Ruthanne Duffy. Courtesy of P&H Community College.

Here’s a round-up of education briefs from around Southwest and Southside. There’s no full-time education reporter west of Richmond. You can help change that. Help us fund an education reporter.

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Patrick & Henry hires assistant athletic director

Patrick & Henry Community College has hired Ruthanne Duffy as the assistant athletic director of Operations and Senior Women’s Administrator.

Duffy has led the Ferrum College Volleyball (NCAA DIII) program as the head volleyball coach since 2015 and was the assistant coach from 2012-2015. While at Ferrum, Duffy served as an advisor to the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, served on numerous hiring committees, and was a game day administrator when not performing her primary coaching duties. As a coach, Duffy was responsible for planning, administering, and evaluating the overall operations of the volleyball program. She also oversaw recruitment and evaluated the academic achievement of student-athletes.

In addition to coaching at Ferrum College, Duffy also managed and operated a local collegiate wooden bat baseball team, the Martinsville Mustangs, a member of the Coastal Plain League. Duffy was named the assistant general manager in 2018 before being promoted to general manager of the Mustangs for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. With the Mustangs, Duffy was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the team including corporate and sponsorship sales, ticket sales, hiring and management of staff, overseeing player recruitment, contracts, and roster maintenance, securing host families for athletes, as well as organizational relations and promoting a positive image in the community.

A graduate of the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, Duffy played volleyball and received a degree in physical education with a concentration in sports management in 2010. During her time as a student-athlete at UVA-Wise, the volleyball program won the Region XII championship and competed in the NAIA National Tournament in 2007. In the fall of 2021, she completed her M.S. in Sport Administration from Arkansas State University.

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Callie Hietala. Courtesy of Martinsville Public Schools.

Martinsville schools name new communications and community outreach coordinator

Martinsville City Public Schools has tapped Callie Hietala to serve as the
organization’s new communications and community outreach coordinator. Hietala previously worked as a reporter for The Enterprise, writing primarily for The Henry County Enterprise.

A native of Southwest Virginia, Hietala also worked at the William King Museum of Art in Abingdon, where she held a number of titles over the years, including outreach instructor, curator, interim director of education, and community programs manager and digital marketing coordinator.

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African American literature course at NRCC offered this fall

New River Community College is offering a new English course in African American literature this fall. 

African American Literature (ENG 258) explores the stories African American authors tell about themselves, their communities,\ and the world. Students will also examine common and diverging themes within African American literary traditions through the study of diverse authors, genres, and literary movements from a variety of time periods. Course content emphasizes interpretive and critical analysis skills developed through close reading and consideration of historical and cultural contexts. ENG 258 is a transferable course. 

The class will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30-10:50 a.m. in person at NRCC’s campus in Dublin, with the first day of class on Aug. 23.  Susan Lazear, assistant professor of English at NRCC, will be teaching the 14-week course.  

Lazear earned her bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in African American women’s literature. She also holds master’s degrees in English and education. Lazear has taught English full time at NRCC since 2017.

Current NRCC students may register for classes online by visiting their student accounts. New students or those who may need additional support to register can reach out to an advisor by emailing or calling 540-674-3609.

Prospective NRCC students may visit for enrollment information. The class schedule is available at

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Chili cookoff at Mountain Gateway CC on Sept. 24

A chili cookoff and cornhole tournament will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Sept. 24 on the Clifton Forge campus of Mountain Gateway Community College (formerly Dabney S. Lancaster Community College). The dual community event, hosted by the MGCC Educational Foundation, will not only benefit MGCC students but also will honor two area police officers who were killed.

Proceeds from the chili cookoff, aptly named “Great Bowls of Fire,” will benefit MGCC students by providing financial assistance to student activity clubs, athletic programs, as well as student success initiatives expenses, according to Vicki Pickle, MGCC scholarship and development coordinator.

Proceeds from the cornhole tournament will go to the family of Officer Caleb Ogilvie and to the Jay Patterson Memorial Scholarship. Ogilvie was an officer with the Covington Police Department, and Patterson was a retired assistant chief with the Buena Vista Police Department.

The admission fee of $20 covers three chili tastings, a nonalcoholic beverage, watching the cornhole tournament and listening to the performance. Performers include Bruce Allen, Jason Burk and Donnie Higgins.

The entry fee to participate in the chili cookoff is $50. First place prize is $500; second and third places prizes are $250 and $100, respectively

The entry fee for each two-person team to compete in the cornhole tournament is $50. Registration starts at noon, with the first match at 1 p.m. The championship match is at 4 p.m. First place wins $500; second, $250; and third, $100.

For more information, to register in advance or to inquire about a sponsorship, which includes perks such as tickets to the beer garden and chili cookoff, or a corporate logo display, contact Pickle at 540-863-2835 or