From the time Cheryl W. Reames ’90, ’92 was a child, she knew she wanted to be a teacher.
I had a mother who read to me,” said Reames. “She had always wanted to teach kindergarten. She passed her love of learning and reading on to me and I wanted to share that with others.”
Reames earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education in 1990 and a Master of Science in Education in 1992 from Shenandoah. After graduation, she worked as a teacher for Fairfax County Public Schools in Fairfax, Virginia, for 18 years. Reames taught kindergarten, first and second grades, and was also a Title I reading teacher and a school-wide reading specialist. She believes the most rewarding part of her job has been helping young children to read and write and encouraging them to find their love of reading.
Reames believes that Shenandoah prepared her for a successful career by teaching her a variety of appropriate ways to assess and meet the learning needs of various students. “The professors in the education department were current in their own learning and were connected with a variety of schools, so they were able to provide a realistic view of what teachers would likely face in a school situation,” said Reames. “They were also knowledgeable in the licensure process and prepared us for additional qualifications we would be expected to meet after graduating and getting a teaching job.”
Once Reames and her husband, Waverly, had retired, they decided to move back to Winchester in large part because of Shenandoah and all it has to offer to the Winchester community. They are now able to attend concerts, recitals, theatre productions, educational lectures and events like the Children’s Literature Conference.
While she enjoys attending a multitude of events at Shenandoah, Reames still felt there was something missing in her life. “My children are grown, and I have no grandchildren and no classroom of children, so there were no children in my life,” she said. So, Reames became a Big for Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Northwest Virginia.
She takes her Little to a variety of places and events to introduce her to new people, new experiences and new concepts. The place Reames likes to take her Little the most is Shenandoah. “I have taken my Little Sister to a wide range of activities at Shenandoah to help her understand what a university is and encourage her desire to attend college,” said Reames. The two have attended concerts, eaten in the student center, gone to Homecoming, attended several athletic events and attended the Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre productions of “Mary Poppins” and “Pirates of Penzance.” “I want my Little Sister to be familiar enough with the campus and what happens there so that she thinks of Shenandoah not only as my university, but as her university as well,” said Reames.
She not only gives back to the community, but she gives back to the university as well. “I couldn’t have attended college without financial assistance,” said Reames. “Giving to SU takes my love of learning and education to a different level. It helps contribute to scholarships and provides enriched or new programs and opportunities for students.”
Reames also contributes her time to help enrich the learning experience of Shenandoah students. She has participated in physical therapy research studies so students can become more proficient in observing and evaluating a real person performing tasks. In return, this provides students with the skills to determine what therapy or treatments might be necessary for the patient.
A few years ago, Reames recruited people with Parkinson’s disease to serve as practice patients at the university so physical therapists could become certified in Lee Silverman Voice Treatment BIG, a research-based physical therapy program for persons with Parkinson’s.
“I feel it is a duty and a privilege to help train those who may take care of me, my family, friends and others in the future,” said Reames.
The Parkinson’s support group that she also coordinates provides a place where music therapy interns and practicum students can learn to work with Parkinson’s patients in a voice therapy choir. The choir helps them identify the voice problems of people with the disease and to learn how to conduct a neurologic exercise for the movement difficulties Parkinson’s causes. Her music therapy activities have also provided a place for graduate students to do research for their master’s and/or doctoral degrees.