Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

At the Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting Monday night, English/language arts teacher and ELA coach Stephanie Burns gave an update on her progress as a coach, as well as her plans for the ELA programs in the county.

Burns was hired last year as part-time ELA coach, and when she wasn’t in her classroom at Marlinton Middle School, she was visiting the ELA classrooms in the other four county schools to see how they can improve the program.

“We made progress this year,” Burns said. “I was able to get into most classrooms – the English/language arts classrooms – elementary through the high school, and saw some wonderful things. Teachers asking a lot of questions; teachers were sharing a lot of concerns, where we feel we need to go.”

Burns took the information she received from the other teachers and created a plan for the future. She explained that she would like to focus on preschool through third grade and create a cohesive plan to give teachers time to work together and create a curriculum that will serve the students well.

“I am planning a summer institute for teachers and staff – aides, speech therapist – anyone who’s interested, who works with students – preschool through third grade,” she said.

The institute is scheduled for May 29 and 30.

Burns, along with approximately 25 other staff members will attend an Explore Academy in Huntington on May 23 to observe the EL Curriculum. This particular curriculum interests Burns and many teachers because it implements units and themes.

“What I have found through research is that the curriculums that we have in our schools do not meet national standards,” she said. “We have Journeys and Collections from Houghton Mifflin and, according to the Ed Reports, what we have in our schools do not meet expectations.”

In Burns’ opinion, the EL Curriculum is better suited, but it comes with a cost. The actual lesson plans are free, but the schools would have to purchase materials needed to teach from those plans.

Burns said she will continue to work with the elementary school teachers and next year, she will have more time to spend in the classrooms since she will be half-time coach and half-time teacher.

“I’m excited,” she said. “My goal is to get to every elementary school three times a month which is an increase from last year.”

The board thanked Burns for the update an asked her to continue to keep them informed as the program progresses.

SADD members Emily Henderson and Kinley Wilfong gave a presentation on what they learned at the National Leadership Conference and SADD conference they attended this year. The young ladies displayed posters they made showing how teens in the county are using marijuana and the risk factors involved with that drug use.

They explained that teens feel that it is accepted by their friends and family – who they observe using marijuana – and they give in to either peer pressure or because they feel it will help with stress relief.

Pocahontas County Prevention officer Cheryl Jonese added that, because of the success of the conferences, they will expand their program to include leadership groups.

“They [Henderson and Wilfong] are going to be team members of one of the first leadership groups,” Jonese said.

During the Delegations portion of the agenda, Green Bank community members and parents Andrew Seymour, Jee Seymour, Paul Vosteen and Hanna Sizemore shared their concerns about the loss of art and music in the elementary schools.

They asked the board to keep the community and parents informed about how they can help raise funds and awareness to keep the arts in all levels of school.

Because it was not on the agenda and was part of the Delegations, the board could not directly discuss the issue.

At the end of the meeting, during the Matters of the Board portion of the agenda, board member Justin Dilley asked Superintendent Terrence Beam to clarify what happened with art at the elementary schools.

“To be very frank, I’m not sure,” Beam said. “Nothing has changed at Green Bank. We did not change the teacher. We did not change the art assignment. From what I’ve been told – and it’s just speculation – but I think it’s accurate speculation, is that [principal Ricky] Sharp has decided to offer art education only to his middle school students rather than the elementary.”

Beam explained that art teacher Alison Flegel is a part-time employee and her contract has not changed for the upcoming school year.

It’s a principal’s decision as to how they want art to be taught in their school,” Beam said.

While Green Bank Elementary-Middle School has not changed, there was a change elsewhere in the county. When art teacher Margaret Baker retired from Marlinton Middle School and Marlinton Elementary School, the position was changed. It is now just a position at MMS.

Beam explained that he spoke with MES principal Phillip Anderson, and they are working on the schedule to allow the teachers to include art in their classrooms. Beam reminded the board that all elementary school teachers are qualified to teach art in the classroom and it is not required to offer a separate art class in elementary schools.

Beam reiterated that the board did not make any changes at GBEMS, and said he has tried to explain this to concerned citizens and parents.

In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:

• Annual agreement to participate in the West Virginia Department of Agriculture food distribution program for the 2019-2020 school year.

• Policy JBCCA – Attendance Zone Policy.

In personnel management, the board approved the following:

• Creation of position 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 Sherri L. Howe as cafeteria manager – summer feeding program – at Marlinton Elementary School, at regular hourly rate of pay based on state minimum, effective June 14 through July 29 – except July 4 – six hours per day, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

• Employment of Sherri L. Howe as custodian III – Energy Express – at Marlinton Elementary School, at $12 per hour, not to exceed $600, effective June 17 through July 26 – except July 4 – two hours per day, five days per week, 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.

• Employment of Lisa G. Rich as secretary II/accountant II at Marlinton Elementary School, at state basic pay, effective for the 2019-2020 school year. Term of employment is 215 days.

• Employment of Aaron L. Pugh as teacher of social studies at Marlinton Middle 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 Casey Griffith as teacher of mathematics 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. Employment is contingent upon proper certification by July 1.

• Employment from preferred recall list of Lori A. Doolittle as coordinator of child nutrition and food service/truancy diversion specialist for Pocahontas County Schools, at state basic salary based on degree and experience, effective July 1, for the 2019-2020 school year. Term of employment is 220 days.

• Rescind resignation of Cora Lee Carpenter as executive secretary/accountant III for Pocahontas County Schools.

• Resignation of Jerald Ramos as itinerant teacher of special education, multi-categorial, at Pocahontas County High School, effective at the end of the 2018-2019 school year.

• Employment of Cammy J. Kesterson and Shonda Carr as credit recovery teachers for Pocahontas County Schools, at $20 per hour, not to exceed $1,840, effective June 3 through July 5, as needed, not to exceed 28 days, Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Kesterson will work at Green Bank Public Library and Carr will work at McClintic Library.

• Employment of Tina Jackson as cafeteria manager and Martha Friel as cook II for Band Camp at the 4-H camp at Thornwood, at an hourly rate of pay based on state minimum, effective Saturday, July 28 through Thursday, August 1.

• Employment of M. Susan Arbogast, Kim Clifton and Lucy Rittenhouse as parent involvement coordinators for Pocahontas County Schools at $20 per hour, 125 hours, not to exceed $2,500 per position, effective July 1, 2019 through May 15, 2020. Schedule to be determined by the director of federal programs, but cannot be extended beyond May 15, 2020. Salary to be paid by Title VI funds.

The next board meeting will be Monday, May 20, at 6 p.m. at the board of education conference room.

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