All eyes were on the 13-month-old yellow Labrador Retriever in a red vest at the Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting last week.
It was a big day for the young pup named Kasha. Earlier that day, she was introduced at the Green Bank Elementary-Middle School Pup Rally, where she met the students and staff she will be working with as the school’s therapy dog.
After the welcome wagon at the school, Kasha and her trainer, Jil Mazellan, traveled to Marlinton Middle School to attend the board meeting and meet the board members.
Mazellan introduced Ka-sha to the board and explained the process Kasha went through to become a therapy dog.
“I represent Ultimate Canine and that is the training company where Kasha has been trained,” Mazellan explained. “I say she started training from birth because she comes from a genealogy of helping dogs. Her mom and dad were helping dogs.”
Kasha was tested and proved to have the disposition and know-how to be part of the program.
Kasha has been partnered with four trainers at GBEMS – principal Shana Alderman, Community in Schools coordinator Jonathan Paul, science teacher Ellie Bell and speech pathologist Jennifer Chestnut. The four individuals will work together on Kasha’s schedule at the school, as well as keep her safe after hours and on weekends when she is not working.
It isn’t all work and no play for Kasha, though. When her red vest comes off, she is allowed to be a regular dog and do regular dog things, with her manners intact.
Kasha is one of 10 therapy dogs placed in schools in West Virginia through the Friends with Paws program spearheaded by First Lady Cathy Justice.
During the informational reports portion of the meeting, math tutor Jay Miller presented a proposal to the board concerning his position. Miller has been a math tutor at Marlinton Elementary School for eight years and he said he is concerned about the future of the program.
Once he is ready to retire, Miller wants to ensure there will be someone in place to continue the tutoring program which focuses on times tables and helping students do addition and subtraction in their heads.
“I propose that a candidate search be conducted for a math tutor trainee and, if successful, have that person work alongside me during the spring semester to learn my methods for working with students from kindergarten through fifth grade,” he said.
Miller added that he is willing to cover the cost of 200 hours of observation and training at the current substitute teacher rate.
The board explained to Miller that the issue will need to be discussed with superintendent Terrence Beam, who was absent from the meeting. Board present Sue Hollandsworth said the board will revisit the proposal at a later time, once Beam has the necessary information.
In personnel management, the board approved the following:
• Resignation of Christopher M. Baber as teacher of music/band director at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, retroactive to December 12.
• Resignation of Ruth A. Bland, due to retirement, as director of special education/student support services, transportation and technology integration specialist, coordinator of preschool, technology, testing and WVEIS for Pocahontas County Schools, effective July 1, 2023.
• Resignation of Teresa Kloeker as substitute aide for Pocahontas County Schools, retroactive to November 29.
• Resignation of the following athletic coaches, retroactive to December 5: Douglas Burns, head football coach; Matthew Buzzard, assistant football coach; Robert Cummings, assistant football coach; and Aaron Pugh, assistant football coach, assistant boys track coach and assistant girls track coach.
• Aaron L. Pugh as volunteer track coach for both the boys and girls track teams, effective for the 2022-2023 athletic season.
• Rebecca L. Peteete as volunteer Green Bank Elementary-Middle School girls basketball coach, for the 2022-2023 athletic season.