BOE discusses science coach

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

It may be June, but the Pocahontas County Board of Education is already thinking about the 2019-2020 school year.

At its meeting Monday night, math coach Joanna Burt-Kinderman shared news with the board about a grant she recently received, as well as several proposals for other grants she is writing.

Burt-Kinderman said she received a $10,000 STEM grant, which will be used to hire Mary Sue Burns as a science coach. The goal is to have Burns help math and science teachers work together to ensure that math done in science classes matches that of the math department.

“We wanted to bring science in, mindful that if we’re treating math content differently in a science classroom when we’re applying it, we’re under serving our kids,” Burt-Kinderman said. “We’ve had a wonderful interest from middle and high school.”

Burt-Kinderman spoke about Burns, a retired PCHS science teacher, who is a highly decorated teacher in the state and has served in many capacities on the state level to help train science teachers.

“We’re really lucky that she’s interested in doing this,” Burt-Kinderman said. “We hope to be able to apply for that same funding again if we prove that we’re doing good jobs, and I think that will be the case.”

The funding will end in December, but Burt-Kinderman said she plans to apply again in hopes the program can continue.

The plan for next year will include having monthly meetings with math and science teachers together as well as a summer institute to incorporate best practices in using mathematics across both fields.

Burt-Kinderman added that if the program continues to receive funding, she wants to invite vocational classes to participate, as well.

“[Carpentry teacher] Duane Gibson has been the most generous person in terms of popping into our meetings and helping us start to understand the applications that he is using in his context,” she said.

Burt-Kinderman also has four proposals which have not as yet been funded, but she remains hopeful that she will receive the grants. They will be for the Mountain Mathematics Master Teachers – a program coordinated in partnership with West Virginia University; a National Science Foundation grant to take Mountaineer Mathematics statewide; a Gear Up First2 Network which will focus on increasing the graduation rate and assisting students with achieving a college degree; and a grant to fund a HSTA [Health Science and Technology Academy] offered through West Virginia Wesleyan College.

Burt-Kinderman said she would keep the board updated on whether or not those grants are funded.

In updates:

• Transportation director Ruth Bland gave a year in review report on the school fleet and her goals for fixing issues at the bus garage. Bland said there are five buses in the fleet that she would like to put out on surplus auction because they are either too old or have too many miles on them. She said the state requires that buses older than 12 years or with more than 180,000 miles must be taken out of a fleet and replaced.

The money received from the sale of the buses will not buy a new one, but it will help toward a purchase of one next year.

Bland also reported that she is the process of fixing the issues at the bus garage, including having the area graded. She added that the guttering needs replaced, but it is a bigger job than the grading, which can be done this summer.

• Morgan McComb, Clerk of the Works for the sewage system and water tower project at PCHS, said the project is nearing completion. The sewage system is running smoothly and the water tower will be installed this month. He hopes construction will be complete before school starts in August.

Once the water tower is installed and working properly, the old tank will be removed and used elsewhere.

In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:

• Policy IKJ – Pocahontas County Athletic Policy.

• To place Policy IFCB – Field Trips and Excursions on 30-day comment.

• Agreement between Pocahontas County Board of Education and Bluefield State College – College of Education, in regard to student teaching, effective for the 2019-2010 school year.

• Resignation of Devan Simmons as volunteer seventh and eighth grade cheerleading coach, retroactive to May 23.

• Ray Hendrick as volunteer assistant football coach at Pocahontas County High School.

In personnel management, the board approved the following:

• Requested transfer of Laura M. Pritt from teacher of early education at Hillsboro Elementary School, to teacher of multi-subjects at Hillsboro Elementary School at state basic salary based on degree and experience, effective for the 2019-2020 school year. Term of employment is 200 days.

• Employment of Kathy Mason as itinerant teacher of special education – multi-categorical, LD, BD, MI/autism at Pocahontas County High School, at state basic salary based on degree and experience, effective for the 2019-2020 school year. Term of employment is 200 days.

• Permission for the superintendent to post and fill positions prior to board approval, effective June 4 through August 20.

• Employment of Mary Sue Burns as science coach for Pocahontas County Schools, effective July 1 through December 31, at $20 per hour, not to exceed 150 hours. Position to be paid by grant funding.

The next board meeting will be Tuesday, July 9, at 6 p.m., at the board of education conference room.

Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at

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