preserving and honoring its role in American culture. The project has been a community effort, from finding machines and getting them ready for launch to artwork and promotion. Admission to the Roanoke Pinball Museum will allow patrons to play at their leisure, but also to learn. Pinball players, young and old, will be introduced to the history of pinball, the science behind the game, and have an opportunity to appreciate the color, composition and overall design of the backglasses and playfields.

And you won’t have to bring a pocket full of quarters to play. General museum admission is $10 per day for unlimited plays.

pinball museum roanoke

Here’s an excerpt from The Roanoke Times:

Center in the Square in downtown Roanoke intends to launch a time travel experiment.

How else to describe a colorful arcade that looks transplanted straight from the 1970s, filled wall to wall with the flashing lights and bell pings of pinball machines?

Here’s proof, though, that passage of time has brought a better future, at least for pinball fans: You don’t need a pocketful of quarters for this arcade.

Buy one $10 ticket to the Roanoke Pinball Museum and all 46 machines inside are free to play all day. Buy a membership and they’re free all year.

Center in the Square promises there will be science education programming to go with what might otherwise seem a quaint exercise in giving wannabe latter-day pinball wizards a chance to level up.

The Roanoke Pinball Museum is not an independent nonprofit. Center came up with it and will operate it, much like it does the six aquariums in the atrium.

Given the region’s penchant for nostalgia — witness the thousands that came to see the restored Norfolk & Western Class J 611 steam locomotive, or the 12,200-strong Facebook group devoted to Salem’s Lakeside Amusement Park — Center may well have a hit on its hands. (Read the full story.)

Roanoke Pinball Museum Grand Opening: June 19

  • 6-11 p.m. at Center in the Square
  • This event will unite multiple generations of Roanoke “gamers” and will include retro gamming (8-bit games) on the large digital monitors inside Center’s atrium.
  • Music by DJs st. giga and Stimulator Jones while Bastards of Fate will be preforming in Center’s atrium at 9 p.m.
  • Food, drinks, vendors and a variety of impromptu performances.
  • Atrium level activities are free to the public; admission to the museum is $10.