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Education College Honors New Class of Alumni Fellows

The Darden College of Education on Nov. 15 recognized the achievements of six of its graduates, who have gone "above and beyond their duties," during the Alumni Fellows awards luncheon (see photo below). The annual event, part of the college's observance of American Education Week, was held at the Ted Constant Convocation Center.

The Darden College of Education Alumni Fellows program honors one graduate from the various departments for their outstanding efforts. This year's fellows - Sabrina Carnesi, Mark Clemente, Bainy Cyrus, Ed Lee, Alfred Roberts and Lisa Waldbaum - were nominated by their academic departments and selected by the education college.

"The charge of providing quality education to American children is not an easy one. Often, those who dedicate themselves to this endeavor go unrecognized and at times fade into the background. Old Dominion believes that it is important to identify and recognize those individuals who have made this commitment," said Linda Irwin-DeVitis, dean of the college.

In addition to being honored, the new class of fellows shared their life experiences with students and faculty during scheduled sessions throughout the day.

The 2011 fellows are profiled below:

Sabrina Carnesi

Sabrina Carnesi is a librarian at Crittenden Middle School Library in Newport News.

She has been active in the Virginia Educational Media Association (VEMA). She presents annually at the VEMA conference on a variety of topics, and her PowerPoints are posted on the Internet. She served as the regional director of the York Regional section of VEMA in 2009-10. In that position, she was in charge of the regional conference. Working closely with the library program faculty at ODU, a partnership between ODU and York regional was formed and the conference was held at the Virginia Beach Higher Education Center.

Carnesi is also active professionally in the American Library Association, where she serves on numerous committees. Through her work with the 2008 Best of the Best from the University Presses Committee, she was featured on C-SPAN. She also hosted a national chat session for ALA Connect on Oct. 6, 2010, titled "Using the Planning Guide with School Libraries Count! Personalized Results to Advocate for Your School Library Program." She is the American Association of School Libraries' L4L coordinator for the Virginia Educational Media Association.

In her own school, Carnesi has created the Knitting 4 Life club. Students from Crittenden Middle School are learning to knit by making scarves. The first is for someone in their family; the second is for a friend; the third is for charity; and the fourth is for themselves. On her website, author Phyllis Hall Haislip described the project and said, "What beautiful yarns! What a great project!"

Carnesi is also a published author, with four articles in national journals for practicing school librarians. For two of the articles, she is the only author; she wrote the other two with the other school librarian at Crittenden Middle School.

Mark Clemente (M.S.Ed. '96)

Mark Clemente has been a chemistry teacher in Virginia Beach for 15 years. His first teaching assignment was at Ocean Lakes High School, where he taught first-year chemistry, advanced placement chemistry, and semester chemistry electives in organic and analytical chemistry as part of the Math and Science Academy.

After 11 years at Ocean Lakes, he was "loaned" to the National Institute of Aerospace and was part of the K-12 Education Outreach team. In this capacity, he developed both technology-based and NASA-based classroom materials to support STEM education. He also conducted teacher professional development. He served in this capacity for three years, returning to the classroom in September 2011. He is currently teaching first-year and advanced placement chemistry at Kellam High School.

Clemente served active duty as an officer in the U.S. Navy for six years and was unsure what he wanted to do next. "My last duty station was Dam Neck and one of my collateral duties was running the Adopt-a-School program between Dam Neck and Birdneck Elementary. I both ran the program and volunteered at the school. I enjoyed my volunteer time very much and decided to investigate teaching as a career," he said.

From there, everything just seemed to fall into place. Clemente believes that "teaching has definitely been the most enjoyable, rewarding experience" of his life.

Bainy Cyrus (M.S.Ed. '04)

Bainy Cyrus has worked as a job coach for Hired Hands and Associates since 2006, assisting people with disabilities in competitive employment.

Cyrus was born in Norfolk with a severe-to-profound hearing impairment and attended Clarke School for oral education at age 5. After seven years there, she came home for good and attended regular school without mainstreaming. With the help of note takers and private tutors, she graduated from Virginia Tech in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in landscape horticulture.

She worked as a landscape designer for nearly 20 years before deciding to change careers. In 2004, Cyrus earned a master's degree in counseling from ODU. Cyrus lives in Norfolk with her hearing husband, Steve, sharing their interests in hiking, biking, gardening and RVing.

Ed Lee '82

Ed Lee serves as senior district vice president for the YMCA of South Hampton Roads and executive director of the Blocker Norfolk Family YMCA, one of the largest downtown YMCAs in the country.

He was born in Philadelphia, but his father was a career Marine Corps officer, so he moved up and down the East Coast until he was 14, when his father was stationed in Norfolk. He received a B.S. degree in leisure studies and services from ODU in 1982 after switching from business and physical education programs. As a part of his major requirements in leisure studies, he did an internship with the Downtown Norfolk YMCA in 1981 and remained with the organization ever since.

Lee began his professional career with the YMCA as program director for the Mt. Trashmore YMCA, and from there served as fitness director of the Downtown Norfolk YMCA, later to become the executive director of the Suffolk Family YMCA, and then to his current position in charge of managing the Blocker Norfolk Family YMCA and supervising the executive directors at the Suffolk, Effingham (Portsmouth), Taylor Bend (Western Branch) and J.L. Camp (Franklin) Family YMCAs.

Lee is a strong advocate of the Y efforts to strengthen the foundations of community by promoting youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.

He has many fond memories of the time he spent at ODU, which includes meeting his wife of 28 years, Rose Riggs Lee, who was a manager on the Lady Monarchs basketball team when they won the national championships in 1979 and 1980. He enjoyed taking courses taught by Mel Williams, who was an inspiration to him. Lee says that he is very thankful for the role ODU played in helping him find a career with the YMCA.

Alfred Roberts (Ph.D. '09)

Alfred Roberts is provost of the John H. Daniel Campus of Southside Virginia Community College.

Born and raised in Greensville County, Va., he received a B.A. in communication arts from Michigan State University and an M.Ed. in educational media from Virginia State University. He was a member of the second cohort in the ODU doctoral program in community college leadership, and received his Ph.D. in 2009. His dissertation is titled "Institutional Factors Supporting the Enrollment and Persistence of African-American Males in Virginia Community Colleges."

Roberts joined Southside Virginia Community College in 1995 as a student development counselor. In 1998, he started a successful program designed to increase the number of African American male students attending Southside Virginia community College and to improve the retention and graduation rates for African American males.

While receiving several promotions within the administration at SVCC, he has been able to maintain and expand his interest in African American male recruitment and retention programs.

Lisa Waldbaum '95 (M.S.Ed. '97)

Lisa Waldbaum is an assistant principal at Sycolin Creek Elementary School in Leesburg, Va. (bio information was unavailable).