At the board of education meeting Monday night, Delegate Denise Campbell presented information on a program utilized in Berkeley County schools.
Campbell said she recently visited the high school in Berkeley County and witnessed the Work Exploration Program which sends special needs students out into the workforce for training and work.
“What this program does is it allows special needs students who have the ability, they partner them up with a business that is willing to participate in their program,” Campbell said. “In Berkeley County, they have over 126 businesses that participate in this program and what they do is, they allow students to work.”
Students are matched with businesses where they are given a certain task to complete each day. One group worked at a high school preparing the Grab and Go breakfasts for the student body.
“This school had 450 students and they had five or six special education students, and each student had a job to do,” Campbell said. “Their job was, they had twenty minutes to get the Grab and Go ready for all the students. If you want to see a workforce, look at the workforce of special needs students because when you give them a task to do, they are so honored to do it.”
The program is very special to Campbell because she is a parent of a special needs student. She was thrilled to see the community embrace the students and invite them to be a part of their businesses.
“It was just so amazing to see that other people realized that just because we may perceive them as having a limitation, we also need to perceive them as having an ability,” Campbell said. “One thing about a lot of students who are special needs is they don’t take shortcuts. When you show them how to do a job, they do it, and they do it with perfection. They do it with pride and that is a group of individuals that I don’t want to see us forget.”
Campbell said she hopes to see the program utilized in every school in West Virginia because it is preparing special needs students for life after high school, as well as making them a larger part of the community.
“It was the best day I have spent in twenty years,” she said. “To see that the community wants to help those that sometimes people think can’t do much – when we can find that one thing that they’re really good at and we help them connect with that, boy, what a difference we’re making.”
Campbell shared pamphlets about the program with board members and said she would help the county if it decides to implement the program.
The board thanked Campbell for her presentation and expressed an interest in starting the program in the county.
Alderman asks for Grimes’ resignation
Former school board employee Norman Alderman, of Beaver Creek, addressed the board with a request for board president Emery Grimes to resign his post.
“I’m here tonight to request the resignation of Emery Grimes from the Pocahontas Board of Education due to the fact he has been living for a length of time in Marlinton with his mistress,” Alderman said. “By law, Mr. Grimes is declared to be incompetent to serve on the board of education. He has been living in the Central District consistently of the town of Marlinton while actually serving as a representative of the Northern District.”
Alderman said he and a group of citizens have signed a petition requesting a three judge panel to come to Pocahontas County to determine the validity of the allegations against Grimes.
“We respectfully request Mr. Grimes to vacate his office immediately to save the county the time and expense of a formal action,” Alderman concluded.
Alderman presented a hand-written statement to Superintendent Dr. Donald Bechtel and left the meeting. No response was made by Grimes or the board.
• Dr. Bechtel reported that the 11th grade was ranked first out of 55 counties on the Compass Mathematics test. A total of 61 students took the test with 21 reaching the benchmark.
Bechtel also recognized the bus drivers, substitute bus drivers, mechanics, director of transportation Ruth Bland and secretary Stephanie Barkley for a successful year transporting students to and from school. He said the drivers logged more than 300,000 miles this school year and said the year was safe because of their talent driving the winding roads of Pocahontas County.
The board thanked Bechtel for his dedication and service to the students of Pocahontas County. Bechtel will finish his term as superintendent June 30.
See next week’s edition of The Pocahontas Times for the personnel agenda items.
The next regular board meeting is Monday, July 13, at 7 p.m. in the board of education conference room.
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org