Upon graduating from Roanoke College in 1960 with a bachelor of arts degree in secondary education and history, Gordon began work that same year as a high school teacher and pursued her master's degree in liberal studies from Hollins College and her doctorate in education administration from Virginia Tech. In July 1994, following 34 years of service as an educator and administrator, Dr. Gordon was named superintendent of Roanoke County Public Schools, becoming the first female superintendent in Roanoke County. She served in that capacity for 5 ½ years.
Her other professional achievements include teaching graduate courses in educational administration at Virginia Tech and serving as an adjunct instructor in economics, history, and remedial instruction for the Roanoke Extension Center of the University of Virginia.
Gordon has served on the board of directors for the United Way of Roanoke Valley, the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge, and the Roanoke Valley Chapter of the Red Cross. She has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including Woman of Distinction by the Skyline Girl Scout Council; Educator of the Year by the Roanoke Valley Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa; Distinguished Service Award from the Roanoke County Council of PTAs; and Distinguished Woman Alumnus from Virginia Tech.
Through her continuous commitment to educational excellence, Dr. Gordon has demonstrated her loyalty to the mission of her alma mater. "As I have made contacts across the nation, I have become even more proud of the contributions that Roanoke College makes to the education reputation of our area and of its enhanced national stature," she said.
Deanna Wagner Gordon received the Roanoke College Medal in 1996.