MMS focused on positive climate for students

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

At the board of education LSIC (Local School Improvement Council) meeting Monday night, Marlinton Middle School principal Joe Riley said the staff has invested itself in making the school more of a home for the students.

“One thing that we tried to do at the beginning of the year is try to change the climate of the school a little bit; make it a little bit more inviting for the students so that they will enjoy being here,” Riley said. “Hopefully as you came in, you saw our wall where we started off the first of the year with our handprints on the wall, so that we would make this a home for all of our kids.”

Riley has implemented a new program called Positive Postcards which gives individual students recognition at school as well as at home.

“On a weekly basis, I give the teachers some Positive Postcards,” he said. “They pick a couple of students they want to recognize then we do shout outs on Friday over the intercom and then we mail those Positive Postcards home.”

The school is also taking the “it takes a village” approach to teaching the students by involving the community more.

“We’ve embraced a lot of guest speakers in our school,” guidance counselor Missy Doss said. “We’ve had topics such as First Aid/CPR, we’ve had the prosecutors office come in. We’ve had multiple bullying prevention programs and we have High Rocks that comes in every Friday and does health lessons with our fifth and sixth grade children.

“We’ve also got mentors from our community coming in,” Doss continued. “We have four mentors that visit our school regularly. We did a very extensive training with those mentors. They come in and work with the kids that are struggling, kind of like a Big Brother/Big Sister program, but just informal.”

Doss added that she has a need for more mentors and if members of the community are interested in helping, they may contact her at the school.

The faculty has also implemented an advisor/advisee program which gives each student a one-on-one connection with a teacher.

“Each child has a home teacher,” Doss explained. “They meet with that teacher every single morning to get their day started off properly with all their materials, and they finish their day with that same teacher. At the end of the day they talk about what homework they have and things like that.”

In preparing for the upcoming Westest, Riley said the staff is analyzing data and looking for ways to improve scores.

“We’re looking at our data,” he said. “One thing that I do want to say on a positive note is you all have helped us out with getting Kathy Snyder. She has come in to give us some help, and it was been really good for our school. She has definitely had an impact on what we’re trying to do.”

Snyder consults with the teachers and assists them with Westest preparation.

Each department head gave an update on the programs implemented at MMS:

• Teresa Rhea explained the new math program for students in sixth through eighth grade. The program, called Power Teaching, utilizes teamwork and has the students teacher each other.
Instead of the teacher lecturing for an hour, she introduces a concept and then has the students work in teams to find ways to solve the problem.

Rhea, Cammy Kiner and Stephanie Workman said the students have struggled with the new math, but they are seeing positive results in their work and implementation.

• Reading/Language Arts teacher Stephanie Burns said the students are working on portfolios of all their writing. Reading is using more non-fiction texts in the classroom as well as real world experiences.

• Science department teachers Denise Sharp and Cindy Shreve reported that they both attended science conferences over the summer where they got materials to implement in class.
Sharp said she is using hands-on kit based learning along with some reading material. Shreve added that a lot of the equipment in the science department is more than 20 years old and needs to be repaired or replaced.

• Band teacher Rick McLaughlin said the music department has had a successful year. The band brought home several trophies from competitions during the Mountain State Forest Festival and at Greenbrier East High School.

He asked the board to consider purchasing a subscription to the Music K-8 magazine. The magazine has samples of music and other instructional supplies he can use in his classes.

• Special education teacher Jennifer McCarty said she is collaborating with all the teachers to better meet the needs of her students. She utilizes skill builders to help the students retain what they’ve learned during the year.

• Librarian Sharla Sherman reported that she is very pleased to have a collection of new books in the library. She said the 30-minute reading period has led to more students using the library.
Sherman added that Nancy Martin created a book catalog on the computer which the students use to check the availability of books.

• The after-school program has been renamed SPLASH – Supportive Personalized Learning After School Hours. Lowell Galford reported that the program has had a good turn out of students. Along with assisting students with their studies, the SPLASH program has extracurriculars including visual arts, performing arts, positive behavior and healthy lifestyle sessions.
SPLASH is four nights a week, Monday through Friday.

• LSIC president Lynn Jordan explained to the board that there is a concern about safety at the school. He said the security system needs to be updated in order for all staff to know who is in the school at all times.

A follow-up story will be in next week’s edition of The Pocahontas Times.

In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:

• Memorandum of Understanding between Pocahontas County board of education as a member of the Country Roads Cooperative and RESA I.

• To purchase a cabinet and countertop from Glade’s Building Supply in an amount not to exceed $1,000. Funded by the Julia Price fund.

• To increase the funding amount for the Farm2School AmeriCorps/VISTA volunteer from $3,000 to $3,250 for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

In professional management, the board approved the following:

• Employment of Dorthie Shamblin as half-time secretary II/accountant II at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, at state basic pay, effective December 4 for the remainder of the 2013-2014 school year. Term of employment is 129 one-half days. Term of employment shall be 215 one-half days each year thereafter.

• Employment of Lauren Cauley as assistant girls basketball coach at Marlinton Middle School, effective for the 2013-2014 season, at a supplement of $1,000.

• Employment of Lisa R. Burns as project ELA tutor/enrichment instructor for after-school at Marlinton MIddle School, effective December 4 through May 23, 2014, at $20 per hour, seven hours per week, not to exceed 25 weeks.

• Employment of Melinda Bussard as substitute cook for Pocahontas County Schools, effective December 4 for the remainder of the 2013-2014 school year, as needed, at state basic pay.

The next board meeting will be Monday, December 16, at 7 p.m. at the board of education conference room.

Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at

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