Growing up in a small rural community in southwest Virginia Rebecca Stevenson didn’t dream big. Later in college, around students who had been exposed to more opportunities, she admits she lacked confidence.
But today, Dr. Rebecca Stevenson Lowry is at the pinnacle of a highly successful, influential career as an educator, and she attributes that life transformation to Bluefield College and the caring, nurturing professors who wouldn’t settle for anything less than her full potential.
Dr. Lowry grew up in Grundy, Virginia, before making her way, reluctantly, to Bluefield College.
“Coming from a very small town I found that other students from places like Richmond and Washington had more opportunities to travel and to really experience the world more than I did,” she said about her early days as a BC student. “So, my confidence really needed a boost, and I found that at Bluefield College.”
She said she remembers well the advice, encouragement and personal attention from professors like Dr. Gerald Clay and Dr. Primitivo Delgado who increased her confidence level and challenged her to reach her full potential.
She said she also remembers developing “a world view” or “global perspective” through her relationships with students from all around the world. Most of all, she said she learned from Bluefield College faculty and staff that “determination coupled with hard work could get you almost anywhere you wanted to go.”
“You learned quickly to ask for assistance, and a professor would show you how to exert your efforts in a different direction to achieve your goals,” she said. “In other words, never did you go unnoticed. You had every possible opportunity to be successful.”
And succeed she did. After earning a bachelor’s degree in music education from Bluefield College in 1977, Dr. Lowry went on to earn a master’s degree and an educational specialist degree in school psychology from Radford University, as well as a Ph.D. in counseling and student personnel services from Virginia Tech.
She also embarked on a career in education that now spans more than 30 years and includes positions as a school psychologist for Botetourt (VA) County Public Schools; school psychologist, student services coordinator, and supervisor of guidance for Bedford (VA) County Public Schools; director of guidance, and associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction for Dayton (OH) Public Schools; executive director of secondary and post-secondary education, deputy chief of post-secondary education, and chief academic officer for the Cleveland (OH) Municipal School District; and assistant superintendent for the Chichester (PA) School District.
“My interests began with studies in music education at Bluefield College,” said Dr. Lowry about what started her 30-year education career, “where I received tremendous encouragement and individualized attention from all my professors and the administration there.”
Dr. Lowry is licensed to teach, counsel or administer by the Ohio Department of Education, Virginia Department of Education, Pennsylvania Department of Education, Delaware Department of Education, New Jersey Department of Education, and Virginia Board of Health.
Her experience in the classroom also includes teaching stints with Wright State University, the University of Dayton, Averett College (1996-1998), Virginia Western Community College, and Dabney-Lancaster Community College. But, it’s her most recent appointment she claims as the culmination of her career. In January 2011, Dr. Lowry was named to the highest education administration position for a public school system as superintendent of Westmoreland (VA) County Schools.
“(This) represents the culmination of my educational goals,” said Dr. Lowry. “Having the opportunity to serve as superintendent gives me the chance to influence decisions that prioritize the educational aspirations of students and their families.”
Dr. Lowry will begin her new duties in July of this year at which time she will begin to oversee the instruction, curriculum, testing, assessment, regulation and other administrative roles involved in educating 1,700 students at one high school, one middle school and two elementary schools — all the while pursuing her goals with the intent of transforming students’ lives as Bluefield College transformed hers.
“Bluefield College gave me the drive and initiative to never stop learning,” said Dr. Lowry. “The inspiring relationships with fellow students and professors opened my eyes to all the opportunities for service in the field of education.”
“I hope to be able to give back some of what others gave me. I hope to create increased access to educational opportunities that perhaps students have not experienced before. Most importantly, I hope to be able to create a limitless vision for students so they know that any achievement they set their minds to can be accomplished.”