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Meet the Team

Russell "Rusty" Gray

Tarra Shields

Tarra Shields

I am honored to be the Principal of Virtual Preparatory Academy of WV. We have a wonderful program that supports the learning and creativity of our students. I believe that as educators we have the ability to impact our students in a tremendous way and through positive connections, we can encourage them to reach their full potential. I enjoy watching our students continue to grow and develop into critical thinkers and the future leaders of our society.  

I was born and raised in West Virgina and truly appreciate our culture and people. The comradery that West Virginian’s extend to each other is second to none. There is no greater feeling than traveling outside of the state and hearing Take Me Home Country Roads and watching everyone join and sing along. In my free time, I enjoy spending time outdoors and with my family. We like to boat, kayak, hike and spend time on the ski slopes. 


  • PSM 1: Professional Scrum Master Certification
  • WV Technology Integration Specialist
  • Human Resource Management – Villanova University


  • M.S. Business Cyber Security – WVU
  • M.Ed. Educational Leadership and Administration – Salem University
  • M.A Elementary Education – WVU
  • B.A Elementary Education – WV Wesleyan College

Diana Mitzel

Diana Mitzel

I serve as the Operations Manager for the Virtual Preparatory Academy of West Virginia. I received my bachelor’s degree in human services from Bluefield College. I am currently completing my Master of Education in Student Affairs from Liberty University. I have several years of experience in program and operational management within educational settings. I have served as a youth and young adult leader within my community for over 20 years. I have lived in the Shenandoah Valley neighboring the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia for over 15 years.

Dennis Craig

Dennis Craig

I am the Student Services Coordinator for Virtual Prep Academy of WV. I am a 15-year veteran of teaching, with 12 of those years teaching full-time in an online environment. I am a graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, WV and currently live in Parkersburg, WV with my amazing wife and four children.

Ronda Lawrence

I am both humbled and honored to serve as the Special Education Coordinator at Virtual Preparatory Academy of West Virginia. I obtained my Bachelor’s in Psychology through Peru State College. I graduated from Grand Canyon University with a Master’s in Special Education. I moved to the beautiful state of West Virginia 18 years ago, where my husband of 36 years and I reside in Bluefield. We have two wonderful sons, who have also been drawn to the world of education. I have had over 35 years experienced working with individuals with struggles in life and learning. My desire to serve you and your children runs deep in my heart. VPREP is a family of learning, and all are welcomed here. I look forward to this new journey in your child’s educational career and a wonderful time learning together..

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