Troilen Gainey Seward, EdS, is a retired school superintendent, psychologist, and teacher who continues to advocate for Virginia schools and students as an educational lobbyist. Psychology was Ms. Seward’s lifelong passion, and when she began studying at the College of William and Mary, she excelled at her abnormal psychology courses and began an internship in the children’s ward at an area mental hospital. Though she had planned to go to graduate school to become a psychologist, her direction changed when she met her husband, who owned a business in a rural area. Seeking a more portable career option, she changed her major to education, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in 1963.
From 1963 until 1967, Ms. Seward taught at the elementary level in Petersburg, Virginia, departing to join the staff of Surry Academy as a secondary teacher. In 1975, the EHA Act was signed into federal law, creating a demand for school counselors and psychologists, and she returned to school “to become the psychologist she always wanted to be.” She transitioned to become Surry Academy’s guidance counselor in 1976, and completed a Master of Education at Virginia Commonwealth University in 1977. The same year, she was named the headmistress of Tidewater Academy in Wakefield, Virginia, where she would continue to lead until 1979.
Constantly seeking to further her education, Ms. Seward returned to the College of William and Mary, completing an educational specialist certificate and a second Master of Education in 1980. That year, she began practicing as a child psychologist at the Peninsula Child Development Clinic, returning to education in 1982 as a school psychologist for Dinwiddie Public Schools. Ms. Seward continued her work with Dinwiddie Public Schools until her retirement from education in 2001, rising to become the district’s director of pupil personnel services and special education in 1990 and director of student services in 1993. She was named district superintendent in 1996, a role she proudly held until retiring from public education in 2001.
Throughout her career, Ms. Seward has taken an active role in shaping the culture and regulations that helped set the tone for schools and social services, including terms as president and chair of the certificate and licensure committee of the Virginia Association of School Psychologists, and a delegate to the National Association of School Psychologists. Following her retirement, she continued her advocacy by becoming an education lobbyist, working on landmark legislation including the law that officially banned corporal punishment from Virginia schools. She spent many years with the Virginia Board of Education on several of their subcommittees and advisory boards, including the Surry County social services board and the adult education advisory board. Ms. Seward remains active on the board of the Virginia Literacy Foundation and the Virginia Retirement Systems board of trustees, and she continues to act as an independent consultant.
In recognition of her career record of dedication to her profession and community, Ms. Seward was presented with the National Association of School Psychologists 2016 Outstanding Advocate Award. She has been named a Marquis Who’s Who Top Professional and presented with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as profiled in numerous editions of Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, and Who’s Who in the World. When she is not fighting for the rights and well-being of Virginia students, Ms. Seward enjoys reading, going to area beaches, and spending time with her two children and two grandchildren.