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CEHS Hall of Fame: 2007 Inductees

Susan Brown Hardesty


Susan Hardesty received her bachelor’s degree in 1967 in music education from the College of Creative Arts at West Virginia University and her master’s degree in special education in 1974 from the University of West Virginia College of Graduate Studies in Institute, West Virginia.

For 16 years, Hardesty taught music and special education. An avid community volunteer, she involved herself in a variety of activities, including directing her church choir and helping to organize the first Keynotes Concert, featuring the Mountaineer Marching Band, in Charleston. In 1988, she was instrumental in founding a Read Aloud West Virginia program in Jackson County. To her credit, as news of the program’s success spread, Read Aloud programs expanded to every county in West Virginia.

Hardesty was a charter member and has served as chair of the College of Creative Arts Board of Visitors. She also is the past chairperson of the Council of Presidents’ and Chancellors’ Spouses for the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. In 2001 and 2004, she was included in The Dominion Post’s list of the area’s 100 Most Influential Citizens, and the WVU Office of Student Affairs honored her with their first Outstanding Achievement Award. She served as chair of the 2004 and 2005 WVU United Way Campaigns.

One of her most rewarding efforts has been chairing the Mountaineer Parents Club. She and her husband, WVU President Emeritus David C. Hardesty Jr., formed this unique organization in 1995 to foster student success and to better involve parents in University life. Since its beginning with a handful of members, the Mountaineer Parents Club has proudly grown to include more than 18,500 families in its membership, some 70 local clubs, and a network of state chairs from coast to coast. Among its many helpful activities are the Mountaineer Parents Club Helpline, a parent E-News, informative newsletters, and support for summer send-off picnics for WVU students and their families.

For her extraordinary efforts on behalf of her alma mater, the West Virginia Society of Washington, D.C., named Hardesty its Daughter of the Year for 1997.

Melanie A. Kerber


Melanie Kerber received her bachelor’s degree in 1974 in elementary education from Edinboro University in Pennsylvania, and her master’s degree in 1979 and her doctoral degree in 1991 in special education from WVU.

Dr. Kerber began her career after graduation in 1974, teaching students with severe learning and behavioral difficulties in Monongalia County, West Virginia, and Highland School, Bethel Park, Pennsylvania. As she gained experience in this field, Dr. Kerber became a diagnostic specialist and educational consultant delivering diagnostic and academic services. In 1981, she was a doctoral fellow at the Kennedy Center in Morgantown, and, in 1982, she accepted a position as an assistant professor of early childhood and special education at Allegheny College in Maryland.

Dr. Kerber’s talent, education, and expertise quickly propelled her into a leadership position, and, in 1987, she became the Director of Springwood School in Leesburg, Virginia. In this position, she had the opportunity to hone her administrative skills while also working with a team of clinicians developing treatment plans for adolescents and their families. Her work was recognized, and she was asked to start an inpatient treatment facility for children known as the Children’s Center.

Dr. Kerber’s reputation as an educator, administrator, and advocate for diverse learners resulted in her selection as director of the Commonwealth Academy in Falls Church, Virginia, in 1998. She was responsible for curriculum development, hiring and training, budget oversight, student recruitment, fundraising, licensing, event planning, and referral development. Under her direction, the Academy is now recognized as a fully accredited college preparatory program in Washington, D.C. Currently, Dr. Kerber is principal of Sto-Rox High School located in Pennsylvania. She and her husband, Frank Kerber, have one son, Brandon.

Joanna Strosnider Nesselroad


Joanna Nesselroad received her bachelor’s degree in 1946 in home economics, her master’s degree in 1955 in home economics, and her doctoral degree in 1978 in education, all from West Virginia University. She also studied at the University of Tennessee, Penn State University, and New York University, and at Britain Infant Schools and Paget Applied Research Institute, both in London.

Nesselroad developed one of the nation’s first Head Start programs in McDowell County, the heart of West Virginia’s southern coalfields. As director of the training program there, she trained both teachers and administrators, and the principles she established then remain in place today. Dr. Nesselroad is recognized as a state pioneer in early childhood education, a reputation that led to her Head Start appointment. She has taught that subject and home economics at WVU, Fairmont State University, Murray State University, and Penn State University. Before that, she was a public school teacher in Monongalia and Hampshire Counties in West Virginia.

At Fairmont State, where she retired in 1984, she created the school’s associate and bachelor’s degree programs in child care and development. Retired or not, she has kept busy over the past two decades advising preschool programs, the state’s Visiting Homemakers Service, and West Virginia Home Economics Education Program.

Dr. Nesselroad’s research and teachings have long been recognized as the national standard for educators. Her professional biography has appeared in the Who’s Who of American Women, and Who’s Who Biographical Record – Child Development Professionals The educator divides her time in West Virginia and Florida with her husband, Dr. Paul Nesselroad. They have a son, Mark, a daughter, Karina, and four grandchildren.