At the Pocahontas County Board of Education Local School Improvement Council meeting at Pocahontas County High School Monday afternoon, the board learned about several programs utilizing cutting edge technology which will give students an upper hand in the future.
Business education teacher Cammy Kesterson gave a presentation on a new program her students are using called Salesforce. Salesforce is the number four software company in the world – after Adobe, Google and Microsoft – but is still less known than the others.
Kesterson explained that West Virginia Director of Career and Technical Education Dr. Kathy D’Antoni is pushing for West Virginia to be ahead of the game with Salesforce, which will give students an opportunity to enter the fast track in the technology workforce.
“Salesforce is a large umbrella that allows companies to use the Salesforce software to work with sales, service, marketing, commerce, engagement, platforms, integration, analytics, industries, communities, enablement and collaboration,” Kesterson said. “My students are working with a program called Trailhead which are modules that teach them how to use the Salesforce software and then allows them to take that software and develop apps and programs specific to a business.”
For example, Kesterson said her students could use the software to program apps for a real estate agent which would allow customers to search for houses in a particular price range.
At the end of the training, the students are eligible to take a test which will certify them as software administrators.
“Hopefully, at the end of the year when my kids are finished, they can sit for the Salesforce Administrator Certification Test and, coming out of high school with that certification, they could potentially get a job with no college education, making $70,000 a year,” Kesterson said. “Probably not in West Virginia. They would have to move away to do that, but the reason Dr. D’Antoni is pushing this initiative is, she said, ‘why do we need to outsource our computer programming and computer software design and app design to places in India when we have people right here in rural West Virginia who have those same skills or could be trained to have those same skills and they could use the money.’”
While D’Antoni’s original idea was to focus on coal counties where miners find themselves jobless and in need of a new trade, she has also started to implement the program in high schools, like PCHS.
“She’s slowly working those into the high school, and we’re one of the first high schools to start working with it,” Kesterson said. “My kids seem to be responding pretty well to it. It is challenging because it is not the most user friendly software, but it’s very powerful software.”
Along with the business department, the computer science and new engineering/robotics classes are also introducing students to technology and ways to earn a living in those fields.
Computer science and math teacher Laurel Dilley has been joined by fellow math teacher Jennifer Nail in teaching the program, which has expanded this year to include engineering and robotics.
Dilley and Nail explained that the students are not just learning coding and programming, but the ins and outs of the equipment and why it works the way it does. They are also learning more about the paperwork side in writing formal reports and citations about their projects.
Dilley gave a “shout out” to Green Bank Observatory engineer Paul Marganian who has volunteered his time to visit the class on a weekly basis to share his knowledge.
• Math teacher Chris Sutton gave a report on the SAT scores and revealed that PCHS tied with Frankfort High School as number five out of 116 in the state. Sutton added that 42 percent of the students scored in the proficiency range, which he hopes to increase in the future. The math department as a whole has its eyes set on PCHS being the number one school in the state.
• English teacher Samara Mann also shared the English/Language Arts SAT results and said the scores were lower than the state average, but she sees a change with the use of collaboration of all county English teachers. She added that the ELA coach is going to help get the scores higher.
• Graduation coach Jerry Dale gave a report on the school’s graduation rate, which he has seen improve in his time at the school. He is in the process of collecting statistics and data to compare the graduation rate through the years, as well as statistics on students who go to college, remain in school and graduate.
• Science teacher and department head Chloe Bland said things are going well in her department with two new members – Derek Trull and Shanna Carr. Bland said she was a little worried about being the department head considering she has only a few years teaching under her belt, but with the help of retired science teacher Mary Sue Burns, the trio has come together to create a cohesive department that works well.
• Forestry teacher Scott Garber introduced two of the four members of the school’s forestry team which was named National Champs at the National FFA Convention in October. Kyle Cohenour and Jacob Jones were in attendance and were presented with certificates from Governor Jim Justice. Team members Mathias Solliday and Brandon Puffenbarger will receive their certificates at a later date.
Garber added that the forestry class is continuing work on the Green Bank Observatory tree project and is making plans for a new project for a private citizen in Boyer.
• Music teacher Bob Mann addressed the board about his plans for the future. He recently joined the Army National Guard and the 249th Army Band. In order to do training, Mann said he will have to take a leave of absence beginning in April, but he is working on plans to make sure his students will finish the year without too many hiccups.
The board thanked Mann for his decision to serve his country and also thanked him for taking the initiative to make plans for his absence.
• Spanish teacher Shirlene Groseclose informed the board that plans are in motion for the next Spanish trip which will be to the Dominican Republic in 2020. Groseclose said she is especially excited about this trip because it will be a homecoming for her, as she is from the Dominican.
The board thanked the staff of PCHS for the information and for continuing to provide a great education for the county’s students.
In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:
• Community and parent volunteers for Pocahontas County Schools.
The next board meeting will be Monday, December 17, at 6 p.m., at the board of education conference room in Buckeye.