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Board Recognizes Earley For Teaching Award

By Staff | Jun 16, 2009

Pictured from left are Wetzel County Superintendent Bill Jones, Valley High School Special education teacher Kristi Earley, and VHS Principal Shawn Coen at Monday’s Wetzel County Board of Education meeting. Earley was recognized for winning the Harry Hadley Teaching Excellence Award. (Photo by Bill Abraham.

Special education teacher Kristi Earley of Valley High School was recognized for the Harry Hadley Teaching Excellence Award by Wetzel County Superintendent Bill Jones at a board of education meeting June 15.

Earley was introduced by VHS Principal Shawn Coen, who said Earley’s teaching career “the highest level of education standards that the award was intended to exemplify.”

The award is given annually to graduates of Fairmont State University in honor of FSU Professor Harry Hadley.

A representative of Scientific Learning addressed the board about the advantages of his company’s software-based FastForward reading intervention program for students in grades K-12.

Sam McCollum explained that the program does not teach content, but helps students process information more efficiently. He said the program has been documented to produce a one-to-two year increase in reading skills in eight to 12 weeks.

However, he cautioned, “It is not a silver bullet. It still requires dedicated teachers who can use it as a tool for learning.”

Jones, who noted that “a student who cannot read is in trouble,” said the initial cost of a four-year FastForward program-about $53,000 per school-would be paid from federal stimulus funds and could be sustainable thereafter.

No action was taken at the meeting to adopt the program, but Board President Mike Blair said the board would evaluate the proposal.

The board voted to approve a large number of personnel changes that included the employment of Richard L. Ochsenbein as principal of Hundred High School, effective July 17.

Ochsenbein is presently an English teacher at John Marshall High School in Glen Dale and recently completed certification in education administration from West Virginia University.

A retired U. S. Navy officer, he has 12 years experience in the education system. He also has experience in the food and beverage industry. He is married with two children.

Treasurer Jeff Lancaster reported receiving $63,528.35 in federal reimbursement funds for the six-month cost of programs for high-risk special education students. He also said the county would apply for subsequent funds for the same purpose.

Director of Ancillary Services Brian Jones updated the board on the 2008-09 maintenance program, including progress on the conversion to a keyless entry system at all school system buildings. Jones said the $230,000 conversion project, approved last year, is scheduled to be completed by the start of the 2009-10 school year.

Jones noted that the door openers under the new system will be battery-operated and therefore, not subject to failure from power outtages.

In addition to electrical, plumbing, and construction repairs or replacements to the inside and outside of school buildings, numerous SmartBoard were installed at all schools.

The board approved Union Bank as the depository for the school system for the period July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2011. Lancaster said Union met all of the lengthy criteria in bid specifications and also offered the highest variable interest rate. Union has been the depository for the past two years.

The board also approved an allocation of $12,000 to the West Virginia Cooperative Extension Service for the 2009-10 school year.

The extension office, located at the school-owned Wetzel County Center for Children and Families, provides assistance in developing children’s programs for county schools.

The following vehicles were declared as surplus property and will be sold by sealed bid: a 1992 Ford F150 4×4; 1994 GMC Jimmy 4×4; and a 1996 Ford van.

In addition, three diesel-fuel school busses will be sold in the same manner: Bus #16, a 1987 54 passenger; Bus #34, a 71-passenger vehicle, also a 1987 model; and Bus #55, a 1993, 77-passenger vehicle with no seats.

The board has scheduled one regular meeting during the month of July-the 13th-at 7 p.m. in the county office building, 333 Foundry St., New Martinsville.