Teachers build on cheer bonds


Emma Dixon, Photography Director

Left to right: Mathis, Landsdowne, Craig
For two seasons, from 1999-2001, faculty members Genell Craig, Kristen Mathis, and Ian Lansdowne spent time together on the cheer team, where the three became good friends. Now, they have returned to teach together at the same high school from which they graduated.
Mathis and Lansdowne share a favorite memory from their cheer career: the night of the team sleepover in the gym.
“We practiced really late, sat around, watched movies, ran the halls, just having a great time,” Mathis said. “At some point through the night, we set off the school alarm because a couple of police officers showed up. All of us girls thought someone was breaking into the school to come get us, so we sent the guys out to handle it.”
Lansdowne also recalls that evening.
“All of a sudden this light comes from around the corner in the dark gym, and it was two policemen because the school alarm had gone off,” Lansdowne said. “No one knew what was going on, but all the girls pushed the guys at what they thought were intruders. We still laugh about it because they used [the] males as sacrificial lambs.”
Besides cheerleading, all three played another sport. Craig played basketball, Mathis played softball, and Lansdowne ran track and field.
“We were all really involved in athletics,” Mathis said. “So, most everything we did outside of cheerleading still involved sports games in some way.”
After high school, Mathis attended Radford University and majored in social science with secondary education.
“I never thought I would be teaching where I went to high school,” Mathis said. “Like most students in high school, I couldn’t wait to get out of Fauquier County and have new experiences.”
Lansdowne attended George Mason University where he ran track and field; he received his master’s degree in Education Leadership with a focus in administration from George Washington University. Lansdowne began teaching as an instructional assistant and then became a teacher. He and Craig are cousins, and have known each other for years.
“[We] have been best friends for a long time, so we talked and visited each other in [college],” Lansdowne said. “I would never [have] thought that I would teach with Ms. Craig. People think we are attached at the hip because they usually see us together. I wouldn’t [have] seen myself teaching with Mrs. Mathis, either, just because we were all so pumped to get out of here and move on.”
After graduating from FHS, Craig studied sociology, biology, and psychology before she became a psychiatric nurse one year after graduating from college. Craig was also an EMT and received her CNA and EMT license while attending FHS.
“Mr. Lansdowne had asked me if I was interested in doing a long-term substitute job last year, and it kind of just fell into my lap,” Craig said. “This year, I contracted and signed on as a full time teacher.”
The three love working with each other.
“It’s great. We still have that cheer bond,” Craig said. “I’ll go to Ms. Mathis room or Mr. Lansdowne’s room, and it seems like we’ll have moments when we’re back in it again.”
Mathis enjoys working with her cheer mates.
“It has always been a perk coming back to Fauquier to see all of the familiar faces, theirs included,” Mathis said. “We have a bond and experiences that will always unite us.”
Lansdowne said that teaching has strengthened the bond between them.
“We always speak to each other and are always laughing,” Lansdowne said. “Even when things around school get stressful or tough, we have someone else to talk to. We still have one another’s backs here at Fauquier.”
Cheering taught the three teachers valuable life skills.
“Our squad taught me that everyone is different and that it is important for people from different backgrounds to work together,” Lansdowne said. “We had guys that were wrestlers or football players along with a bunch of girls. We all had to work towards one purpose, and we had to learn how to communicate, which is something I still have to do to this day.”