Last week, Pocahontas County Schools Superintendent Terrence Beam announced his resignation, effective June 30. Although he was a year away from retiring from the position, Beam made the decision to resign instead to take the position as Superintendent of Nicholas County Schools.
Beam, who is from Nicholas County, said it was a tough decision to make, but after praying about it and discussing the change with his family, he knew it was the right thing for him to do.
“About half the family was excited, the other half was very quiet,” he said. “It wasn’t that they weren’t supportive. They were worried. They said, ‘Dad, there is a real issue over here right now, and we don’t want to see your health go down with the stress that it’s going to bring.’
“They’ve got a lot of issues over there in Nicholas and it all stems from the 2016 flood,” he explained. “Herbert Hoover High School was wiped out the same day, and they’ve already got their school built and are in it. They haven’t laid the first brick in Nicholas.”
The fact that Nicholas County middle and high school students have been learning in temporary facilities for the past seven years was one of the main reasons Beam chose to take the position.
“It’s what I need to do,” he said. “I need to try to help them to get these schools built. I won’t be there long enough to see those things finished, but I will be there to get some bricks on the wall and get them started. It’s been a shame. These middle school and high school kids have yet to be in a school. They’ve been in pods since 2016.”
The other draw to the position is that it will be a homecoming of sorts for Beam. He got his education in Nicholas County and started his career there. It seems fitting he finish his career there, as well.
“That’s always been my home,” he said. “I’ve lived there seventy years and, right now, everybody is excited to see me come back.
“That won’t last for long,” he joked. “I know that. The honeymoon will be over by September.”
It will be a difficult job to take on, but Beam said he is ready to fight the battle to help get the schools built and, if need be, fight the battle to cut things out of the original building plan.
“There is a $52 million shortfall in the project that they sent out to the public that they were going to do with the schools,” he said. “One of the things that I never got to do in Pocahontas County that I really wanted to do was build a new school. Well, I’m going to get that opportunity in Nicholas, but I’m going to have a lot less money than they promised, so that’s going to be a fight.”
Despite getting funding from FEMA and the state to replace the schools lost in the flood, the initial bids for both projects came back $52 million too high.
Richwood school will take $42.5 million and it has been approved. The other school is another story.
“[Richwood] has already been approved and they’re getting ready to get started on it now, but the one in the southern end, the big project, is going to be cut back drastically. I know I’m going to make people unhappy, but I’m not there to make them happy. I’m there to make the right decisions to get these kids in a school someplace.”
While it will be a struggle, Beam said he is ready to get Nicholas County back on track.
“It’s a challenge,” he admitted. “I’ve only signed a two-year contract and I did get the option to opt out after the first year. If I can bring someone in there to follow me, like what happened with Lynne [Bostic], it makes the transition much smoother.”
Bostic was hired by the Pocahontas County Board of Education last week as superintendent, and Beam said he is pleased to know that he will be leaving the school system in good hands.
“The county won’t miss a beat,” he said. “I don’t want to see the county struggle. I want to see the county flourish. I just hope I got it started in that direction and now they can move on with it from there.”
Beam said he is grateful for his time in Pocahontas County and said he won’t be a stranger, even if he will be in a different cheering section at football games.
“I’ll be back,” he said. “When Richwood comes to play, I’ll be here. I have nothing but good memories, leaving here. I cannot emphasize it enough how much I appreciate how I was treated here.”