Laurel Ridge computer science professor recognized with state award

For Immediate Release:
June 19, 2018

Primary Media Contact:
Sally Voth
Public Relations Specialist
[email protected]
Phone: 540-868-7134

melissa stange award

Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni presented Laurel Ridge Computer Science Professor Melissa Stange with a Creating Excellence Award last week in Richmond.

Dr. Stange and the college’s computer science program received the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) Post-Secondary Career and Technical Education Program Award.

It was one of three VCCS Post-Secondary CTE State Awards and 16 awards in total given by the VCCS and the Virginia Department of Education honoring exemplary CTE programs and partnerships around the state. melissa stange award

“As a division superintendent, I saw firsthand the value of K-12 partnerships with community colleges and local employers,” Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane says. “The combined efforts help maximize the potential of every learner and provide transformative educational opportunities with companies that provide real-world experiences for students.”

Laurel Ridge’s associate of science degree with a computer science specialization is a new program. Its third year recently wrapped up, while the computer science career studies certificate program has just completed its first year. There are 150 students currently enrolled in the degree program, and 62 in the certificate course.

Dr. Stange was nominated by Laurel Ridge Dean of Academic, Student Affairs and Outreach Brenda Byard.

“This is an annual recognition of innovation in career and technical education at the secondary and post-secondary level,” Dean Byard says. “They recognize community partnerships. Melissa was doing so many things with middle school students and high school female students.”

Initiatives Dr. Stange is involved in include the Worlds of Work! career expo, a two-day career exploration fair for seventh-graders managed by the Laurel Ridge Career Pathways Consortium – which includes the CTE directors from area school divisions – in partnership with area businesses and organizations; a high school STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) day at Laurel Ridge; and presentations about women in STEM fields she has given at area schools.

Additionally, she has worked with middle schools and high schools in Frederick County to start after-school coding clubs, and has coordinated technology internships with area corporations, such as Valley Health, Shentel and Navy Federal Credit Union.

Dr. Stange recently graduated from the FBI Citizens Academy, which she pursued so she could better understand what the bureau is looking for in student interns. She has also been successful in obtaining various grants to further her efforts both at Laurel Ridge and with the local school divisions.

“It’s kind of overwhelming,” Dr. Stange says of her state recognition. “It’s awesome. And, it’s really the students’ award. They have been so wonderful, volunteering and going with me on various initiatives and sharing their advice. They give me suggestions on how to make our computer science program even better.”

She has been at Laurel Ridge since 2004, and earned an associate of applied science degree in data processing from Chattahoochee Valley Community College, a bachelor of science degree in computer information systems from Shenandoah University, a master of science degree in computer science from Nova Southeastern University, a master of business administration degree from Averett University and a doctoral degree in applied management and decision sciences from Walden University.


Founded in 1970, Laurel Ridge Community College is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With three locations — Middletown, Warrenton, and Luray-Page County — the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the city of Winchester. Laurel Ridge offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs offered on site by a four-year institution. Laurel Ridge also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. Laurel Ridge serves more than 9,000 unduplicated credit students and more than 11,000 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.

Laurel Ridge Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate degrees. Laurel Ridge Community College also may offer credentials such as certificates and diplomas at approved degree levels. Questions about the accreditation of Laurel Ridge Community College may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (

Laurel Ridge Community College is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities. Laurel Ridge shall promote and maintain equal employment and educational opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, marital status, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions including lactation, age (except when age is a bona fide occupational qualification), status as a veteran, national origin, or other non-merit factors. Laurel Ridge also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment. Inquiries may be directed to the Associate Vice President, Human Resources, [email protected]173 Skirmisher Lane, Middletown, VA 22645, 540-868-7226.

Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.