Pocahontas Board of Education Approves New Courses and Educational Programs

At their March 15th meeting, the Pocahontas County Board of Education approved two new courses and one new educational program.

Eryn Neyer of the West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition explained the proposal to establish the Farm to School Program at each of the county schools. She said the 6 components of that program would be:

  1. To expose students to Agriculture.
  2. To prepare students to grow their own food.
  3. To teach students to develop and manage growing spaces
  4. To help sell youth grown produce.
  5. To establish a marketplace for youth grown produce.
  6. To develop youth agricultural entrepreneurship.

She suggested some good targets to accomplish the projects goals might be maple syrup production, high tunnels, raised garden beds, and fruit orchards at the schools.

Neyer said they have $11,869.00 available from a USDA grant for supplies and have also applied to the Snowshoe Foundation for another $20,000. She suggested that money, for example, could perhaps be used to purchase equipment for maple syrup production at PCHS.

The board liked the concept of this program and approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition to “encourage and strengthen existing youth in agriculture and procurement efforts.”

Justin Dilley asked the board to approve an Introduction to Land Surveying dual credit elective course at PCHS in conjunction with Glenville State College. He said Pocahontas would be the only county in West Virginia offering this, adding that surveying is a good career option since the average age of a licensed land surveyor in the state is about 64.  The board voted to approve that course, which could also count as 2 college credits at Glenville State.

Cammy Kesterson asked the board to approve a new business course, Career Work Skills Training, which would have both a classroom component and a work place component. She suggested this will help prepare students for the workplace with the proper workplace skills and business communication skills. She said it would also familiarize them with a sense of professionalism in the workplace, as well as prepare them to be competitive in obtaining career work. The board approved adding this class to the curriculum at PCHS.

David Moore asked the board to provide a van for use by the Golf Team and by other small school programs where 9 or less students need to be transported, along with their equipment to competitions or events. He said currently parents are expected to transport Golf Team members and this has proven to be inconvenient for some. Since purchasing a van was not on the agenda, no action was taken on this.

The board held the second and final public hearing on the 2022-2023 school calendar then voted to approved it.

School Cook Valerie Lambert addressed the board and requested that the current school cooks be allowed to have some input into selecting the replacement for Lori Doolittle, who is resigning as Food Service Director for the schools at the end of this school year

Lambert also suggested that the board consider purchasing food items from the USDA instead of from the private companies they now purchase from. She provided two examples of this difference in cost.

  1. The schools are now buying a case of mixed fruit from Gordon foods for $65.00 and the USDA sells the same case for $4.00.
  2. The schools currently buy ten pounds of Fajita meat from Gordon Foods while the USDA sells thirty pounds of the same Fajita meat for just $4.00.

Mr. Beam recognized the following winners of the elementary and middle school Young Writers Contest,

Grades 1-2: Kendyl Hummell from Gina Hardesty’s second-grade class at Hillsboro Elementary. Story: Max and Violet: Together Forever

Grades 3-4: Autumn Hively from Virginia Calhoun’s fourth-grade class at Hillsboro Elementary. Story: Panic at the Art Store

Grades 5-6: Nadiya Kerr from Erin Baldwin’s sixth-grade class at Green Bank Middle. Story: Regrets

Grades 7-8: Callie Davis from Jeanette Wagner’s eighth-grade class at Marlinton Middle: Story: The Hidden Princess

Beam congratulated the PCHS Math Field-Day Team for winning the Regional Finals, and also Tracey Valach for being invited to speak about the Adventure Pocahontas Program to the WV Superintendents’ State Conference this summer.

Beam said Sara Stull and Katlyn Simmons, both 11th grade students, attended the Upward Bound Leadership Conference, and Sara won an award for Exemplary Leadership Skills at that conference.

He also said he attended and was very impressed with the Black History Month Program put on by Hillsboro Elementary School in February.

Beam told the board that he will be attending the first “Grow Your Own Teachers” conference in Charleston on March 16th and will report back at the next board meeting about that.

Sarah Hamilton and Ruth Bland attended a student-teacher job fair put on by West Virginia State University and the University of Charleston. Hamilton spoke about this, saying there were 36 education students in attendance and although other states offered more pay and better benefits -such as Maryland offering a starting salary of $60,000 plus a $25,000 signing bonus-, eight students still seemed very interested in Pocahontas County’s presentation, especially the Adventure Pocahontas Program. She said these eight seemed very interested staying in West Virginia as teachers and some might consider teaching in Pocahontas County.

In addition to approving the normal financial reports, the board took up the following miscellaneous items.

  • The board approved an overnight trip for up to seven PCHS CTE students, plus CTE Teachers Mr. Gibson and Mr. Kerr to travel to Fairmont State University from March 24th through the 26th to attend the SKILLS USA competition.
  • They approved minor revisions to the school re-entry plan which are consistent with the current WVDE COVID mitigation strategies and they voted to remove the plastic carousels in the school cafeterias, as they are no longer needed.

They approved the following recommended Service and Professional Personnel Agenda:

The REQUESTED TRANSFER of MELISSA D. TAYLOR from being a Teacher of Multi-Subjects at Green Bank Elementary/Middle School to Teacher of Health/Physical Education at Green Bank E/M School, effective for next school year.

The EMPLOYMENT of ELEANOR L. BELL as a Teacher of Science at Green Bank E/M School.

A CONSCENT TO CHANGE for REBECCA A. SPENCER, Principal at Hillsboro Elementary School to become additionally an Itinerant Teacher of Gifted Services at Hillsboro Elementary School. Effective for next school year.

The RETIREMENT of DONALD E. MCNEEL as School Bus Operator effective June 30, 2022.

The RESIGNATION of LORI DOOLITTLE as Food Service Director effective June 30, 2022.

 A CONSCENT TO CHANGE for RICHARD F. McLAUGHLIN from Teacher of Music/PCHS Band Director at PCHS to Itinerant Teacher of Music, assigned to PCHS and Marlinton Middle School and as Band Director at both PCHS and Marlinton Middle School, effective for next school year.

ABOLISHMENT OF POSITION of Itinerant Teacher of Music position at Marlinton Middle School and Marlinton Elementary School and of the Band Director position at Marlinton Middle School, effective for next school year.

CREATION OF POSITION of Itinerant Teacher of Music assigned to Marlinton Elementary and Hillsboro elementary Schools effective for next school year.

ABOLISHMENT OF POSITION of Itinerant Teacher Art/Gifted, assignment Marlinton Middle School, effective at the end of the current school year, the position formerly held by Derek Trull.

The APPOINTMENT of J.L. CLIFTIN as Volunteer 4-5th Grade Basketball coach at Marlinton Elementary School.

The RESIGNATION of TIMOTHY SACCA as Substitute Custodian for Pocahontas County Schools, at his request and effective March 15, 2022.

The board also approved the following list of Parent and Community Volunteers for the Schools for this school year:

  1. Beckwith, Julianna
  2. Beckwith, Nanette L.
  3. Beckwith, Ralph W.
  4. Burns, Staci Dawn
  5. Chestnut, Martin Edward
  6. Cutlip, Arron Randolph
  7. Faulknier, Harriet Jean
  8. Hamilton, Heather Daniyell
  9. Hardy, Joshua P.
  10. Jordan, Melissa Kay
  11. Sharp, Jessie L.
  12. Sharp, Samantha Louise
  13. Smith, Melissa Dawn
  14. Spangler, Dennis Michael
  15. Taylor, Jeffrey Allen
  16. Trainer, Natasha Elaine
  17. Walton, Heather Ann
  18. Wayne, Brandy Ellen

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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