Part 1 Pocahontas School Superintendent Interview-County #4 in WV in Math
On April 13th we had the opportunity to ask the Pocahontas County School Superintendent Terrence Beam about the County’s schools.
My first question to Mr. Beam was: – There were some very enthusiastic and proud Math Teachers at the last Board of Education Meeting who had recently attended a Statewide Conference of Math Teachers. They reported that the Pocahontas County Math Program was the talk of the entire conference. I understand that the 8th grade and 11th grade Pocahontas students tested # one in the entire state in Math last year and the County overall tested 4th best in the state. Can you elaborate on this and about what we are hearing about our math program from the rest of the state?
“Yes, we are getting a lot of Complements” answered Beam. “When I go to Superintendent’s Conferences, I have Superintendents coming up to me. Doug Lambert in Pendleton County has come up to me a couple of times and said ‘what are you doing in Pocahontas County to make those math scores so good?’ So we are getting a lot of comments, and it’s not just been them. Nicholas County also sent some teachers over here recently to visit and have been very impressed with it. So we’re real proud of our Math Program at the High School and the Middle Schools, and we are trying to start to work a little more with our Elementary Teachers. It takes time to build a program, and you don’t see results immediately – but we think we are making some really good progress and those teachers ought to be commended. And they should be excited about the progress we are making.”
How did we achieve this?
“Six or seven years ago our Math scores were not very competitive and they weren’t very good” said Beam. “We started addressing the issues of our Math programs. Every summer for the past 4 or 5 years they (the Math teachers) have taken a week out of their summer to work on designing the Math Programs. Whether it’s been Math one or Math 2 or Math 3 or whatever, they’ve spent a lot of time on that and they’ve sought out other trainings to go to. They’ve brought in experts from other companies and school systems to guide them in the direction to improve our Math scores. For example, one of the things that Mrs. Kinderman was able to obtain for Pocahontas county schools was the Power Teaching Grant through Old Dominion University. It’s a ‘Success for All’ program that’s designed for the Middle Schools. It started off mostly at Marlinton Middle School, but it has migrated into Green Bank at this time. There is always some growing pains if anything new you try to do. Our kids struggled a little bit with it and our Teachers , I think, struggled a little bit with it, but they have seen it grow to where our kids are becoming much more comfortable with it and much more successful.”
On another topic, Mr. Beam, it was mentioned at a recent Board meeting that the SBA might consider building a new High School rather than renovate PCHS. Can you talk about that?
“I met with some architects and also with the SBA Executive Director David Sneed in Charleston about 5 or 6 weeks age” said Beam. “The architects were explaining to Mr. Sneed about the High School. The SBA is very aware that Stage 1 of our project is to repair Green Bank Elementary-Middle School and also to renovate Marlinton Middle School to house our Elementary School Students. And they know that step 2 in that process is to renovate the High School. Well the Architects told them they felt the high school was in such a state of disrepair – not from a lack of effort from our maintenance staff or custodial staff, just because of the age of the building being approximately 50 years old – that it might be cheaper to try to build us a new high school rather than renovate the one we have. They didn’t make a commitment to us that they would build us a new high school, but they said they would look in every direction. And I shared with them at that time that to build a new high school is an amazing amount of money and that it would be really difficult for the citizens of Pocahontas County to come up with a matching share similar to what we are trying to do now. And they shared with me that there have been times that they have been willing to put a little bit more into the kitty for these rural schools that simply don’t have the money to back it up. They didn’t make us any promises, but they certainly made me believe it was something they would strongly consider if and when we pass this levy and get through stage one of our project.”
Be sure to listen to Part 2 of this interview with the School Superintendent. I will be asking Mr. Beam to explain exactly what the SBA is committed provide the County Schools if the levy passes; why does the SBA insist we pass a levy before offering financial help; whether State budget cuts to education could upset the SBA’s commitment to the county; Who would be affected by a levy, and who would not be; just how much would the levy cost the average homeowner in the County; and would Hillsboro Elementary School’s future existence be threatened or ensured by passage of the levy.