Toman Looks Forward To New School Year
Wetzel County’s new superintendent, Ed Toman, appears to know no strangers.
Of course, this could be attributed to the fact that Toman, himself, hails from the Ohio Valley. Yet, he has been gone from the county for several years, most recently acting as Ritchie County’s superintendent. No one would blame Toman if he were quietly focused as he becomes adjusted to his new role over Wetzel County’s schools.
This doesn’t at all seem to be Toman’s style however. He is optimistic and energetic. He’s welcoming, and he’s ready to make himself at home, once more.
In a recent letter to administrators, teachers, and staff, Toman noted that “it is with great enthusiasm that I look forward to meeting and working with each of you.” There is no doubt that Toman is driven, enthusiastic, perhaps the best word to describe him.
“I think just making this office welcoming, and everybody being caring adults for kids … that is our main objective,” he said.
Toman operates on an open-door policy at his office, which is already adorned with family photos, certificates of achievement, humorous signage (Teacher’s Motto: When All Else Fails…Pray For a Fire Drill!), and a medal attached to a purple ribbon.
“I’m a cancer survivor,” Toman said of the latter mentioned token. He remarked that his cancer is not curable – he takes medication daily – yet, he proudly stated that he is controlling it, beating it.
Perhaps part of Toman’s strategy is to always be moving forward and looking ahead. When asked about the past year’s difficulties within Wetzel County Schools – disputes over testing between former superintendent Leatha Williams and educators – Toman noted that it is important to get the facts out and move forward. “I think anytime you come as a new superintendent – and like I said, I’ve moved from a couple of counties – everytime you have something new it is refreshing. Change is difficult… Turmoil… anything can happen with a tough decision or comment. It can change the atmosphere of the environment. You try to move forward, get the facts out and what the truth is, and move forward. You know, that’s the past. I don’t look backwards.”
“Life is too short to hold grudges and negativity,” he said.
Toman, when asked, remarked that one of the biggest difficulties he is currently facing is selling his home in Pennsboro and having to currently commute to New Martinsville.
Yet, he isn’t letting the commute slow him down by any means. He has already met with the school system’s nine directors. Toman is very team-oriented, praising each of the directors, complimenting Treasurer Jeff Lancaster, and noting that Secretary Jo Beth Simmons is a “wonderful, classy lady.”
Toman explained that he didn’t want to fail to mention anyone.
As superintendent, one of Toman’s goals is to be visible, to be seen in each of the county’s schools. Toman has already visited each of the areas of the county. He described how Tammy Wells, director of secondary and vocational education, gave him a tour of the Pine Grove, Reader, Jacksonburg, and Folsom areas.
Daniel Gottron, Hundred High School’s principal, provided Toman with a tour of the Hundred and Littleton area.
“We ate at Miss Blue’s Restaurant in Hundred, ” Toman noted, adding that he ate at the Valley Diner while in Pine Grove.
When asked what he admires about each of the areas of Wetzel County, Toman complimented each area’s pride in itself, family-togetherness, and the work ethic each area possesses.
Toman will again, soon, ride the roads and ridges of Wetzel County. Another goal of his is to ride each of the county’s school busses, giving him the opportunity to get to know the bus drivers.
“I’ve done that everywhere I’ve been,” he said. “You see certain things…. the great characteristics they have, the leadership of being a bus driver.”
The new superintendent is also prepared for any negative situations that might come his way.
“You always have to make tough decisions, and those tough decisions sometimes make people upset,” he said. “Those are difficult situations, but that is what you do as an educational leader. Sometimes you have to make decisions that aren’t popular.”
However, Toman noted the ultimate goal for all stakeholders to keep in mind.
“When we are happy and taking care of kids, and teaching and learning is going on… that is our job.”
He also remarked on his “open door policy. “”I think there will be some issues where we will agree to disagree, but I think we will move forward. What we are doing, is it based on what is best for kids? I think that is what you have to make every decision based on. I think every time we have a meeting, you take care of what is best for kids.”
Toman also hopes to have the opportunity to hear from the students. He explained that he plans on starting a student advisory committee, made up of students in each of the four high schools.
Until then, Toman’s message to each student of Wetzel County is the following: “I can’t wait to meet them,” he said. “I want the kids to know who I am.”