Two Pittsylvania County, Virginia, elementary schools, both led by University of Lynchburg graduates, have been named 2023 National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education.
Union Hall Elementary, located in Chatham, and Southside Elementary, located in Blairs, were among 10 Virginia schools and 353 schools nationwide to be recognized.
Union Hall, led by Principal Amy Emond ’97 MEd, won in the “Exemplary High Performing Schools” category, which means it ranks among Virginia’s top schools for high-achieving students in English and mathematics as measured by state assessments.
“To know we are among only seven public schools in Virginia to receive this incredible distinction speaks volumes about the community, the students, and the parents we serve,” said Emond, who has a Master of Education in Special Education from Lynchburg.
“Each day I’m grateful for the privilege of serving as the principal of UHES. I’m so proud that my journey in education began at Lynchburg and has led me to where I am today.”
Emond’s daughter, Ana, is a current senior at Lynchburg, majoring in history and mathematics with a minor in medieval and Renaissance studies. “A big ‘Thank you’ to Lynchburg for the outstanding education offered to students,” Emond said.
Southside Elementary is led by Dr. Leslie Harris Hackworth ’08, ’10 MEd, principal, and Shelley Osborne Mayhew ’08, ’19 MEd, assistant principal. The school won for “Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing,” meaning it ranks among Virginia’s top schools for advancements made in “closing student subgroup achievement gaps in English and mathematics.”
Hackworth has a bachelor’s degree in human development and learning and an MEd in educational leadership, both from Lynchburg. As an undergraduate, she was a Westover Honors Fellow and was named the Richard Clark Sommerville Scholar — Lynchburg’s highest academic honor.
“My undergraduate experience in the education department and the Westover Honors program was excellent preparation for the workplace,” she said. “I enjoyed learning from experienced professors that were invested in my success as a teacher and provided feedback that helped me grow professionally along the way.”
Hackworth added that earning her MEd at Lynchburg was “incredibly valuable in preparing me for my administrative career.”
Mayhew, who also has a bachelor’s in human development and learning and an MEd in educational leadership from Lynchburg, echoed her colleague’s thoughts.
“The course of study and field experiences I was able to complete prepared me to be an effective classroom teacher and administrator,” she said, adding that she considers herself “lucky” to have earned her MEd at Lynchburg.
While being an elementary school administrator can be a “challenging career choice,” she said, “the skills and knowledge I gained during my time at Lynchburg have helped me to become a successful school leader.”