Katherine Farmer and Principal Teresa Johnson (left/right)
Boys Home staff and students are excited to announce Katherine Farmer’s five-year work anniversary. In addition to her anniversary achievement, she was the 2023 Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce recipient for “Educator of the Year.” She serves as a full-time math teacher, currently teaching algebra, geometry and algebra, functions and data analysis (AFDA). Katherine holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Appalachian State University in secondary mathematics. Additionally, she holds a master’s degree from Hollins University. Her connection to Boys Home was through the late Connie Back, the former assistant director of Boys Home School. Prior to her current position at Boys Home, Katherine taught at Alleghany High School for eleven years. Her love for teaching and math began at a young age. When she was eight, her father installed a chalkboard in the garage and that summer was filled with playing school with friends. She also had an eighth-grade math teacher who stood out for being kind and making math fun.
Now as a teacher, she often hears, “I hate math. It is hard!” Katherine states, “I want to make learning fun for my students. I often turn the lessons into games and have the students be the teacher for part of a class.” Katherine was asked what she enjoys most in her current position. She states, “I thoroughly enjoy seeing a student succeed. That is my ‘why.’ I witness their progress as they transition into harder math courses and succeed. Some students come forward when they need extra help and ask for tutoring after school. Perhaps what is most rewarding is watching my students graduate. I am confident that they are all around a better student than when they first arrived at Boys Home.” As an educator, Katherine helps to build a community that inspires young men to succeed in math by making it fun, encouraging peers to support each other and offering extra assistance to students when it is needed. Congratulations, Katherine, on both of your achievements!
Program Director Kenny Bess, Principal Teresa Johnson and Executive Director Chris Doyle (left/right)
Boys Home of Virginia has earned full accreditation from the Virginia Association of Independent Schools (VAIS). Founded in 1973, VAIS is the leader in advancing and advocating for independent school education in Virginia. The VAIS accreditation program is one of a select few recognized at the international level through the International Council Advancing Independent School Accreditation (ICAISA). VAIS also is recognized and approved by the Virginia Board of Education through the Virginia Council for Private Education (VCPE).
The voluntary accreditation process is a rigorous undertaking involving a comprehensive self-study, including input from all school constituents. A team of peer evaluators from VAIS member schools spent several days on campus reviewing the self-study report, documentation and curriculum; meeting with administrators, trustees, students, parents, faculty and staff and observing campus life. The team concluded the in-depth visit with a detailed written assessment of Boys Home’s philosophy, mission, instruction and program, curriculum, community and residential life. The finalized report was then submitted for accreditation approval by the VAIS Board of Directors.
Executive Director Chris Doyle states, “I am excited for Boys Home to receive this recognition from the Virginia Association of Independent Schools (VAIS). The accomplishment is the result of the high standards of the Boys Home program and the quality and commitment of our staff. I have seen first-hand the impact that strong independent schools provide through my experiences as a student, teacher, parent and trustee. Boys Home is committed to providing our students with a life-changing experience and membership in VAIS will be a great resource to help us fulfill our mission to help each student strive towards becoming productive members of society by developing his full potential – spiritually, mentally, physically and socially.”
Boys Home staff and students are excited to announce Lynda Specht’s twenty-five-year work anniversary. She serves as a full-time medical coordinator. Originally from Scottsbluff, Nebraska, Lynda found herself in Covington, Virginia, after her husband was relocated for work. When Lynda first arrived at Boys Home she served as an admissions coordinator. Her connection to the organization was through the late Mary Wheatley (married to former Executive Director Donnie Wheatley), who was a true champion of Boys Home. Lynda first met Mary through Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Covington. Prior to Boys Home, Lynda served as a part-time secretary at Emmanuel. She states, “I was so inspired by Mary’s commitment to her faith. When we first met, I felt like I had room to grow. Mary had astounding grace, showed complete kindness and became my mentor in my faith journey and at Boys Home.”
Lynda was asked about her key takeaways during her twenty-five-years. She states, “God knew I needed to come to Boys Home. My connection to Mary helped me grow tremendously in my faith. My time at Boys Home has been fulfilling. I have so much empathy for the families and students we serve. I witnessed firsthand the difficulty in the transition of first arriving at Boys Home for guardians and students. In order to stay here for a long period of time, you have to have your heart in the mission. I get excited watching students positively progress and succeed in the program.” Lynda exhibits a key value of Boys Home, a Godly life, by exhibiting compassion, kindness and serving others. Congratulations, Lynda, on this milestone in your career!
Boys Home staff and students are excited to recognize Dennis Calhoun’s twenty-year work anniversary. He currently serves as the lead student advisor. During his twenty years, Dennis has served as a team leader, case manager and student advisor. Dennis has an undergraduate degree from Appalachian Bible College in theology and a master’s degree from Liberty University in seminary. Prior to Boys Home, he worked in residential childcare for ten years at a children’s home in Pennsylvania. In addition, he served in the Army National Guard for six years.
Dennis’ previous experience has served him well in his role at Boys Home. He states, “My military experience allowed me to see the value in discipline, a need for clear expectations and the reason for high standards. I quickly found that the mission of Boys Home is something I can invest in and use as my personal mission. I focus on character development with the students we serve.” Dennis was asked what he enjoyed most about his current role. “I enjoy the meaningful student relationships and seeing individuals positively progress while at Boys Home. I have a love for camping and fishing. I like to share that passion with the students.” Dennis’ values align with the Boys Home mission of helping students become productive members of society by developing their spiritual, mental, physical and social potentials. Congratulations, Dennis!
Boys Home staff and students are excited to announce Dr. Monroe Farmer’s five-year work anniversary. He serves as an Ecology and Earth Science teacher at the Boys Home School. Monroe served in the Marine Corps and retired from the Army as a colonel. After his military career, he pursued a career as an optometrist and owned his own practice for thirty years. In addition to his education as an optometrist, he holds a degree in forestry. He came to Boys Home in 2017 to tutor several biology students and was impressed with the Boys Home mission. Monroe felt called to stay.
He states, “My military career has served me well at Boys Home. I know firsthand the importance of young men needing rules, discipline and structure. I have had several of the same students since I arrived in 2017 and watching them succeed over the last five years has given me great joy. I believe in the Boys Home program.” As a teacher and a mentor, Monroe helps to uphold the Boys Home values of respect, integrity, a Godly life and accountability. These values help to develop and strengthen the students the program serves daily. Congratulations, Monroe!