Leading Innovation: A Discussion about the Future of Education

A highlight of Powhatan’s 75th Anniversary year, President Emerita of Harvard University and Powhatan alumna Dr. Drew Gilpin Faust ‘60 spent a full day with our students and community, culminating with an education symposium organized by Powhatan: Leading Innovation: A Discussion On the Future of Education. In addition to Dr. Faust, prominent community educators and administrators including Dr. Tracy Fitzsimmons, President of Shenandoah University; Evan Robb ‘80, Head of Upper School at Powhatan; and Dr. Jason Van Heukelum, Superintendent of Winchester Public Schools, discussed a variety of educational challenges and opportunities that face our communities. The event, held in celebration of community educators, was hosted by Head of School Jay Briar, and the panel was facilitated by Donald Gilpin ‘64, retired educator. Among several topics discussed were the need for continued innovation in education, the impact of artificial intelligence on teaching and learning, and community and school engagement.
“The inspiration for this event was really borne out of a desire to celebrate all educators in our extended community for their tireless efforts to inspire and guide our youth. Having such an esteemed panel who represent a variety of educational backgrounds and perspectives ensured a very robust and interesting discussion.”
— Former Powhatan Parent, Associate Trustee, and 75th Anniversary Chair Amy Sluss

Dr. Drew Gilpin Faust ’60
President Emerita of Harvard University

Drew Gilpin Faust is President Emerita of Harvard University and the Arthur Kingsley Porter University Research Professor.

Faust previously served as founding dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (2001-2007). Before coming to Radcliffe, she was the Annenberg Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania.

She is the author of six books, including most recently This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War (2008), which chronicles the impact of the Civil War’s enormous death toll on the lives of nineteenth-century Americans. It was awarded the 2009 Bancroft Prize, the New-York Historical Society’s 2009 American History Book Prize, and was recognized by The New York Times as one of the “Ten Best Books of 2008.” This Republic of Suffering is the basis for a 2012 Emmy-nominated episode of the PBS American Experience documentaries titled Death and the Civil War, directed by Ric Burns. She is a contributing writer at The Atlantic. Her newest book, Necessary Trouble: Growing Up at Midcentury, a history/memoir of the 1950s and 60s, will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in August 2023.

Faust’s honors include awards in 1982 and 1996 for distinguished teaching at the University of Pennsylvania. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1994, the Society of American Historians in 1993, and the American Philosophical Society in 2004. In September of 2018 she was awarded the John W. Kluge Prize for Achievement in the Study of Humanity by the Library of Congress. She received her bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr in 1968, magna cum laude with honors in history, and master’s (1971) and doctoral (1975) degrees in American civilization from the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Tracy Fitzsimmons
President, Shenandoah University

Tracy Fitzsimmons, Ph.D., became Shenandoah University’s 16th president on July 1, 2008. She is the institution’s first female president since its founding in 1875. She came to Shenandoah in 2001, as dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, became vice president for Academic Affairs in 2002 and was named senior vice president in 2006. She holds a faculty appointment as professor of political science and still teaches a course each year. Previously, Dr. Fitzsimmons was a tenured faculty member and faculty leader at the University of Redlands in Redlands, Calif.

As president of Shenandoah University, she leads an institution of 4,100 students, and 900 faculty and staff at its 129-acre site in Winchester, Va., and sites in Loudoun, Fairfax, and Clarke Counties, Va. She has twice been featured in Virginia Business’ Virginia 500 Power List; and in 2022 in Virginia Business she was one of 42 executives to receive the Women in Leadership Award.

Fitzsimmons serves on the board of directors of the publicly-traded company Shentel (Shenandoah Telecommunications, Inc.) where she is the Lead Independent Director and the Chair of the Nominating & Governance Committee. She also serves on the Region 8 Go Virginia board. Fitzsimmons is Past-President of the ODAC Conference and Past-Chair of the Council of Independent Colleges in VA. As past President, she remains very involved at NAICU (the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities). She also serves on the board of the Loudoun Education Foundation and Opportunities Scholars; she is a member of the International Women’s Forum of DC, and 100 Women Strong of Loudoun County. Currently, she is the Presidential Sponsor of the VA Women’s Network.

Her undergraduate degree in politics is from Princeton University, magna cum laude, and her master’s and doctoral degrees are from Stanford University in, respectively, Latin American studies and political science.

She lives in Winchester, Va., with her husband, Knox Singleton, eighteen-year-old daughter, Shayla, and sixteen-year-old twin sons, Dash and Jag.

Evan Robb ’80
Educational Leader, Head of Upper School, TEDx Speaker

Evan Robb is a principal, author and sought after speaker. Prior to being a school principal, he was an English teacher, department chair, Assistant Principal, and currently serves as the Head of Upper School at Powhatan School. Evan is a recipient of the Horace Mann Educator of the Year Award. In addition, the NCTE Commission on Reading selected him to serve on its national board.

A TEDx Speaker, Evan offers inspirational keynotes, workshops, webinars, and ongoing professional learning opportunities on leadership, mindset, culture, impactful change, and how to improve literacy in schools. Evan has shared his ideas with thousands of educators at dozens of workshops across the United States and in other countries.

His first book titled, The Principal’s Leadership Sourcebook: Practices, Tools, and Strategies for Building a Thriving School Community was published by Scholastic in the fall of 2007. His next book, The Ten-Minute Principal, was published by Corwin in May 2019. Evan and Laura Robb collaborated with Dave Burgess Publishing to write Team Makers, which was published in August of 2019. In addition, Evan partnered with Laura Robb to write, A School Full of Readers, with Benchmark Education, which was published in January 2020. Evan’s newest book with Corwin, Aiming High: Leadership Actions to Increase Learning Gains, was published in February 2022.

Evan has been named one of the top 25 educational leaders to follow on Twitter. Scholastic EDU named Evan one of the 10 educators to follow on Twitter. Evan was also named one of the 10 most inspiring global thought leaders for 2020.

Dr. Jason Van Heukelum
Superintendent, Winchester Public Schools

Born in Michigan, raised in Rochester, New York, Dr. Jason Van Heukelum has worked in the field of education for 25 years, including three years as the Director of an International School in La Paz, Bolivia. His experience includes serving as a math teacher, coach, high school assistant principal, middle school principal, and deputy superintendent – all in North Carolina. Dr. Van Heukelum believes that great schools use a combination of high expectations and high community engagement to maximize student potential in a nurturing and caring environment.

Dr. Van Heukelum led his first school to be a most improved school in the state of North Carolina and was named the Middle School Principal of the Year for the Iredell-Statesville Schools. Additionally, the teacher effectiveness rating for the Cabarrus County School district was #1 in the Charlotte region and top 15 in the state of North Carolina for three straight years under his leadership as the Deputy Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction.

Over the last fifteen years, Dr. Van Heukelum has secured over $20 million in grants for innovative ideas that meet the emerging needs of our future society. This includes education programs like Multi-tiered Systems of Support, International Baccalaureate programs, Spanish and Mandarin immersion programs, STEM programs, computer science immersion, high school career academies, and new teacher career pathways.

Currently, Dr. Van Heukelum is dedicated to the implementation of the Winchester Public Schools’ Strategic Plan – Empower 2025. Combining his experience from the classroom, school and division level, Dr. Van Heukelum is actively leading the Winchester Public Schools to embrace the pride and tradition of Winchester along with innovative thinking for the future.

Dr. Van Heukelum earned a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics from Cedarville University in Ohio, a Master of School Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Doctor of Education from Vanderbilt University.