Rapp U. preps for a Sperryville campus

Though the paperwork is still pending, Rapp U.’s volunteer organizers say they’re hoping by sometime next month to have a both a campus — a wing of the recently sold Sperryville Emporium on U.S. 211 just east of the park — and an official association with Valley Health/Page Memorial Hospital for health-care workforce training classes.

Rapp U.'s classrooms, according to founder Doug Schiffman, would take up the right-hand third of the old Sperryville Emporium, which recently changed hands.
Rapp U.’s classrooms, according to founder Doug Schiffman, would take up the right-hand third of the old Sperryville Emporium, which recently changed hands. By Roger Piantadosi/Rappahannock News

Rapp U. founder and Sperryville financial consultant Doug Schiffman said this week that the charitable organization, which isn’t really a university but, after a year of planning, began offering adult continuing-education classes this spring in Rappahannock, will likely soon have a signed lease with Eric Tollefson, another Sperryville resident who last month bought the former Emporium property for $475,000.

Tollefson, who emailed this week that his plans for the property are not yet definite, did submit preliminary building plans for a 40-seat cafe and market to occupy the roughly two-thirds of the building that Rapp U.’s classrooms would not lease.

Schiffman said Rapp U., meanwhile, has a provisional commitment from Valley Health/Page Memorial Hospital to partner with Rapp U. to offer health-care-related occupational courses at the Sperryville facility — including continuing CNA (certified nurse’s assistant), personal care aides (PCA) and medication technician classes. Page Memorial Hospital President Travis Clark, in an email earlier this week, declined to comment on the agreement until (he said) the hospital’s letter of commitment is finalized.

Accompanying Schiffman during a brief interview Monday was former Wakefield Country Day School head and one-time interim county school superintendent Kathy Grove, whom Schiffman referred to as the new “dean” of Rapp U.

Schiffman said Grove, a member of the Rapp U. board, will be focusing on Rapp U.’s continuing-education offerings, which resume next month with 23 classes ranging from “Evolution of American Politics” to courses in bridge, crosswords, geneaology, fly fishing, mosaics, poetry and golf.

Most of the sit-down classes will take place at the new campus in Sperryville, Grove said. In its first-ever semester this spring, Schiffman said, Rapp U. had 160 people sign up for 23 courses at nine different locations around the county.

Unlike the volunteer instructors for its continuing education component, Schiffman said, trainers for the health-care workforce courses are both fully paid and harder to come by — which is why, he said, the association with Valley Health is such a promising development.

CNA certification courses include 40 hours of classroom instruction and 100 hours of clinical experience; a recent nearby offering included a tuition fee of $900.

“We will be able to offer these classes locally for less than the going price,” Schiffman said. Grove added that there will also be subsidies/scholarships available, based on need.

Schiffman said he has also been working toward having training courses at the facility for emergency medical technicians — the basic course being known as BLS, or Basic Life Support. The classes would include working in a simulated patient’s room (something the CNA classes require as well) and inside an actual ambulance, which would be permanently parked inside the building, Schiffman said.

He has been working with most of the county’s volunteer rescue squads to make that happen, Schiffman said, as well as with Rappahannock County Public Schools Superintendent Donna Matthews, who (Schiffman said) is willing to make both the nurse’s assistant and Basic Life Support classes available to students at the high school. Though not for high school credit, the high school class schedule could be adapted to make it easy for students to take the classes, since they would be just six miles away (as opposed to the minimum 30-mile drive to current offerings).

Rapp U.’s full schedule of upcoming adult continuing education classes is at the organization’s website (rappu.org), where students can also register for a class — starting Monday, Aug. 22, Grove said.

Roger Piantadosi
About Roger Piantadosi 545 Articles
Former Rappahannock News editor Roger Piantadosi is a writer and works on web and video projects for Rappahannock Media and his own Synergist Media company. Before joining the News in 2009, he was a staff writer, editor and web developer at The Washington Post for almost 30 years.