Teacher Advisory Council | Virginia Museum of History & Culture
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Teacher Advisory Council

Meet our 2020 - 2021 Teacher Advisory Council!


Whitney Beck

Whitney Beck


Whitney Beck is a Nationally Board Certified Teacher who currently teaches 3rd grade at Maybeury Elementary in Henrico County Public Schools.  Originally from Hanover County, she attended James Madison University and will be graduating from Averett University with her Masters Degree in Administration and Supervision in December of 2020.  Along with incorporating respectful discourse into her classroom, she is passionate about using primary sources to spark wonder and create authentic learning experiences for elementary students. 

Suzanne Buhner

Suzanne is a teacher, facilitator, researcher, and edtech-nerd. She is a national board certified teacher and currently teaches fourth grade at John B. Dey Elementary in Virginia Beach City Public Schools. Her teaching philosophy follows the quote: "There are two lasting bequests {as teachers} we can give our children, one is roots and the other is wings" (by H. Carter). Her teaching includes discovery learning, question-seeking, and a global perspective, along with habits of mind and a growth mindset in the classroom and beyond.

Kisha Christian

Kisha is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Sociology and a Masters in Teaching. She is a licensed Elementary Teacher in Richmond Public Schools since 2000. Currently, she teaches 3rd grade at Oak Grove Bellemeade Elementary School. She is a part of the VCU Clinical Faculty Level I, works with the RPS History department as an Instructional Lead for her school, and is a member of the National Council of History Education. Outside of school she is active at her church and leads Junior Girl Scouts. Personally she is a financial member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated. She has been married for 15 years and has 2 children!

Chris Jones

Chris Jones currently works at West Potomac High School in Fairfax County and uses 7-12 social studies education to maximize readability of the US Constitution. Mr. Jones was also the founding social studies teacher of a STEM secondary school. In addition to teaching, Mr. Jones leads tours of the Society of the Cincinnati's Washington, DC headquarters as a Museum Docent Fellow.

Carrie Lillard

Carrie is a fourth-grade teacher in Rockingham County in her eighth year of teaching. She graduated with her Bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in 2012 and with a Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction in 2013, both from Virginia Tech. She recently served as a judge for Virginia's Virtual History Day in April 2020 and loved getting to see the depth of knowledge students had to share through their projects. When she's not figuring out ways to incorporate "Hamilton: An American Musical" in her classroom, you can find her reading, baking, cheering on the Hokies in Lane Stadium, and loving on her nieces and nephews, both canine and human.

LaShanda Melendez

LaShanda is a Virginia native and graduated from Christopher Newport University with a degree in history. She has taught for 18 years, including third-grade gifted students in Newport News Public Schools, middle school science at a private school in Newport News, and second and fourth grades in Richmond Public Schools. She currently teaches fourth grade in Henrico County Public Schools. In addition to holding an endorsement in PreK-6 elementary education, LaShanda holds endorsements in English as a Second Language PreK-12 and Gifted Education PreK-12. LaShanda serves as the Social Studies Core Content Teacher for Ward Elementary and participated in the Weinstein Properties Story of Virginia Teachers Institute at the VHMC in 2019.

Nancy Pierpont

Nancy Pierpont is a veteran educator who works to find new and engaging ways to connect the curriculum to her students' experiences. She has taught at Fairfield Middle School in Henrico County for the past eighteen years and has served as department chair for the past eleven years.  She is currently a social studies professional development facilitator for the VCU School of Education's Urban Educator Collaborative initiative and previously served as a mentor teacher in the Service Learning Practicum program through VCU, as well as acting as a curriculum writer for Henrico and working with VDOE on various social studies committees. In addition to her school, district, and state commitments and service, Nancy is also Girl Scout leader & service unit volunteer.

Kara Sandoval

Kara Sandoval has been teaching 9th-12th grade art history at St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School (Alexandria, VA) for the last 17 years. She loves that art history allows her students to explore history through a visual lens. Ms. Sandoval also serves as the advisor to her school’s yearbook staff and is one of the coaches of their It’s Academic team. In addition, Ms. Sandoval has a passion for museum education and interned at both the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and Woodrow Wilson’s Birthplace during her time in college, and she is thrilled to be a part of the Teacher Advisory Council. In her free time, Ms. Sandoval enjoys reading, watching Netflix, and spending time with her husband, two sons, and dog Mocha. 

Christina Saunders

Christina Saunders is excited to be a part of the Teacher Advisory Council for the 2020-2021 school year! After graduating from Lynchburg College, she moved back to her hometown of Richmond and became a K-5 special education teacher for Richmond Public Schools at Chimborazo Elementary School. She currently serves as the Instructional Compliance Coordinator at Chimborazo Elementary, as well as still teaching Virginia Studies to 4th graders.

Rhonda Shannon

Rhonda D. Shannon is an Exceptional Education teacher in the Richmond City Public Schools System where she currently teaches 4th Grade. She is a native of Goochland County, Virginia where she still resides. Rhonda earned both her B.S. and M.S. degrees at Virginia State University. She is an advocate that all children can learn given the proper materials and education. Ms. Shannon teaches and implements positive choices, and critical developmental skills to her students while providing a nurturing environment to them daily.  Rhonda serves faithfully in her community through her church, the Second Union Baptist Church in Goochland County.  She is a proud member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Delta Omega Chapter, and she is a member of the Order of Eastern Star, Prince Hall Affiliated, Poinsettia Chapter #222. Her hobbies include arts and crafts, shopping, and a new-found interest in gardening.

Kathryn Smith

Kathryn has taught public high school students a mixture of United States History, Psychology, and Economics for the last 8 years. She recently moved to Richmond with my husband and schnauzer-poodle puppy dog. They love exploring the many historical sites and delicious food the city has to offer. Virginia has a rich, diverse history that students can analyze for truly meaningful learning experiences. Kathryn works to empower her students to critically examine the world around them and make connections from history to their life, present communities, and future endeavors.

Gregory Stallings

Gregory has been teaching for 40 years in all elementary grade levels – during that time he has acted as a member of the Virginia Council for Social Studies Board, a Teacher of the Year for Richmond Public Schools, and a curriculum writer. He appreciates that Richmond, and The VMHC, are embracing cultural change and a holistic approach to teaching history. The Story of Virginia should always strive to be inclusive, so that no matter who a student is, they see themselves in the history they learn.

Sabra Willhite

Sabra has a combined 40 years of elementary school experience in both the Virginia public & independent schools teaching all grade levels K- 5. She is also a charter member of the VMHC Teacher Advisory Council. In addition to serving on the Henrico County Public Schools committee to develop the initial Social Studies SOLs, she also chaired the Lower School Social Studies Curriculum Committee for the Steward School. Sabra believes museums are vital to the understanding of history and continue to be a dynamic part of the elementary learning process both inside and outside the classroom.

Ashley Windle

Ashley Windle is entering her sixth year as a Social Studies teacher at Glen Allen High School in Henrico County, where she teaches World History II and AP U.S. History. She is a career switcher who practiced law for five years prior to becoming a teacher, and she is much happier and more fulfilled in the classroom instead of the courtroom! She has a B.A. from Marshall University and a J.D. from the University of Richmond. In her free time, Ashley loves eating out with her husband Rob and playing outside with her two-year-old daughter Molly.

Elisabeth Wray

Wray is a freelance editor and writer who has published two social studies textbooks. She has taught classes in American women’s history; Southern women’s history; regional and local history including old South, new South, American West, Virginia, and Richmond; early and federal America including Age of Jefferson; the U.S. Constitution; European women’s history; Victorian England; Western civilization; and interdisciplinary courses in history and art. She has researched American women’s history, especially Southern and 19th-century history and during times of war; Constitutional history; Virginia history; and American history, Colonial period through 1890.




Teacher Advisory Council FAQ

What is the Virginia Museum of History & Culture Teacher Advisory Council?

The VMHC Teacher Advisory Council works in partnership with the education team to make sure that the VMHC is best serving the needs of a diverse and inclusive range of teachers, students, and families. 

What are the responsibilities of teachers on the Advisory Council?

Members of the VMHC Teacher Advisory Council serve as positive ambassadors for The Virginia Museum of History & Culture education events (ex: teacher open houses, HistoryConnects distance learning, student field trips, professional development opportunities) and the institution as a whole. The council meets quarterly to discuss and provide input on educational initiatives and resources, as well as provide help planning and implementing our annual Weinstein Properties Summer Teachers Institutes. 

Teachers can serve for a maximum of two years simultaneously, in order to open space for new applicants. Teachers can leave after just one year, or reapply for another term after they have been off of the council for one year. 

What are the benefits for teachers on the Advisory Council?

Teachers on the Advisory Council will receive a free membership to the VMHC, as well as a free HistoryConnects program that they can use or gift to another teacher. Additionally, the council is a great way to build direct connections to the VMHC team for customized research or resource development. 

Who is eligible for the VMHC Teacher Advisory Council?

The Teacher Advisory Council is open to all Virginia private and public school teachers & administrators, including preschool or college teachers/administrators. Preference will be given to teachers whose areas of instruction overlap in some way with the resources we are able to provide within our collection. Currently, the council is not open to homeschool educators. 

The council is open to teachers across Virginia. Though logistics might be easier for teachers located in the Greater Richmond area, we recognize that there are many individuals located across the Commonwealth that are doing great things - and we want to hear from them! However, we would ask that you be able to make at least one quarterly meeting in-person and participate actively in remote meetings and email discussions with input and feedback. 

What is the timeline for the Advisory Council?

In order to help you plan your schedule, our proposed timeline for the 2020-2021 (August 2020 - July 2021) Teacher Advisory Council is as follows:

  • Applications Due: July 12th 
  • Notifications Sent: July 31st
  • August/September - First Meeting
  • November/December - Second Meeting
  • February/March - Third Meeting
  • May/June - Fourth Meeting
  • July - Weinstein Properties Teacher Institutes 

If you have any questions, please contact our Manager of Museum Programs, Maggie Creech, at mcreech@virginiahistory.org or our Manager of Digital Learning, Hailey Fenner, at hfenner@virginiahistory.org



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