Pocahontas Schools – Cutting Edge Math Instruction

At the November 28th Board of Education meeting, two Math instructors from the Pocahontas County Schools discussed exciting new concepts being explored and implemented in the schools’ Mathematics classrooms.

First up was PCHS Math Teacher Leah Shinaberry who described her participation in a Boston based Math research initiative involving Stanford University titled “The Better Math Teaching Network”. Shinaberry is also involved with a practical spinoff group from that – the Network Improvement Council”  where Math teachers throughout New England network with each other about what works and what doesn’t  work in their Math classroom. They identify problems in the Math classroom and discuss ways to solve them. Leah describes the issues and ideas she is currently working within the group and in her classroom.

“We have three new things that we are looking at improving in our classrooms” Leah told the Board Members. “The first one is making connections among mathematical concepts and connecting those concepts to real world ideas. The second one is – actually understanding the concepts, and not just what steps you take to solve something. And the third is on reasoning – communicating and justifying your own mathematical thinking as well as being able to critique somebody else’s reasoning. And that’s what I was focusing on in the project I did in October. We were looking at how to make sure everybody is involved in a conversation in class. You don’t have the option to just sit back and watch everything happening, but you have to actually participate because your learning improves.”

Pocahontas County Instructional Math Coach Joanna Bert-Kinderman also addressed the Board, and first commented about the Better Math Teaching Network that Leah is involved with, and just how remarkable it is that a New England based network had invited a very non-New England school system – Pocahontas County – to join it.

“This is a New England Group, funded by a New England Funding company” said Joanna. “And we were only included because the people thought what was going on here was remarkable. So it really is a big deal. It’s cutting edge research coming from a Stamford group –American Institute for Research, which is a big deal in D.C. I think the researchers stopped saying ‘hay, we know what you should do, now you go do it and they are starting to say ‘hay, lets figure it out together’ and I think that’s pretty Rad.

Joanna went on to talk about the Memorandum of Understanding with the WV Department of Education concerning the Innovation in Education Grant which would focus on Math Modeling in Real Life Situations. The Board did approve this later in the meeting. She also discussed the partnership between the Green Bank Observatory and the County Schools which enhances the successful Computer Science Classes, and about her plans to use that grant to expand this cooperation to other Math and Science classes.

In other actions, the Board approved routine financial statements, reports and grants. They also heard from School Bus Operator Jamie Walker who asked to withdraw his request to transfer to a new position in Maintenance because of uncertainty about if he would have to obtain various certifications such as HVAC, Plumbing and Electrical certifications at his own expense. He had been selected for the position pending approval on this meeting’s Personnel Agenda, but his selection was pulled from the agenda without a vote at his request.

They heard a presentation from Jay Miller, sue Groves, Michelle Jeffers, Allen Johnson and David Litsey, who wanted board of Education approval to form a Proposed School Building Research Committee to conduct surveys and interviews of citizens and School employees to try and learn why the Excess School Levy was voted down at the recent election. Later in the meeting the Board unanimously voted to not offer their approval to this proposal.

They approved several volunteer basketball coaches (Andrew “Frosty” McNabb and Steven D. Mick Jr. at Marlinton Middle School and Jimmy Vandevender at Green Bank), and a volunteer cheerleading coach (Allysa H. Dunbrack at Marlinton Middle School).

The Board approved a new Athletic Policy, and also approved a Personnel Agenda which can be found with this story on our website, alleghenymountainradio.org.

Personnel Agenda -November 28, 2016 Board of Education Meeting

EMPLOYMENT: Tina L. Jackson as Cook –SPLASH Program at Green Bank elementary-Middle School retroactive to October 10, 2016 –through the end of the school year. 2 hours per day, 4 days per week at $12.00 per hour.

EMPLOYMENT: Nikki Alikakos as ELA Tutor/Enrichment Instructor (Project SPLASH) at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School at $20.00 per hour effective 11-30-16 for up to 25 weeks 7 hours per week.

Requested Transfer* –Jamie C. Walker from school Bus Operator to General Maintenance /Heating & Air conditioning Mechanic II/ Electrician I/ Plumber I/Painter  -*- NOT VOTED ON, pulled from the agenda at Jamie Walker’s request.

EMPLOYMENT: Michael F. Hudson and Aaron L. Pugh as Substitute Teachers for remainder of the School Year.

EMPLOYMENT: Jean O. Srodes as Wellness Coordinator retroactive to beginning of the school year at $25.00 per hour, 28 hours per week, not to exceed $700.00 per week.

EMPLOYMENT: of the following as Wellness coaches for the schools indicated, effective November 30, 2016 – $20.00 per hour, I hour per month.

  • Katherine LaFleur –Green Bank Elementary-Middle School
  • Gina A. Hardesty –Hillsboro Elem. School
  • Diane L. Delfino-Marlinton Elem. School
  • Jessica A. Hays – Marlinton Middle School
  • Abram J. Rittenhouse – PCHS

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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