Roanoke County nonprofit leader named Red Cross Education Hero


As we wrap up our Celebration of Heroes we spotlight the 2018 Education Hero.

Nancy Hans is the executive director of the Prevention Council of Roanoke County.

While she may not teach in front of a class every day, she's educating more than just students.

Hans speaks to different groups and schools all over Roanoke County.

One day she's standing in front a civic league, the next, she's at a school.

Hans teaches students how to make healthy choices- and parents- how to navigate changing technology and resources. 

“When this first started there were no smartphones, and that is a huge piece of navigation through the teenage years and preteenage years, and now we do social media safety for parents of elementary school kids, because those kids have the phones,” Hans said.

The goal is to reduce risky behavior among youth.

She started in the role back in the early 2000s, when tobacco and underage alcohol use were the main concerns.

Now, we're facing a growing opioid epidemic among teens.

But that's not actually what Hans says is the biggest issue facing families right now.

“You don't just wake up and say, 'I'm going to take opioids; I'm going to be addicted to heroin,' so I will tell you I believe that the phone is the first piece of addiction,” said Hans.

Yes, giving a child a smartphone is her biggest concern.

At the civic league meeting, Hans asked the crowd how many apps popular with kids and teens they could identify.

“There's so much that's now underground that it's hard for parents to know what exactly is going on,” Hans said.

So while Hans is not teaching reading, writing and arithmetic, she's an education hero for her efforts to slow parents and children down.

“They don't have to grow up too fast, and it's just this fast pace that needs to be calm.”

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