Alumni Spotlight


Karen Berty Freedman

Karen Berty Freedman is a 1971 graduate of George Washington High School. After graduation, she received a secondary education in Speech Pathology and Audiology. She is now retired from Kanawha County Schools.

When asked about her accomplishments, Karen said “I have been married for forty years. I have one daughter and two grandchildren. I provided speech therapy services to the students of Kanawha County Schools for twenty-five years, and I loved every minute!

When asked how KCS prepared her for life after graduation, Karen said “I had an opportunity to provide speech therapy services to some GWHS students during my time at KCS. One day I ran into a former teacher, Mr. Ed Neely in the library. We fondly remembered each other. It was quite a moment for me now an adult doing an adult job, running into a former teacher in the same school. Going to high school enables you to go to college.

Karen also has some advice for current students, “Respect yourself, your parents, your friends, your teachers, and people you don’t even know. Every person in high school is doing their job right now. That is what you are to do. Your life comes in segments and this time prepares you for the next phase in your life. In addition, parental involvement in crucial.”

She finished by saying, “I just attended my 50th class reunion from GWHS. It was awesome. It was quite a large turnout. And to me it showed how we all treasured our time together back in 1971 to come out fifty years later.”


Brady Campbell

Brady Campbell is a 2003 graduate of George Washington High School. After graduating from GWHS, he received several degrees and certifications including a B.S. in Wood Science and a M.S. in Industrial Management from West Virginia University. He is also a Juris Doctor, Certified Insurance Counselor, and Commercial Lines Coverage Specialist.  Brady currently works as a sales executive and serves as a city councilman for the City of Charleston.

When asked about his professional accomplishments, Brady said “I am a Charleston City Councilman for Ward 19, a federal criminal defense attorney and member of the CJA (criminal justice act) Panel for the Southern District of West Virginia, a licensed Property & Casualty commercial insurance agent recognized who is nationally recognized as a Commercial Lines Coverage Specialist (CLCS) and Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC).”

He continued, “I serve as vice president of the board for the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association and as a board member for the West Virginia Trucking Association. I'm a past Mental Hygiene Commissioner for Kanawha County and a past recipient of the Guardian Angel award in recognition of my Guardian ad Litem work and representation of children throughout court proceedings in Kanawha County Family Court. I'm a former WVU Mountaineer Mascot (2006-2008) and was recognized as the Outstanding Senior in my undergraduate program and as the Outstanding Senior in the WVU Division of Forestry my final year of undergrad at WVU.”

When asked how KCS prepared him for life after graduation, Brady said “Attending George Washington High School prepared me for college and life by giving me freedom with the modular schedule while setting high expectations for self-governance and hard work. I found that on day one at college I was adapted to the schedule, freedom, and long-term class expectations. Being prepared and having the study skills at the onset of my college career allowed me to excel.”

He continued, “Upon graduation, I took those skills with me and applied them to my profession. Without the support and dedication of my teachers in junior high and high school, would not be where I am today. My teachers offered words of wisdom, taught efficient study skills, always had supportive critiques, and were available as impartial mentors and guides.”

Brady also has some advice for current students, “Think of school as an opportunity and as a job. First, not everyone in this world can attend school and those who can attend school often don’t have nearly the resources that our schools offer. This opportunity to learn is being offered to you and if you don’t accept the offer, you're giving away something valuable you'll have for your entire life. Second, I look at school as a job where society is willing to foot the bill and only asks that each child participates, works hard, and tries to get something positive out of the experience. Just because it's a job doesn't mean it can’t be fun too!

He continued, “Good attendance in school is a learned lifestyle. It shows resilience and reliability. Having the resolve to regularly attend school is both a skill and lifestyle that will lead to rewards and success for beyond high school graduation. Getting into the rhythm of regularly attending school early in life will make doing so easier later in life. As a young person it is difficult to understand how valuable the opportunity for education truly is both for the student, but also to society. Having an educated populace lends itself to more technological innovations, a better understanding of the world around us, and expands analytical thinking skills.”


Katelyn Campbell

Katelyn Campbell is a 2013 graduate of George Washington High School. After graduating from GWHS, she received an AB in American Studies from Wellesley College and a MA in American Studies from UNC Chapel Hill. Katelyn is currently a PhD in American Studies candidate at UNC Chapel Hill.

When asked about her professional accomplishments, Katelyn said “In 2016 I received the Harry S. Truman Scholarship representing the state of WV. In my Truman application, I wrote extensively about how my experience as an activist in high school informed my pathway to public service and commitment to feminist work in my home state.”

When asked how KCS prepared her for life after graduation, Katelyn said “My public school education in Kanawha County has taken me many places and prepared me well for the work I do now while pursuing my PhD in American Studies at UNC Chapel Hill. Jennifer White was my second grade teacher at Elk Elementary Center and was one of the first adults other than my parents to really take an interest in me and encourage my voracious appetite for reading. While I was in her class, she went above and beyond to enrich my learning, helping me learn up through fifth grade spelling words and assigning me supplemental projects that were some of my first experiences doing historical research. She also encouraged me to build supportive relationships with my peers, pairing me with another student in our class who needed a little extra help with reading assignments, who I ended up staying paired with for the rest of elementary school.”

She continued, “I’m a teacher now working with undergraduate students, and the lessons I learned in her class inform a lot of how I work now. As a pretty shy elementary schooler, I appreciated that she noticed me and worked to make me feel included. Looking back as an adult, I’m also very glad that she found ways to help bring me out of my shell while being helpful to others.”

Katelyn also has some advice for current students, “When I was in high school, I was certain I wanted to major in chemistry in college - at one point I was enrolled in three science classes and calculus in one semester. My career has been wildly different than what I planned for, in part because of interests in politics and history that I developed while I was a student at GW. Don’t be afraid to explore your options and cultivate passions for multiple things - there are lessons I learned about organization and precision in Greg Dodd’s chemistry class that I still use all the time as a teacher and historian.



Brandi Estep

Brandi Estep is a 2017 graduate of George Washington High School. After graduating from GWHS, she received a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education K-6 from WV State University. Brandi currently works for KCS as a teacher at Dunbar Intermediate School.

When asked about her professional accomplishments, Brandi said “I graduated college in fall 2020 from WVSU with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. I was lucky enough to take a job this year at the same school I did my co-teaching and was placed in the classroom beside my mentor. I’m thankful to have met some great people there and am now continuing my education through Marshall. I will receive a master’s degree in elementary education with a specialization in math in the fall of 2022.”

When asked about how KCS prepared her for life after graduation, Brandi said “Since elementary school I have always wanted to work with children. I look back at my schooling and realize how many teachers touched my heart and left an impression on me. I have learned so many great lessons from them and hope to make that same impression now.”

She continued, “I had two high school teachers that really helped guide me, even if they don’t know it. Joseph Gibson and Azareen Mullins always had their door open for me. If I needed somewhere to go, I knew I could count on them. Mrs. Mullins pushed me to take honors and college classes and I will forever be thankful. They both always had a job for me, and I would like to think it gave me a taste of what being a teacher is like. Running a copy machine, stapling, and sorting papers, and grading a multiple-choice quiz are just a few of the things I would help them do. Now, as a teacher, I realize how important the little things are and I let my students help if they ask.”

Brandi also has some advice for current students, “Take as many general education college classes as you can in high school. It is one of the best opportunities to be offered and at a very reasonable price. I was able to graduate a semester early in my bachelor’s degree program because of this.”


Emily Hammond

Emily Hammond is a 2011 graduate of George Washington High School. After graduating from GWHS, she received a BA in English and Music from WV Wesleyan College and a Masters in the Art of Teaching from Marshall University.  Emily currently works as the Assistant Director of Communications and Outreach for the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.

When asked about her professional accomplishments, Emily said “I just started a new job at WVHEPC helping high schools, higher ed institutions, students and educators learn about the importance of higher education and how to make college possible. I’m currently expecting my first child. I’m excited to live in the South Hills community and bring my child up in the same community and schools I grew up in. I’ve dedicated my professional career to serving West Virginia, promoting education, commerce, and the arts. I returned to my hometown after graduation because my community and my state is important to me, and I want to make a difference.”

When asked how KCS prepared her for life after graduation, Emily said “George Washington prepared me for the vigor of classes I would go on to experience in undergrad and grad school. My favorite teacher in at GW was Steve Shamblin. Mr. Shamblin along with the rest of the ELA team at GW instilled a love of writing and literature in me. That love led me to pursue a degree in English. Mr. Shamblin stays connected with me through social media. He remains a mentor and a friend. He had supported me every step of the way and I’m so grateful for his support.”

She added, “Additionally, the late Mr. Brian O’Connell was a huge influence on me. He took me on my first trip to Europe with the Holocaust history class. That class and that trip fundamentally changed me as a person. It had a great impact on me. It made me an advocate for social justice and well as gave me a thirst for travel and knowledge. When I went on to college, I was awarded a scholarship to attend the Salzburg Global Seminar, an international seminar and think tank that tackles international issues and encourages global citizenship. The seminar has been attended by world leaders such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Hillary Clinton. During my interview for that scholarship, I mentioned what I learned from Mr. O’Connell while at GW and the importance of being involved in global issues. I firmly believe that the lessons he taught me helped me earn a scholarship to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Emily also has some advice for current students, “Enjoy your time while in high school. Know that you don’t need to have it all figured out. Work hard, be kind and learn as much as you can, and everything will work out. Always pursue what you love and stand up for what you believe in. Also know that your favorite teachers now will have an impact on the rest of your life, so appreciate them! They are invested in you, and they are there to support you. Don’t take that for granted.”

She continued, “If you want to learn and do well in school, you have to be there. You may not love every subject—I was horrible at math—but tough it out. There are worse things. You will never be able to get that time in the classroom back. You never know what learning you’ll miss out on that could have an impact on you your life down the line. In the grand scheme of life, you aren’t in school for very long. While at the time, it may seem mundane or boring, you’ll want that time back when you get older. Trust me, it gets harder. But it doesn’t have to be that hard if you don’t take your education for granted. Go to school, learn, pursue post-secondary education and it will make your life so much easier. You won’t regret it.”

Emily finished by saying, “I’m still figuring my life out. I didn’t know what I wanted to do after high school. I didn’t know what I wanted to do after undergrad. I pursued a graduate degree in teaching, but I’m not a teacher. You never know where life will take you. I’m successful and happy I’m my career, even though it did not go as planned. Don’t be discouraged when your plan falls through or when your life turns in a different direction. If you work hard, you’ll end up exactly where you need to be.”


Robert Marcum

Robert Marcum is a 2016 graduate of George Washington High School. He is currently working toward a degree in History Education. He serves as the membership director for College Democrats at WV State University and served as a senator for SGA.

When asked his favorite KCS teacher, Robert said “My favorite teacher was Brian O’Connell.”

Robert also has some advice for current students, “Be yourself! Be patient about your future! Good attendance shows that you are a committed student.”



Stephanie Mellace

Stephanie Mellace is a 1977 graduate of George Washington High School. After graduating from GWHS, she received a BA in Education from Davis and Elkins College and a MA in Special Education from Marshall Graduate College. Stephanie currently works as a Special Education Teacher for Kanawha County Schools.

When asked how KCS prepared her for life after graduation, Stephanie said “I believe everyone can learn regardless of any disability. Please respect those who have a disability, learn to talk with them. Get to know them.

She continued, “I remember what Mrs. Triplett taught in science class at John Adams and I saw her as an adult and thanked her.”

Stephanie also has some advice for current students, “Learn all your life. Attend school every day and you will learn to get along with others.”


Anne Moses

Anne Moses is a 2005 graduate of George Washington High School. After graduating from GWHS, she received a Bachelor of Science in Speech Pathology and Audiology from West Virginia University and a Master of Arts in Preschool Special Needs from Marshall University. Anne currently works as the Preschool Director for First Presbyterian Church in Charleston.

When asked about her professional accomplishments, Anne said “I am married to fellow GW graduate, Michael Moses, and we live in Charleston with our three sons, ages 7, 5, and 2. I began my professional career teaching preschool in Kanawha County Schools at Mary Ingles Elementary and am now the Director of First Presbyterian Church Preschool.”

When asked about how KCS prepared her for life after graduation, Anne said “George Washington High School prepared me for my college experience and professional career by offering complex scheduling and a variety of course options. Being responsible was a requirement as a GW student with the various daily schedules and the responsibility of obtaining off-campus privileges. Courses were offered at different levels of difficulty and provided opportunities to get acquainted with valuable college courses. It definitely wasn’t a ‘walk in the park’ to earn honorable grades and I felt I was always challenged, which allowed me to continue to learn and grow.”

Anne also has some advice for current students, “The best advice I would give to current students is to focus on and discover the ability to recognize your strengths and weaknesses. Build on your strengths while identifying your place in the workplace and life after high school. All professions have a purpose, and none should be more valued than others.”

She continued, “Being consistent with your attendance in school gives you accountability and prepares you for the “real world” of being responsible. It also gives you the confidence to succeed and reduces the anxiety of failing.”


Candice Pauley

Candice Pauley is a 2007 graduate of George Washington High School. After graduating from GWHS, she received a BSW, MSW and LGSW. Candice currently works as a School Social Worker for Kanawha County Schools.

When asked about her professional accomplishments, Candice said “I was a recipient of the Promise Scholarship, then completed graduate school as a graduate research assistant with a scholarly article publication.”

When asked about how KCS prepared her for life after graduation, Candice said “KCS prepared me for life after graduation by instilling hard work, responsibility and a strong work ethic.”

Candice also has some advice for current students, “Life is tough, but so are you. Don’t take short cuts and if you want it, work for it.”


Leigh Poindexter

Leigh Poindexter is a 2011 graduate of George Washington High School. After graduating from GWHS, she received a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and master’s degree in Elementary Math. Leigh currently works as a 5th grade teacher for Kanawha County Schools.

When asked about her professional accomplishments, Leigh said “I am a 5th grade team leader, county teacher leader and Faculty Senate President.

When asked about her favorite KCS teacher, Leigh said “I love and appreciate Mrs. Kackie Eller. She pushed me to think past high school and never stopped showing how much she cared and loved us even after graduation.”

Leigh also has some advice for current students, “Remember there is lots of life after high school. Push yourself now and work hard so that the next step won't be such a shock.” She continued, “A student's job is to be in school. When students attend school. they are rewarded with love, support, knowledge and other important tools they will need to be successful.”


Jon Simpkins

Jon Simpkins is a 2008 graduate of George Washington High School. After graduating from GWHS, he entered the workforce as a surface coal miner (Black Hat). Jon currently works as a sales professional for Cintas.

When asked about his professional accomplishments, Jon said “After high school, I worked on a coal mine for four years before being hired by Cintas as a route driver. I did that for five years until I was promoted three years ago. My next move is to be hired into management.”

When asked about a favorite KCS teacher, Jon said “Without Mrs. Eller I would not have graduated high school. I had some family issues in my late teens, and she really helped me get back on track and earn my degree.”

Jon also has some advice for current students, “If college isn’t right for you, there are other options! I have no student loan debt. Find a trade or company and work your way up.”

He continued, “My attendance in high school was abysmal. I failed in school because of it. In my career, I rarely miss work unscheduled. Attendance and punctuality are huge in the workforce.”


Abby Wentz

Abby Wentz is a 2020 graduate of George Washington High School. Since graduating from GWHS, she has been attending Nursing School at Fairmont State University and is currently in pursuit of her degree.

When asked about her professional accomplishments, Abby said “I am currently working towards my RN at Fairmont State University, which is the #1 nursing school in the state!”

When asked about how KCS prepared her for life after graduation, Abby said “George Washington High School prepared me for the real world in many ways. One area that most students may not get to experience as much as GW students is independence! I was taught to make decisions on my own and care for myself while there were people there to catch me if I fell.”

She continued, “One teacher that sticks out the most in my day-to-day life now as a college student is Coach Edwards. He is a gym teacher, drivers ed teacher, and the head football coach at GW! He taught me so many life lessons and gave me so much wisdom that a book could’ve never taught me!”

Abby also has some advice for current students, “Be yourself! Never change to “fit in” or for someone to like you.”


Sierra Worden

Sierra Worden is a 2021 graduate of George Washington High School. She is currently attending West Virginia University, where she is a Journalism major with a double minor in fashion merchandising and strategic social media.

When asked about her professional accomplishments, Sierra said “I am a part of many different organizations at WVU. These organizations are Her Campus, Mirage Magazine, and NABJ (National Association of Black Journalist). Since I started college in the fall of 2021, I have had two articles published. One of them is in a magazine, and the other is on the Her Campus website. I am also on the advisory committee for the Reed College of Media. I hold two executive positions at NABJ, which are Secretary and Social Media Coordinator. During my first semester of college, I was able to be on the Dean’s List.”

When asked how KCS prepared her for life after graduation, Sierra said “The classes that are available at GW were very impactful in furthering my education. I was able to take so many dual credit classes, that I am classified as a sophomore with only have completed one semester in college.”

Sierra also has some advice for current students, “I think that is important that you take your education seriously. You also need to take advantage of every opportunity that you get. It doesn’t matter how big or small they might be, they can really make all the difference in the long run.”

She continued, “It is important that you have good attendance during school. Being present, not only physically but mentally, in class every day is key to getting a good education. The things you truly learn during school will stick with you forever!”


Twylla Worstell Bays

Twylla Worstell Bays is a 1980 graduate of George Washington High School. After graduation, she worked as a certified phlebotomist for five years. She married her high school sweetheart, Cameron Bays, and had three girls. After having children, she became a stay-at-home mom. Tywlla now has three grandsons and one granddaughter. She also serves as a caretaker for her daughter.

When asked how KCS prepared her for life after graduation, Twylla said “School taught me how to be nice to people with disabilities.”

Twylla also has some advice for current students, “Get a good education. Be kind and get as much knowledge as you can. Always learn more. You have to be in school as much as you can so you won’t miss that special class. When you get a job, the boss won’t put up with you missing much.”