Alumni of Distinction Awardees for 2017

The 12th annual Springfield City Schools Alumni of Distinction Award program is scheduled for April 21 at 6:30 p.m. in the Joseph C. Shouvlin Center, 737 N. Fountain Ave., on the Wittenberg University campus in Springfield.

Alumni to be honored are Robert L. Ater, Springfield High School Class of 1953; Robert O. Bronston, Springfield High School Class of 1951; Judge Cassandra Collier-Williams, South High School Class of 1975; Dr. Angela L. Emmons Brule, South High School Class of 1975; Jayson Todd Gee, South High School Class of 1984; Retired Navy Capt. Giles R. Norrington, Springfield High School Class of 1953; Dan G. Switzer, North High School Class of 1965 (posthumous) and James E. Valentine, Springfield High School Class of 1955.

A special program is planned on Friday, April 21, during morning school hours to acquaint high school students with these outstanding alumni and their accomplishments. The student program will be followed by a special luncheon for the honorees at the Art Center in Veterans (Cliff ) Park. The Friday events and dinner activities are being carried out by the Alumni of Distinction Award Steering Committee.

These activities are provided through contributions from local businesses and individuals. The Alumni of Distinction Award program was established in 2005 by the Springfield Board of Education to recognize former students who have distinguished themselves through exemplary professional success and/or community service. The Steering Committee includes Chairman James W. Bacon, Richard A. Umbaugh, Wendy G. Ford, Marianne L. Nave, W. Eugene Barnett, Jr., Wanda J. Truss, Jeannine Fox, Bonnie L. Longo, Lisa S. Odafe, Brian Nott and Springfield City School District Superintendent Robert F. Hill.

Robert L. Ater

While working as a principal in New York State, he took a one year leave to earn a doctorate at Syracuse University. Bob has served in positions from assistant principal, to head master, to chief administrator in schools all over the world, establishing a reputation from Brussels, Belgium as a headmaster; then Vienna as chief school administrator; and on to Nairobi, Kenya; BuenosAires;Copenhagen, Denmark and Dusseldorf, Germany. Robert L. Ater, a graduate of Springfield High School in the Class of 1953, attended Wittenberg University following his high school graduation, but chose to join the U.S.Air Force in January, 1955. Receiving his first taste of teaching as a drill instructor for new recruits, Bob returned to Wittenberg where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in English in 1962. He taught in Philadelphia, while earning a Masters degree in school administration. Thinking of retiring in 1999, Bob returned to Columbus and became involved in a nonprofit for homeless men and women, ending up as a manager of an overflow shelter in 2002. At present, Bob is working part-time in a charter school in suburban Columbus; serving on two non-profit boards for the homeless; volunteering for a poor and homeless program at his church and he works part-time in a drop out recovery school.

Robert O. Bronston

Robert O. Bronston, a graduate of Springfield High School in the Class of 1951, was honored with a football scholarship at Miami received a BS in Education in 1955. Bob earned a Master’s in Education Administration in 1974 at Wright State University. University, Oxford, Ohio, where he He excelled in sports and earned “All Ohio” honors in football and was a member of the 1950 SHS state basketball championship team.

Bob taught and coached at SHS and South High School from 1955 to 1972. He served as the Dean of Students at North High School from 1972 until his retirement in 1985. As a community volunteer, Bob was on the Springfield Metropolitan Housing Authority Board of Directors; the United Way and served as the City Golf Advisory Committee chairman.

Other volunteer work with the Jeff Wyler Care is for Kids Committee to benefit the Juvenile Court and Monte Zinn golf tournaments to raise awareness about Breast Cancer have kept Bob busy during his retirement years.

Cassandra Collier-Williams

Cassandra Collier-Williams, a graduate from Springfield South High School in the Class of 1975, received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Miami University. She moved to Cleveland where she graduated from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Cassandra worked in a law firm for ten years before opening her own firm in 1999, where she employed three lawyers and a support staff.

Since 2013, Judge Cassandra has served the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, General Division. She oversees the largest civil disputes and the most serious criminal allegations in Cuyahoga County on a daily basis and is licensed to practice law in numerous courts in Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin, plus the Ohio Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of the U.S.

Active in her community, Judge Cassandra Collier-Williams is a member of numerous organizations and committees, plus the recipient of many awards. She is known as a speaker at various community events, a mentor of young scholars and especially for her support work with Churches and non-profit organizations.

Angela L. Emmons Brul

Angela L. Emmons Brul, a graduate of Springfield South High School in the Class of 1975, attended Howard University and obtained her under-graduate degree in Zoology. She continued her studies at the Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University in Dayton and completed her internship and residency in record time. After graduating from Medical School, Angela moved to Washington, D.C. and accepted a position as Health Care Advisor of the Executive Office of the President at the White House.

Dr. Brul has continued her work at various national government agencies including the Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office; the U.S. Tax Court; Department of Agriculture; Fort Belvoir, Ford Meade and the DeWitt Army Hospital. When Angela is not at work at Howard University Hospital, she travels extensively throughout the U.S., providing emergency care at several facilities.

Angela is an active member of many professional groups and community organizations and has received numerous awards for her achievements as a physician in both Internal Medicine and Emergency Medicine.

Jayson Todd Gee

Jayson Todd Gee, a graduate of South High School in the Class of 1984, was an All Ohio basketball star and led the Wildcats to the Ohio AAA state poll championship in 1984. He received a Bachelor’s degree in Education at Charleston, West Virginia, where he was inducted into their college sports hall of fame in 2000. Jayson finished his Master’s degree in Sports Administration at Ohio University in 2003.

Having held coaching positions at Youngstown State University, Ohio University, Cleveland State University, St. Bonaventure and Charleston University in West Virginia, he is currently the head coach at Longwood University in Virginia. In 2015, Jayson was honored as the and presented the Jon Lotz Barnabas Award for his outstanding leadership in college basketball.

Recognized as a fantastic speaker and teacher, Jayson is sought after for speaking at engagements and conventions. He is an expert at rebuilding teams, building relationships with staff and players and known for building bridges and encouraging his community. His many honors and awards show Jayson is a great leader, high in integrity and character.

Captain Giles R. Norrington, US Navy, (ret)

Giles R. Norrington graduated from Springfield High School in the Class of 1953 and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1954. He completed basic training; infantry training; was nominated to the Marine Officer’s Candidate School and was commissioned Second Lieutenant in June 1958. Giles was selected for Flight Training and earned his Pilot Wings in 1960, flew light attack aircraft and became an Advance Jet Training Flight Instructor.

In 1965, Giles transferred to the U.S. Navy and was deployed as a Reconnaissance/Attack Pilot. On his twenty-second combat mission over North Vietnam, in May 1968, his aircraft was shot down and he was captured. He spent nearly five years as a Prisoner of War in Hanoi, in extremely harsh conditions, but was freed and was one of the last POWs to arrive home on March 14, 1973 during Operation Homecoming.

Giles returned to active Navy status taking on a number of important assignments before retiring in 1988 as the Director of the Total Force Training and Education Division in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations at the Pentagon. His retirement life has included an active involvement in the Salvation Army, American Red Cross, Rotary International, TACT, United Way and other non-profits and service organizations. His honors, awards and citations are numerous in both military and civilian life!

Dan G. Switzer

Dan G. Switzer, a graduate of North High School in the Class of 1965, is recognized as an outstanding businessman, community volunteer and philanthropist who was always willing to help in any way he could. Dan attended both Wittenberg and Kent State Universities, and was known for his strong commitment to helping community youth.

He loved sports, was an avid bowler, played football, baseball, softball and golf, plus he coached. Dan and his wife owned the Putt-Putt Golf Course and Dairy Queen on Bechtle Avenue. He was the co-founder of the Springfield Select Soccer Club and organized and ran the Great Lakes Putting Tour. Dan coached and chaperoned many Junior Putters Association teams at national competitions.

Dan was involved in many local charities, was past president of the Springfield Jaycees and awarded lifetime membership in the Jaycee International Senate, served on the Board of Directors of Putt-Putt Golf Courses of America and a volunteer for Dayton Children’s Medical Center. Dan passed away February 1, 2015.

James E. Valentine

James E. Valentine, a graduate of Springfield High School in the Class of 1955, is a lifetime resident of Springfield. He joined the Navy after graduating and was deployed in the European theatre, pursuing his interest in drafting and engineering.

Following his military commitment, Jim started working at Kelsey Hayes and then went to International Harvester for ten years. He then formed the Ohio Pressed Steel Company with four other business owners and managed the metal stampings and fabrications company for the truck and automotive industry. He also started Experimental and Special Production, Inc., specializing in low volume special order steel fabrications.

In 1972, Jim and Charles Crabill started Ohio Warehousing, the main steel warehouse for IH. The company name was later changed to Valco Logistics to provide dedicated logistics services with distribution to other large OEMs including Ford, GM, Dana, Bendix and Honeywell. Valco had offices in six locations in five states; the men formed other support companies and are still involved in Imperial Express Inc. of Springfield. As part of his philanthropy, Jim supports many Springfield community projects.