Dr. Lachelle Waller felt it was important to take time to give back to the community that helped shape her into the person she is today. As she walked the halls of Thomas Dale High earlier this week, she couldn’t help but think about the teacher who changed her life.
“My ninth grade science teacher, Jackie McDonnough, challenged me to recognize where my strengths were,” the 1997 Thomas Dale High graduate recalled.
As she entered a ninth-grade classroom at her alma mater, a small group of African-American female students were waiting expectantly with their upperclassmen mentors. Dr. Waller was introduced and immediately joined the girls in a circle of chairs. She spoke candidly about her family life growing up, her struggles in school, and her successes in life.
As a woman who is action-oriented and motivated to be a positive change-maker in her community, Dr. Waller encouraged the Girls for a Change participants to find their passions and continue to lift up one another. Before she left, she challenged the students to always be proud of who they are, where they come from, and what they are doing.
Dr. Waller is one of six Chesterfield County Public Schools graduates who were honored Thursday at the 2019 Bravo! Awards sponsored by the Chesterfield Education Foundation. Other outstanding alumni recognized during the annual gala held at the DoubleTree by Hilton included: Dr. Jane Baskerville (G.W. Carver High), Capt. Brett Mietus, Dr. Siegfried Othmer, Randy Rowlett and Dr. Carolyn Rudd.
“We appreciate how the Chesterfield Education Foundation honors and celebrates the successes of our school division’s outstanding alumni,” Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty said. “These graduates have made a profound impact in our community and on the national stage, and we are appreciative that the Foundation is taking time to recognize their positive contributions.”
Since 2009, the Chesterfield Education Foundation has recognized professional and community achievements of outstanding Chesterfield County Public Schools alumni. During the past nine years, recipients have ranged from professional athletes, musicians, and doctors to entrepreneurs and business leaders who have made an exceptional impact on their professions and community.
Dr. Waller and other Bravo! Award recipients are visiting their alma maters this week, meeting with students to share experiences and tips for making a difference in the world.
“The varied contributions of our Bravo! Award winners are indicative of Chesterfield County Public Schools’ ability to prepare graduates for success after graduation,” School Board Chair Rob Thompson said. “In addition to this being a testament to the high quality of education our students receive while attending Chesterfield County Public Schools, the positive contributions made by these award winners also show a high return on investment that our residents receive for the funds that support public education.”
Recipients honored at the 2019 Bravo! Awards were:
Retired, Instructional Specialist for World Languages and English as a Second Language
G.W. Carver High School (Carver College and Career Academy), Class of 1961
Dr. Baskerville was instrumental in Chesterfield County Public Schools’ world language offerings for 30 years. She was first hired to teach at Manchester High School in 1970, the first year that Chesterfield County faculties were integrated. She later became department chair at Manchester High before rising to Instructional Specialist for Foreign Languages and Specialist for English as a Second Language for the entire school division. An avid historian, Dr. Baskerville is recognized for her knowledge regarding the role of African American citizens in Chesterfield County over the past 100+ years.
Executive Assistant to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, U.S. Navy
L.C. Bird High School, Class of 1988
Capt. Mietus graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and continued his studies at the Naval War College, where he received an M.A. in National Security and Strategic Studies. In 2014, he completed Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) Phase II as part of Seminar 13 and is an alumnus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Seminar XXI. Capt. Mietus has been awarded the Legion of Merit, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal (three times), the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal (four times), the Navy Achievement Medal (twice) and various unit and campaign awards.
Chief Scientist, EEG Institute
Manchester High School, Class of 1957
Dr. Othmer is engaged in the technical development and the practice of neurofeedback, a physiologically based program of brain training. Since 1985, Dr. Othmer has dedicated his career to EEG neurofeedback having been drawn to the field through the epilepsy of his first-born son, Brian. In 2002 the Brian Othmer Foundation was established in memory of Brian in hopes to help parents in similar situations. Dr. Othmer is a noted speaker and author of several books and articles on EEG neurofeedback.
Attorney and Managing Partner, Gordon, Dodson, Gordon & Rowlett
Matoaca High School, Class of 1980
Mr. Rowlett began his professional career teaching and coaching football at Matoaca and Meadowbrook high schools. In 1993, he received his Juris Doctorate degree from The College of William & Mary and began his legal career as an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney in Chesterfield County. In 1998, Mr. Rowlett left the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office to enter private practice with Gordon, Dodson, Gordon & Rowlett, where he practices criminal and personal injury law.
Founder, President & CEO, CRP, Incorporated
G.W. Carver High School (Carver College and Career Academy), Class of 1968
Carolyn Rudd is the founder, president and chief executive officer of CRP Inc., a multifaceted professional services and management consulting firm established in 1988. Dr. Rudd received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Virginia State University and her doctorate degree in higher education with a minor in business from The College of William & Mary, where she is believed to be the youngest African-American to receive a doctorate from the institution. Dr. Rudd has served on several non-profit boards and actively supports a nationally endowed scholarship at Virginia Union University.
Director of Undergraduate Advising and Research & Assistant Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University
Thomas Dale High School, Class of 1997
Dr. LaChelle Waller is an Assistant Professor and Director of Undergraduate Advising and Research in the Department of Chemistry at Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. Waller is the first African-American, male or female, to have received a PhD. in Genetics Bioinformatics and Computational Biology from Virginia Tech. She is also the founder and Executive Director of TRAK’D, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) comprehension for at-risk youth (PreK-5th grade) and parents in underserved communities.
About the Chesterfield Public Education Foundation
The Chesterfield Education Foundation provides private support for the public schools of Chesterfield County through classroom grants, scholarships, teaching awards, project start-up funds as well as through the expertise and knowledge of professionals in the community. MCD Awards, MEGA Mentors, and Chesterfield STAR are among the Foundation’s partner programs that serve the students and teachers of Chesterfield County Public Schools. The Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization incorporated in 1989. For more information, visit www.cefva.org.