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New faculty

Our newest faculty members have officially been welcomed into the Norfolk Academy family!

The group received orientation on Monday and Tuesday, two days when they learned about our Reopening Guidelines, Honor System, technology, and more. They were also able to tour campus – wearing masks and keeping a safe social distance – and meet many of their new colleagues.

Here are the teachers joining our family for 2020-21:

Lower School

Beth Clark, Third Grade Teacher

Beth earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education at Virginia Tech. She then began her time in the classroom as a first and second grade teacher in Chesapeake Public Schools. She later pursued a career in business for several years, eventually returning to the classroom as a teacher at the Manor Schools in Virginia Beach and most recently at Linkhorn Elementary. Beth is no stranger to Academy – she and her husband, Bill ’80, are parents of Lindsey ’10 and Bryson ’14. Also, Beth served as a substitute teacher in the Lower School. 

Stacy Dobbs, Librarian

Born and raised on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, Stacy graduated with honors from Longwood University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies and earning her license for instruction in grades pre-K through 8. She taught math and science for one year in Prince Edward County in Farmville, Virginia before moving to Virginia Beach, where she taught at the middle school level in the Virginia Beach Public Schools for 20 years. Primarily a history teacher, Stacy also taught math and English. After many rewarding years in the classroom, she decided to pursue her passion for libraries and literacy. She received her Master's degree in Library and Information Science from ODU.

Catie Ferguson, Fourth Grade Teacher

Catie is a graduate of Florida State with a degree in family and child services and a concentration in Education and psychology. She later earned a Master’s in curriculum and instruction from UVA. For the past few years, she has been working at St. John’s Episcopal Parish Day School as an administrative assistant. Prior to moving to Florida for a family military relocation in 2018, she served Norfolk Academy for nearly five years in many areas, such as Summer Programs, the first grade in the Lower School Teaching Associate program, Breakthrough at Norfolk Academy, and on the softball field. Catie’s last NA assignment before relocating to Florida was as a fourth grade classroom teacher.

Gray Grandy, First Grade Teacher

Gray comes to Norfolk Academy with many years of experience in the elementary school classroom. After earning a Master’s degree in teaching at UVA, she began in the Henrico County Public Schools as a first grade teacher. While at Harvie Elementary, she served as the First Grade Team Leader, was a science core content teacher and served on the Instructional Leadership Team. During her summers in the Richmond area, Gray taught study skills at the Collegiate School. In 2011, Gray moved to Hampton Roads to teach at the Williams School as a first grade teacher. She has been an instrumental part of the faculty at Williams for the past eight years, serving on school-wide committees for experiential learning, diversity, technology, strategic planning, admissions and retention, new teacher and professional development. Gray is currently pursuing a Reading Specialist Certification at UVA’s Curry School of Education.

Kendell Griffin, Second Grade Teacher

Kendell returns home to Norfolk Academy. She is an alumna, class of ’95, served in the Lower School from 1999 to 2013, and is an NA parent. She graduated from William and Mary with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Education and then went on to earn her Master of Science in Education at ODU. She began her career in education as our Director of the After Care program for a year before moving to the second grade classroom in 2000. She then took some time to stay at home as a full-time mother. For the past year, Kendell has returned to the classroom as a kindergarten teacher at Old Donation Episcopal Day School.

Kathleen Locke, Teaching Associate

Kathleen earned a Bachelor of Science degree in management science at Virginia Tech. She then began her career at Landmark Communications as an instructional technology assistant. Kathleen went on to work at the University of Virginia’s enrichment programs, as she organized summer camp and other programs for gifted students. Kathleen began her time in the classroom as a fourth grade teacher at Greer Elementary in Charlottesville while pursuing a Master of Arts degree in teaching from Mary Baldwin. Kathleen moved to the Tidewater area to continue her work in education. She taught at the Williams School as a resource teacher for four years before becoming the owner and general manager of the School of Rock. Most recently, Kathleen served as the volunteer and program manager at Tidewater Arts Outreach.

Dixon O’Donnell, Teaching Associate

A native of Norfolk, Dixon graduated from Maury High, where she played tennis and sailed. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from JMU with a major in Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies and a minor in Elementary Education. While in college, Dixon spent five summers as a counselor at Camp Alleghany for Girls in West Virginia, serving as head counselor in her final summer. Her passion to help young people started here in Tidewater at CHKD, when Dixon was an active member in a Junior Circle for years, serving as President of this Circle in her final year. She continued her work with children as a SquawKids ski instructor at Squaw Valley in California. Dixon also worked as a gardener for several seasons at the A Bar A Ranch in Wyoming. She will serve as a Teaching Associate and assist in athletics.

Maureen Speers, Sixth Grade English and Social Studies

Maureen earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology at Miami University in Ohio. She then began her career in education as an ESL English teacher on the Marshall Islands. When Maureen returned to the United States, she worked in the field of Human Services, serving in the foster care system in Ohio and later at Family and Child Services in Washington, D.C. At this time, Maureen pursued a Master of Social Work degree with clinical concentration from Catholic University. She went on to work as a social worker at the High Roads School of Washington, D.C. Maureen began her time at Norfolk Academy as an active parent volunteer serving as our Lower School Author Visit Coordinator for five years, as well as volunteering in Admissions and with the Middle School Community Service program. Last spring, Maureen filled the role of long-term substitute teacher in the Lower School.

Shelly Stearney, Fifth Grade Teacher

Shelly graduated from Texas A&I with a Bachelor of Science – Education, majoring in English. She has extensive teaching experience around the United States – at schools in Texas, Florida, and California. Over this time, Shelly taught middle school English (earning Teacher of the Year one year), as well as high school English. For 10 years, she served as a fourth and fifth grade teacher at Baylake Pines School, formerly in Virginia Beach.

Middle School

Evan Mitchell, Spanish

Evan is a graduate of the Tower Hill School (a K-12 independent school in Wilmington, Delaware), where he was an accomplished three-sport student-athlete. Evan received his undergraduate degree in political science from Davidson College. He spent six months in Peru doing a homestay, speaking Spanish almost exclusively and teaching English. Evan then entered the business world as a web designer for IBM in Chicago. He has decided to return to the independent school environment to teach and coach. Evan will teach Spanish and coach basketball and baseball.

Vanessa Yearick, History

Vanessa is a 13-year independent school student, having graduated from Berkeley Prep in Tampa, Florida. Vanessa earned her bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics with a minor in Hispanic studies and then continued her legal studies at the University of Pennsylvania, earning her Juris Doctor from the University’s Law School. Vanessa practiced law in New York City as a corporate finance associate. In 2015, she moved to this area to work at a law firm where she eventually became partner. In 2019, Vanessa was selected to Inside Business’ Top Forty Under 40 as an honoree – a ranking of the area’s best leaders, innovators, volunteers and high achievers under the age of 40. Vanessa has decided to turn her career focus to education to fulfill her passion for education, for developing young people, and for the study of history. She will serve as Assistant Director in the Literacy Fellows program, as a Middle School history teacher, and a track coach.

Upper School

Betsy DiJulio, Art

Betsy graduated summa cum laude from the University of Southern Mississippi, Honors College. She later earned a Master’s in art history from Vanderbilt and later a postgraduate degree from George Washington University. Betsy is a talented educator and artist, coming to us from Princess Anne High School, where she taught art and art history for many years. She is also a cookbook author and blogger; and a widely published freelance writer and columnist on topics of art and art education, home and garden design, food, eco-issues, artisanal businesses, and day-hiking. Betsy’s culinary memoirs have been published by Alimentum and featured on WHRO's Writer's Block.


New faculty enjoyed their orientation for the 2020-21 school year on August 17-18, 2020.

New faculty enjoyed their orientation for the 2020-21 school year on August 17-18, 2020.

New faculty enjoyed their orientation for the 2020-21 school year on August 17-18, 2020.

New faculty enjoyed their orientation for the 2020-21 school year on August 17-18, 2020.

New faculty enjoyed their orientation for the 2020-21 school year on August 17-18, 2020.

New faculty enjoyed their orientation for the 2020-21 school year on August 17-18, 2020.

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