Pocahontas Teachers Prepare for the School Year
“Ready or not, here we come!” It’s that time of the year when kids – and parents too- can feel the approaching school year barreling toward them like a freight train. Pocahontas Schools open on Monday, August 15th, but for teachers and service employees of the schools that train has already arrived. They all reported to Pocahontas County High School on Wednesday August 10th for two days of required intense Continuing Education.
Allegheny Mountain Radio attended the opening session held in a packed auditorium where Superintendent Terrance Beam welcomed the school staff to the 2016-2017 school year.
“First of all, Welcome back” said Beam. “It’s been an interesting two months since June. A lot has happened in our State and in our communities. It’s nice to be back together again. In looking over Facebook this summer –I am a Facebook person- you see a lot of employees on there with family time, vacations. It is always interesting to see those things and a little uplifting at the same time. We all had personal things going on in our lives the last couple of months. We’ve had weather issues, family issues and so forth. As I said, we are very lucky to be in the positions we are and able to come to work every day and serve our students.”
Mr. Beam went on to tell them that he could give them a big pep talk, but that would only motivate them for a couple of days. Mr. Beam explains why.
“The reality of it is motivation that we have for our job has to come from inside of all of us” Beam said. “We all have an extremely important job to do and we have to find that (motivation) inside ourselves. Sometimes that’s not easy.”
Mr. Beam recognized and thanked Christine Smith who had organized this training and mentioned that Christine would be leaving her job to spend more time with her family in a couple of weeks.
The Superintendent went on to talk about his frustration about not having the money to do a number of things that would really help the education of the students, but that is just reality. He discussed some of last year’s goals, such as increasing communication. Likewise the schools have attempted to increase graduation rates and decrease dropout rates in the high school by changing the graduation requirements to make them more attainable for all students in the hope this will motivate students to stay in school and graduate rather than give up and drop out. They have addressed the truancy problems by hiring someone to work with the families of kids who are truent, and have used alternative teacher certification to help reduce the teacher shortage.
Another success has been moving the alternative education program for middle school students from the high school to the two middle schools. He attributes this success to Julie Rittenhouse at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School and Margaret Worth at Marlinton Middle School, and by keeping the students in their own schools.
Mr. Beam talked about the results of the employee survey and his concerns with the comments the responding employees used to describe their experiences with the Central Office Staff.
“Comments referred to things like ‘condescending’; ‘failed to communicate’; ‘dishonest’; and ‘untruthful’” said Beam. “Other than that they thought we did a pretty good job (Audience laughter).”
Mr. Beam pledged to change this perception and the way his staff communicates and works with other employees.
Each of the 5 Principals briefly spoke and spelled out their focus for the upcoming year.
Once the introductory session ended, the teachers and service staff broke out into a multitude of learning sessions on topics such as Substance abuse prevention, Literacy, Math, secretarial training, and just too many others over two days to mention. Each employee mapped out the sessions they either needed to attend or wanted to attend.
Pocahontas County is fortunate to have such a dedicated group of teachers, administrators and service personnel such as bus drivers, custodians and maintenance personnel.