CoffeeBreak is a newsletter distributed to Averett faculty and staff to keep them up to date on campus activities and information.
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This is a special edition of Coffee Break to introduce new members of the Averett family. As you pass these people around campus, please introduce yourself and make them feel welcome.
A warm Averett welcome is extended to:
Dennis Ballance is the media specialist for the department of nurse education. He is also a GPS student working toward a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Dennis is a native of Wilmington, N.C. He and his wife, Kelly, moved to South Boston in 2003. They have two children, Grayson and Harper. Dennis enjoys music, running and coaching youth athletics.
Brad Bass is an artist in residence for the theatre department. Brad will be pursuing a degree in theatre education here at Averett. He has performed on Broadway in "Wicked," with the Tony Award winning cast of "Memphis" and in "Jersey Boys." A native of Ringgold, Brad graduated from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City.
Aimee Brenner is a visiting assistant professor of education who comes to us from Virginia Tech, where she is completing a doctorate in instructional design and technology. Aimee holds two master's degrees - a master of arts in curriculum and instruction and a master of science in educational leadership. She has been a K-12 teacher and administrator, adjunct faculty member at Virginia Tech and Roanoke College, and currently works at Virginia Tech's Faculty Development Institute as a presenter and instructional designer. She is certified as an advanced online instructor, and has presented at various conferences from Blacksburg to Anaheim.
Nancy Dameron, clinical assistant professor in nurse education, previously worked at Virginia Western Community College (VWCC), where she was an assistant professor in the nursing program. While at VWCC, Nancy implemented a pilot project on collaborative learning that was subsequently incorporated into the VWCC Level I curriculum. She also has worked as a staff nurse as well as a hospice clinical coordinator. She brings with her not only professional experience, but civic experience through her work with FEMA's Emergency Management Institute and the Martinsville Area Community Foundation Hospice Fund.
Zana Këpuska Devlin '08 returns to Averett as a visiting instructor in the biological and physical sciences department. She earned her master of science degree in pathology at Duke University. While at Duke, she worked as a graduate research assistant in immunology and radiation biology. In addition to her academic expertise in the biological and physical sciences, Zana brings with her immense international experience - she has been able to apply her education in places such as China, Kosovo and Croatia.
Ronnie Dix joins the Averett softball program as an assistant coach. A native of the Danville area, Ronnie has a wealth of coaching knowledge in baseball and softball that dates back to 2000. From 2008-11, he coached the Blue Ridge Bombers 18U fast-pitch team. He was also an assistant softball coach at Tunstall High School from 2008-09. Prior to that, he assisted with the Tunstall baseball team from 2004-05 and coached the Danville Bulls 16U baseball team from 2000-04. Outside of athletics, Ronnie has worked for Nestle since 1988. He attended Montreat College from 1981-83, where he studied business administration. He lives in Danville with his wife, Sharon, and children, Corey and Taylor.
Amy Echeverria joins Averett as the costume shop supervisor and costume designer for the theatre department. She has a bachelor's degree in theatre with an emphasis in acting from California State University of Bakersfield and master of fine arts in scenography with concentrations in costume and lighting design from Humboldt State University. Prior to joining Averett, Amy taught at Humboldt State and was the assistant costume shop manager from 2007-11. She also worked as the lead seamstress at The House of Greg Lauren: Fashion House, was the head seamstress/first hand for A Noise Within, a theatre company in California, and was costume shop manager at the Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival.
Henry Echeverria, yes, he and Amy are married, is the technical director and sound engineer for the theatre department. Henry has worked as a draftsmen/fabricator for Benchmark Scenery and Depict Studios, both in California. In addition, he has been a scenic carpenter for Acme Design Group Studios, a production manager/technical for A Noise Within, a prop shop supervisor for Humboldt State University and a production manager/technical director for Kingsmen Shakespeare Company. Henry also taught classes at Humboldt State. He received his bachelor's degree in theatre from California State University of Bakersfield and a master of fine arts degree in scenography with concentrations in technical director and scenic design from Humboldt State.
Laura Evans '12 joins the women's soccer program as an assistant coach after playing four seasons for the Cougars - served as a team captain during her senior season. She gained coaching experience with the Commonwealth Soccer Programs as a camp instructor from 2010-11 and also served as a travel coach for the Danville Soccer Club in 2012. Laura holds a USSF E License. A native of Virginia Beach, she earned USA South Academic All-Conference honors and was Averett's representative on the USA South All-Sportsmanship Team. Laura is currently working toward her MBA at Averett.
Antoinette "Toni" Gazda is a visiting instructor in the English department, and will coordinate Averett's service learning initiative during the coming year. Toni has worked as an adjunct instructor at Averett since 2011. She received her master of arts from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where she worked as a writing tutor as well as executive assistant to the vice chancellor.
Alexandria "Alex" Grandia is an intern athletic trainer for the Cougars. A native of New Mexico, Alex was born and raised in her hometown of Albuquerque. She graduated in May 2012 from the University of New Mexico with a bachelor of science degree in athletic training. Throughout her time as an undergrad, Alex worked with the various Division I sports at New Mexico. Her most unique experience was working the New Mexico State Fair Rodeo, where she helped cover everything from bull riding to barrel racing and roping.
Valerie Harr '11, a native of Pittsylvania County, is working as a graduate assistant in the equestrian studies department. She was a founding member of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association Team and rode on the Intercollegiate Dressage Association team as well. Valerie is managing the freshmen work experience and teaching two riding courses.
Dr. Ralph Hawkins joins Averett as an associate professor in the religion department. Ralph comes to Averett from Kentucky Christian University, where he served as assistant professor of Biblical studies. His areas of expertise include Old Testament, near Eastern archaeology and the history and religion of Mesopotamia. He has authored numerous books, with his latest published by Eisenbrauns this summer. He earned his doctor of ministry at The School of Theology, University of the South, and his doctor of philosophy at Andrews University.
Brad Lopez is the new running back coach for the football team. A native of Axton, Brad coached high school football, most recently at George Washington High School, for 23 years before joining Averett. While at GW he served as the assistant head coach and passing coordinator. He graduated from West Virginia University with a bachelor of science degree in secondary education.
Glenn Mungcal joins the GPS Program's advising team in the Tidewater Region. No stranger to Averett, Glenn previously worked with the program in Tidewater nearly four years ago. He returns to the family now that his wife has finished her graduate studies in pharmacology in Nevada. While in Nevada, he served as an adult literacy instructor of the College of Southern Nevada.
Dana Nelson is the manager for the Schoolfield House Booksellers. Born and raised in Pittsylvania County, she has worked with trade books for Barnes & Noble (B. Dalton Booksellers) for 14 years before coming to Averett. She has been the textbook coordinator at Averett since April 2010.
Karen Oaks, clinical assistant professor in nurse education, previously taught at Danville Regional Medical Center's School of Health Professions since 2007 as a nursing instructor. Prior to becoming a nurse educator, Karen worked as a staff nurse at DRMC. She earned her master of science in nursing degree from Old Dominion University, and currently is working on a family nurse practitioner post-master's certificate through East Tennessee State University.
Dr. George Odongo joins Averett as assistant professor of special education. A native of Kenya, George comes most recently from Texas Tech University, where he earned his doctor of education in special education. While at Texas Tech, he taught a host of courses, from introduction to educational research to human development in education. He has presented papers at conferences across the United States, and is currently a member of the American Council on Rural Special Education and the American Association of the Deaf-Blind.
Sara Porter is the new assistant volleyball coach. A native of Toledo, Ohio, she played four seasons at Defiance College from 2007-2010. An outside hitter, Sara played in 429 sets over 118 matches and averaged 2.23 kills and 3.17 digs per set. She earned Heartland Collegiate Athletic All-Conference Honorable Mention honors in 2009 and was named to the conference all-tournament team the same season. She graduated in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in wellness and corporate fitness.
J.D. Tyree is the tight end coach for the football team. A native of Martinsville, Tyree graduated from Columbia University where he played two seasons of football before his collegiate career was cut short due to injury. Prior to joining Averett he coached two summers at Magna Vista High School.
| ||Other new faces you may have seen around campus include:|
Patrick Bolen '08, defensive assistant coach for the football team
Johanna Bradford, assistant tennis coach for the women's tennis team
Justin Cozart '12, flight instructor
Tony Harris '11, IT Technician
Heather Merchant, corporate education liaison, GPS, Danville
Thomas Underwood '08, assistant athletic trainer
Travis Wireman '11, flight instructor
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