Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Shenandoah Valley Academy Honors Dale Twomley

Story by Janel Haas Ware

Dale Twomley recently presided over the final graduation of his notable 55-year career. Graduate Andrew Moore introduced Twomley as commencement speaker, explaining “Dr. Twomley has been a teacher, treasurer, business manager, principal, CEO, university department chair and business school dean. …there is no place he has made more of a difference than here at Shenandoah Valley Academy (SVA).”

In 1974 Dale, and his wife, Connie, answered his first call to SVA as principal. Twomley (pictured left with his dog Barron circa 1974-1976) increased enrollment from 240 to 398; supervised a $2 million plant expansion: including an administration building, pool and church; and expanded Shenandoah’s reputation for excellence, spirituality, academics and fun.

He left SVA in 1978 to chair the Andrews University (Mich.) Business Department, establishing its school of business. In the following 14 years Twomley led Worthington Foods, increased sales $158 million, tripled the workforce and took the company public. Twomley says,“Running the ‘small village’ of Shenandoah Valley Academy was the best preparation I received for working at Worthington.”

The Twomleys’ 16 years post-retirement has been dedicated to strengthening Adventist secondary boarding education. Dale shares, “I just haven’t figured out how to succeed in this retirement thing.” They’ve attempted retirement five times, each time returning to help “troubled” academies.

Returning to SVA in 2006, Twomley oversaw capital improvements of $4.5 million, including dorm, student center and ballfield renovations. He solidified a quality program, communicated a clear school vision, and provided sound financial management. Enrollment increased 30 percent each year as Twomley partnered with churches, foundations and alumni to help families afford an SVA education. “To my knowledge, no qualified student since has been turned away because of finances. That’s our policy.” states Twomley.

In 2014 Twomley answered his third call, refusing salary. SVA faced significant challenges including crippling payments on $1.4 million of debt. In 18 months, applying the principles of school stabilizations he has led, Shenandoah has all but made a complete turn-around. With generous donations from alumni and friends, the debt was eliminated in 14 months—for the first time in 40 years. School spirit is strong; students are choosing Jesus and baptism; another enrollment increase is anticipated in August; alumni and individual giving is at an all-time high; and a new administration is in place with Twomley mentee Donald Short becoming principal June 1.

Honoring God’s accomplishments through the work and faith of Twomley, the SVA Board named the administration building “Dale E. Twomley Hall,” and established the “Dale E. Twomley Pillar Award” recognizing the significant impact of Twomley’s “vision, leadership, humility and love” as “a disciple of Jesus who faithfully answered the call to serve, support and sustain the people and educational ministry of Shenandoah Valley Academy.” Dale and Connie Twomley (pictured in the featuer photo) are the award’s first recipients.

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