Meet the Faculty

Thomas Brewster

Associate Professor, School of Education


Ed.D., Educational Leadership and Policy, Virginia Tech University, 2000
M.S., Educational Leadership, Radford University, 1995
B.A., Social Studies Education, Bluefield College, 1991


Dr. Thomas Brewster comes to Bluefield College with 25 years of experience in the field of education. Dr. Brewster’s career in public education includes serving as a high school social studies teacher, assistant principal, high school principal, university professor, assessment director, student service coordinator, deputy superintendent, and superintendent of schools.

Dr. Brewster served as the Superintendent of Pulaski County Public Schools from August 2012 -June 2016. During Dr. Brewster’s tenure, Pulaski County Public Schools became one of the most progressive school divisions in the state, creating the New River Valley’s first Governor’s STEM Academy, designing a comprehensive K12 student support system, securing high-powered broadband access throughout the district, and increasing the number of advanced placement, dual enrollment, and workforce training opportunities for all students. His school system was also recognized for the first time as having designated Distinguished Title I and Blue Ribbon schools, and Pulaski County Public Schools was recently honored as Virginia Tiered Systems of Supports (VTSS) “Trailblazer” school division for their innovation and commitment to the success of all their students.

Brewster was honored in 2013 with the Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce’s Business Executive of the Year award, and in the same year received the Bluefield College Alumni of the Year award. Brewster was recently inducted to the Pulaski County Career and Technical Center’s Wall of Honor and the Tazewell High School Hall of Fame.

In 2006, Governor Tim Kaine appointed Dr.Brewster to a term on the Virginia State Board of Education. In 2013, Governor Terry McAuliffe appointed him to the Virginia State Community College Board where he's chaired the Academic, Workforce, and Student Services and Facilities Committees. He recently served as Chair of the Bluefield College Board of Trustees. Brewster also works as the Director of External Affairs for Communities in Schools of Virginia, a dropout prevention organization.

Phyllis Owens

Assistant Professor of Education and English


M.S., English, Radford University, ‘78
B.S., Education (English and Library Science), Concord University, ‘67


Professor Owens joined the Bluefield College family in the fall of 2006 as an instructor in the Division of Education; in 2011, she was promoted to Assistant Professor. Prior to coming to Bluefield College, she had an extensive career in public education where she taught English and writing. Owens earned accolades as county teacher of the year, finalist for WV teacher of the year, WV Language Arts Teacher of the Year and an Ashland Achievement recipient. Additionally, she was published in Adjunct Mentor, Writing for Success, WV English Journal and The Quarterly, a National Writing Project publication. An affiliate with the WV Writing Project, Owens traveled throughout West Virginia as a consultant; she was also the WV director of Project Outreach that allowed her to be a national consultant for teaching writing and professional development. Upon arriving at Bluefield College, Owens began working with Dr. Donna H. Watson to achieve national accreditation for The Teacher Education Program, and she continues to be actively involved in the promotion of the program. Proud of her Appalachian heritage, Owens was involved in Bluefield College’s Symposium in 2012 and continues promoting Celebration of Appalachia. While at Bluefield College, Owens enjoys mentoring student teachers and inspires them saying, “Have high expectation for your students, but have even higher expectations for yourself.”

Jennifer Thorn

Coordinator of Teacher Education Data and Reports

Krista Turner

Assistant Professor of Education

Donna Watson

Professor and Dean, School of Education


Ph.D., Curriculum and Instruction, Virginia Tech University, '05
M.S., Secondary Education, Radford University, '83
B.A., English, Bluefield College, '80, Summa cum Laude


After graduating from Bluefield College in 1980 and teaching in public schools for 16 years, Dr. Watson came back to her alma mater to work as an Adjunct Instructor in Education, delighted to work with her former professor, Dr. Gerald Clay. Upon completing her doctoral degree in 2005, she became full-time faculty; and in the following year, she was named the Chair of the Division of Education upon Dr. Clay’s retirement. In August 2012, she became the Dean of the newly formed School of Education. Dr. Watson’s years of teaching mathematics in middle school in neighboring McDowell County, West Virginia, along with providing professional development for teachers in the region, provided a strong foundation of authentic experience for teaching the education courses. Her dissertation, Learning Mathematics in Central Appalachia: Life Histories of Beginning Elementary Teachers, connected a research base to that rich experience in public school teaching. Dr. Watson’s enthusiasm for teaching is often evident, such as when she dresses like a triangle to read aloud a children’s book, when her students make paper in science methods class, or when she tries out a new recipe to share with the student teachers. Always intrigued by innovative teaching strategies, she models the use of technology tools and hands-on manipulatives for learning. But most of all, Dr. Watson believes that caring is an essential quality for good teaching; she often tells the student teachers at the end of seminar each week, “Now go out to spread goodness and light.”