Big collaborations for a small county

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

At the Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting Monday evening, district math coach Joanna Burt-Kinderman gave a presentation on two projects she is working on which focus on recruiting more first generation college students into the STEM [Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics] field and helping West Virginia’s best math teachers to become leaders in creating more math teachers.

Pocahontas County is the district partner in both projects – First2 Network and Mountaineer Mathematics Master Teachers (M3T) and Burt-Kinderman said she wanted to update the board on the progress of both.

“The first one is called First2 Network, and this is major funding,” she said. “We’re one of five national alliances to get five year multi-million dollar funding.”

The First2 Network focuses on rural first generation college students to find ways to recruit them into the STEM field, as well as ensuring they are able to finish college and enter the workforce.

“This alliance is tasked with the big idea to make a more robust [STEM] pipeline and include people in STEM,” Burt-Kinderman said. “This is a statewide network. All universities are included, industry is included, and they are elevating some promising K-12 programs – including our math approach to improvement – and the Health Science Technology Academy that exists in twenty-four districts [in West Virginia], somehow not in ours. Any student that participates in that program all four years of high school, gets a complete tuition waiver for undergraduate and graduate school, so these are the kind of things that I’m hoping to leverage for our students.”

Mountaineer Mathematics Master Teachers (M3T) is a National Science Foundation funded project. Burt-Kinderman and WVU’s Dr. Matthew Campbell were awarded the $750,000 to find ways to elevate math teachers to leadership roles in their field.

“This is going to be a project to try to find the best math teachers in our state, give them $10,000 salary supplements to begin to take some instructional leadership roles,” Burt-Kinderman said.

The project – which is in its infancy – has brought together 35 West Virginia school districts. Eighty people from those districts have attended a brainstorming session to create a plan for the program and Burt-Kinderman said she and Campbell plan to write a proposal to get the program in motion.

“We have great encouraging support from the West Virginia Department of Education,” she said. “It promises if this many districts stay interested, they are going to help us fund the matching funds, so that’s pretty amazing and also kind of scary and a little bit humbling to be operating in that realm.”

Burt-Kinderman added that the M3T is going to follow her system for teacher improvement.

“Really, it is a very different way to do teacher improvement where you let teachers define their problems and come up with solutions collectively,” she said. “I don’t teach teachers to teach. I don’t tell them what to do. That’s not how I operate. It’s kind of a surprising, different way to do instructional improvement.”

The board thanked Burt-Kinderman for the update on the projects.

Superintendent Terrence Beam informed the board that Burt-Kinderman was selected by Education Week as one of its Leaders to Learn From honorees for 2019. Burt-Kinderman will join the other honorees – Superintendent Roberto Padilla, of Newburgh, New York; and charter school network CEO Emilio Pack, of Los Angeles, California – at the Education Week conference in May at Washington, D.C.

“The recognition I was given – I accept that on behalf of all the teachers who were part of the improvement,” Burt-Kinderman said. “I definitely appreciate the nomination and all the people who did sneak interviews I didn’t know about, including lots of people in this room.”

In updates:

• Beam reported that the Food Services program received Healthier United States School Challenges [HUSSC] awards for its efforts in providing students with quality nutrition. Hillsboro Elementary and Marlinton Middle schools received gold awards and Green Bank Elementary-Middle, Marlinton Elementary and Pocahontas County High schools received silver awards. The program also received $6,000.

Beam congratulated food services director Lisa Dennison and the school cooks for their efforts.

Beam also recognized the GBEMS Radioactive Robotics team which will participate at the world competition in Detroit, Michigan, in April. He added that the PCHS forestry team will be recognized at the January 9 West Virginia Department of Education meeting in Charleston.

• In his last meeting as student representative, PCHS senior Taylor Tegtmeyer gave a report on the school’s recent activities. The music department held its Christmas concert December 16 and had a great turnout. In sports, he reported on both the boys and girls basketball teams, which are in the full swing of the season. The archery team will attend its first competition January 19 and the track team will begin practice in February.

Tegtmeyer also reported the school had a Christmas dress up week similar to Spirit Week with a Christmas theme for each day. The National Honor Society continues to read to students at HES and MES and will begin reading at GBEMs next month.

The FFA citrus sales went well and the fruit was well received. Tegtmeyer added that the CTE [Career and Technical Education] classes recently completed the NOCTI tests. He said students who did well on the tests can received certification in their CTE field.

The board thanked Tegtmeyer for his service as student representative and wished him luck in the future.

Jarod Liptrap will serve as student representative for the second semester of the school year.

In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:

• Community and parent volunteers for Pocahontas County Schools.

• Kenneth Beezley and Joshua Hardy as volunteer fourth and fifth grade basketball coaches at Hillsboro Elementary School for the 2018-2019 season.

• Green Bank Elementary-Middle School Radioactive Robotics team to travel to Detroit, Michigan, for a national competition, department April 21 and returning April 28. Trip to be paid for by contributions and fundraising.

In personnel management, the board approved the following:

• Employment Denise Sharp and Jeanette Wagner as after school tutors at Marlinton Middle School effective December 19, 2018 through April 30, 2019, at the rate of $20 per hour, two hours per day, one day per week, not to exceed 26 weeks. Position to be divided equally between two individuals.

• Resignation of Lesa A. McCarty as custodian III at Pocahontas County High School, retroactive to the end of the day on November 23.

• Employment of Ross D. Boggs as substitute teacher for Pocahontas County Schools, effective December 19, for the remainder of the 2018-2019 school year, as needed, at state basic pay.

• Consent to change Gary Beverage as technology systems specialist for Pocahontas County Schools, from a contract term of 200 days to a contract term of 210 days, effective for the 2018-2019 school year.

The next board meeting will be Monday, January 7, 2019, at 6 pm., at the board of education conference room in Buckeye.

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