The Thomas Jefferson High School Hall of Fame will add four alumni to its rolls Friday.
A meet and greet will be held at 8:30 a.m. in the school library, followed by the induction ceremony at 9:30 in the auditorium. The public is welcome to attend.
Virginia Cantrell, Class of 1958
Virginia Putnam Cantrell was born into a family that valued education. Her grandmother was a teacher and principal, her mother taught and her father was on the school board. She was perhaps best known for the many hours she spent accompanying friends on the piano as they performed in plays, musicals and music contests. She also played oboe in the band and was in the National Honor Society. During her senior year, she was class president, homecoming queen and valedictorian. Since graduation, she has remained active with her high school class, helping to plan reunions and other get-togethers.
She attended Graceland University for two years and finished her undergraduate degree at the University of Iowa. She earned a master’s in library science from Western Michigan University in 1967 while working at an elementary school in Oak Park, Illinois. She came home to help her mother with the family business when her father died.
Virginia later got married and raised Danny and Frances Cantrell. She worked part time at the Council Bluffs Public Library before becoming the librarian at Bloomer Elementary School in the early 1970s. She went to University of Nebraska-Omaha during the summers to earn her administrative endorsement. In the ’80s, she returned to Tee Jay, where she helped set up the school’s first computer lab and was an active opponent of censorship. She sponsored the Astra Club and helped several Academic Decathlon teams as an assistant coach. She retired from the district in 2000.
She has continued to be active at the high school by helping to raise money for the bronze Thomas Jefferson statue and serving on the Hall of Fame committee. She has also volunteered time at the monthly CHI Health Mercy Hospital book sales and the Community of Christ Thrift Store and Food Pantry and has served on the Community of Christ Caring Ministries Board. She has also been known as one of the “peanut-brittle ladies” who have made the treat to raise money for a school in Haiti and for other ministries of the church. She has been a member of Phi Delta Kappa and Altrusa International. She remains a proud Yellow Jacket.
Stephen Hardiman, Ed.D., Class of 1969
Stephen (Steve) Hardiman is the first Tee Jay graduate to become its principal. After graduation, he attended Dana College, where he majored in biology and graduated Magna Cum Laude. While at Dana, he was a four-time football letterman, 1973 Outstanding Senior Biology Student and Outstanding Academic Athlete. He received a master’s degree in secondary administration from UNO and a doctoral degree from the joint University of Nebraska-Omaha/Lincoln program.
As a Tee Jay student, he was involved in choir, drama, football and wrestling; a three-year letterman; a member of the National Honor Society, Key Club and Thespians; sports editor for The Signal; and served as the junior class treasurer and senior class president. He was the Symposium moderator, member of the Iowa All-State Chorus and awarded the Marge Smith Hatcher Memorial Award.
Steve held many positions in the Council Bluffs Community School District, teaching at Carter Lake and Thomas Jefferson, serving as assistant principal at Kirn and Tee Jay, district supervisor of Career and Technical Education and principal at Wilson. As an administrator, he received the Council Bluffs Community Schools Excellence Award, Iowa Western Commendation for Outstanding Service to Vocational Education and UNO’s Hollie Bethel Distinguished Alumni Award. His schools were recipients of a First in the Nation in Education-Regional Award and Teacher Expectations and Student Achievement award.
He was a member of Phi Delta Kappa and the National Association of Secondary School Principals. At Harvard University, he served two years as a board member of the International Network of Principals’ Centers. In the community, he served as a member of the Council Bluffs Planning Commission, the Pottawattamie County Soil Commission, Leadership Council Bluffs and the Mid-Day Optimist Club. He was a Pottawattamie County environmental education leader and director of the Council Bluffs Iowa Youth Conservation Corps. He currently teaches at Clarkson College of Nursing in the graduate college.
Ralph (Ed) Kermoade, Class of 1974
Ed was one of the 444 students that graduated in 1974 with the 50th graduating class from Tee Jay. While at Tee Jay, he participated in football and tennis and served for two years as the sports editor for both the Signal newspaper and the Monticello yearbook. He graduated from UNO in 1978 with a bachelor’s degree in social studies and physical education. In 1991, he graduated from Drake University with a master’s in secondary education administration.
“Tee Jay has been a huge part of my life. My sister, Libby; myself; my wife, Cheryl; our three daughters (Kylene and Kelsey) were both homecoming queens; and our oldest grandson all graduated from here, and currently we have a granddaughter here. I even student-taught P.E. and social studies here and, over the years, I have coached Tee Jay girls track and softball and currently teach driver’s education and sub here,” he said.
Ed and Cheryl started dating while attending Tee Jay and have been married for 42 years. They have three daughters and 10 grandchildren. He represents one of three generations of his family to teach in the Council Bluffs Community School District. His mother, Barbara Kermoade, taught at Kirn, Bloomer and Edison; and his daughter, Kylene, teaches first grade at Rue Elementary. Ed taught and coached at Longfellow Junior High for seven years and at Wilson Middle School for 26 years. He has also taught driver’s education part time for 41 years at 13 different high schools across the metro area.
“Coaching at Longfellow and Wilson have always been high points in my life. At Longfellow, I got to work with legendary coach Dan Koch (T.J., 1965), who taught me that some students would not be in school if it wasn’t for sports. He made sure I understood to find out what makes the student tick, practice fundamentals, have fun and put their goals ahead of mine. At Wilson, I got to coach with Tee Jay All-American football player Mike Witt (’71) for over two decades,” he said.
Volunteering with the West End Optimist Club and the Cobra Optimist Sports Club is also a big part of Ed’s life. He also worked with the Students Working All Together team at Wilson, a Junior Optimist Club. He was one of the marshals of the 2005 Celebrate CB Parade for his work with youth. He tries to pass on to all of his students that “it is always the right time to do the right thing” and “if you are early, you are never late.”
Claudia Schnaible, Class of 1955
Claudia is a lifelong resident of Council Bluffs and a 1955 graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School. While in high school, she was a member of the student council and the Pep Club. After attending one year at UNO, she decided to go right into the workforce and start her career. Several years later, she met her husband, Harvey, and they got married and had one child — their son, John.
Her retail career would begin in the late 1960s with a position as a sales associate at Phillip’s Department Store. She was eventually promoted to clothing line buyer, where she enjoyed buying trips to New York City until Phillip’s closed its doors in 1984. After a brief entrepreneurial stint with her own clothing store, she finished out her retail career with more than 10 years each at Younkers and Von Maur.
Claudia has always loved to dedicate her time and give back to the community in many different capacities. She has been a youth leader for Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, president of Beta Sigma Phi Sorority, a member of the support group for Alzheimer’s at St. Joseph’s Villa, a volunteer for Bethany Lutheran Home and a member of the Hall of Fame committee.