Terry Arbogast joins Smart Beginnings NRV Board of Directors

Terry Arbogast Terry E. Arbogast, II has served as Superintendent for Giles County Public Schools since August of 2004. Prior to this, he served as the Deputy Superintendent for the school system, as well as Principal and Assistant Principal at NHS. He began his career as a Math teacher in Fauquier County before coming to Giles County. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech, a Master’s degree from George Mason University, and his Ed.D. from Virginia Tech. He is excited about the opportunity to work with the members on the Smart Beginnings NRV Board of Directors and is eager to learn more about how the school system can work with local agencies to continue to strengthen the early education of our young students.


2016 AmeriCorp Member John Dworin

John Dworin I'm originally from the DC suburbs and have called Blacksburg home for the last 3 years. After I graduated from college with a degree in International Relations I decided to participate in a full-time AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) program on the West coast which was the most transformative experience of my life. It led me to see the value in service and enjoy the company of others with a similar ethos. Since then, I taught middle school for 5 years, served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Honduras and lived in Mexico City as an exchange teacher. I chose to volunteer with AmeriCorps again because I wanted a path to connect with other local volunteers and get involved with what I see as the most important social justice issue facing young people today, early childhood literacy. In my spare time I play soccer, go fishing and enjoy all things outdoors.


2016 AmeriCorp Member Savannah White

Savannah White I’m currently a senior at Virginia Tech majoring in Psychology and minoring in English. Growing up near areas of poverty stricken neighborhoods in Charlottesville Virginia, I was able to see how a little bit of service for those in need goes a long way. Being able to join the Smart Beginnings and VT Engage as an AmeriCorps member allows me to continue my journey of interactive, local service combined with my love for children. I’m so excited that I get to be involved in ensuring that children in the area are getting the literacy attention that is essential to their growth. I hope to help make a positive difference in the community and to assist children in fueling their love for reading and learning all together!


2016 AmeriCorp Member Laura Montgomery

Laura Montgomery I am currently a senior Political Science major here at Tech. I'm originally from a small town in Maryland, La Plata. Over the last three years, I have come to consider Blacksburg my home. As the daughter of a fifth grade teacher, education and literacy are two things I hold so close to my heart. I hope while working that while working with Smart Beginnings I can share my love of reading with those around me. In my spare time, I enjoy watching the Hokies play, going on long walks with my dog, Maybelle, and reading!


2016 AmeriCorp Member Leo Priddy

Leo Priddy After working with Camp Roanoke this last Summer, I’m expanding my experience assisting both children and the community. A senior in Communication Studies, I joined Smart Beginnings to help prepare children their future education. Creating a strong foundation, rooted in literacy, is essential in establishing a lifetime of learning. Working with local day-care programs, I cannot wait to see how each child gains a love for reading. My goal is to explore how I can further my experience with Smart Beginnings as I pursue a career in social service. I look forward to providing support for this wonderful community.


Prenatal Substance Abuse in the New River Valley - Fact Sheet

Assessing the Problem

The Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance (VTIPG) and community partners have received a CAPE II grant to develop an early warning system for prenatal substance abuse and NAS in the NRV. The project team is working closely with the regional Departments of Health, Community Services, Social Services, the NRV Regional Commission, and local medical providers to identify data and other resources to inform strategies for the strengthening of a continuum of care to reduce the incidence of prenatal substance abuse and NAS. While we are still pursuing additional data, initial statistics on substance abuse rates for women of childbearing age help identify priority areas of focus.

Next Steps

We have an opportunity to engage with our NRV community physicians and medical professionals, starting with the CAPE II project team providing updates on data indicators and ongoing efforts in our region and state to address substance abuse and its impact on children and families. We want to support your practice’s efforts and receive input from physicians on their experiences with prenatal substance abuse cases in the NRV and generate ideas how to more fully address the problem. As a first step, we hope to gain a better understanding of current screening practices and the strengths and gaps in referral networks and prevention efforts. We propose creating a collaborative workgroup to build upon these findings to develop appropriate early referral methods and treatment resources for the NRV.  For additional information, contact

Mary Beth Dunkenberger, M.B.A.
Senior Program Director, VTIPG

Full Fact Sheet:prenatal_sa_in_the_new_river_valley_provider_info_sheet_9_14_15_pdf.pdf



Virginia Quality Professional Development calendar released for 2015-2016

Smart Beginnings NRV has released its professional development calendar for 2015-16.  It includes a rich array of professional development opportunities for early eaducators in the region.  There will be a Director's Learning Community, multi-session study groups, evening workshops, full-day confernces and more.  We also work hard to bring in additional trainings from outside providers.  Contact Kim Thomoson at kimbe74@vt.edu to be added to the email list for registration announcements.


Laura Guilliams joins Smart Beginnings NRV Board of Directors

Laura Guilliams is Executive Director of NRV CARES.  A crisis intervention professional for more than ten years, Laura is Executive Director of NRV CARES where she works with an incredible staff to provide child advocacy, resources, education, and services to children and families across the New River Valley. Additionally, Laura serves on the Board of Directors for Smart Beginnings NRV, the DePaul Community Resources Community Advisory Board, the Western Region Child Fatality Review Team, and the Giles County-Pulaski County Community Policy Management Team.

Laura earned her B.S. in Communication from Radford University in 2001 where she first developed her interest in non-profit agencies and higher education. Upon graduation, Laura went on to develop skills in public relations, marketing, donor development, and non-profit program administration as well as human development and crisis intervention.

Shortly after entering the workforce, Laura received her M.A. in Educational Leadership from the University of Central Florida in 2004 where she further expanded on her experience in human development, specifically with college students and teenagers. After graduation, Laura continued working with college students in several higher education institutions before entering the non-profit sector as an advocate for sexual and domestic violence victims and victims of child abuse. Prior to her current role with NRV CARES, Laura worked with hundreds of children as a child forensic interviewer and multidisciplinary team (MDT) facilitator for the NRV.

Laura has developed several training programs delivered to thousands of students, community members, and allied professionals throughout the NRV and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Laura is a veteran public speaker and facilitator and continues to share her passion for ending child abuse in our communities through community education, advocacy, and prevention programming.

As a member of the board for Smart Beginnings NRV, Laura works with local agencies, businesses, government leaders, and programs to foster a community dedicated to protecting children and strengthening families through early childhood intervention and education.

2016 AmeriCorp Member Taylor Wills

Taylor Wills I am a senior with a dual degree in human resource management and marketing and a minor in history. I love working with the Smart Beginnings program, because I am extremely passionate about improving child literacy in the New River Valley, and ultimately empowering the youth. I am so excited and honored to be a part of this program and cannot wait to see it grow and develop over the course of the year. In the past I have worked and mentored children in other capacities, including, coaching youth soccer, tutoring, and working with a child care center.


2016 AmeriCorp Member Rachel Morgante-Richmeier

Rachel As a public school teacher I have seen the impact of early literacy programs have had on students. This is a great venue to broaden my experience and learn hands-on early literacy activities as well as working with the younger aged population. I think National Service also mirrors Ut Proism that is an essential component to being a VT alum. I'm looking forward to gaining many new relationships and new knowledge in the area of education.