Wetzel Board Members Want to Retain Seats
The Wetzel Chronicle at the request of Board Members Warren Grace and Bill Jones sat down for an indept interview with the pair to discuss business completed and business still to come if re-elected to their positions.
Jones and Grace are both former educators in the Wetzel County school system with Jones dedicating fifty years to Wetzel County as a teacher, prinicpal and Superintendent. Grace spent 23 years of his career in Wetzel County as a teacher and principal at Magnolia and Paden City. Mr. Grace was also elected twice to serve as the region one principal representative to the WVSSAC and was the only three time President of the Executive Board of the OVAC in the history of the conference.
In the recent interview, the Wetzel Chronicle asked the two candidates to spell out specific advances they have been a part of during their past terms as members of the B.O.E.
Both members agreed that it takes team effort to get anything accomplished, and they believe they have been effective members of the team especially when it comes to education.
Question 1. What have you done to ensure Wetzel County students are getting a quality education at the high school level and how are they prepared to enter the world after graduation?
“We have restored an education norm in all schools, maintaining that all students are important and can learn. We work hard on school climate, leadership, morale and accountability,” said Warren Grace. “As a result of that, our county has the highest levy approval rate ever! Nearly 90 percent for the county.”
Question 2. What about our school facilities? Where do we stand as a county compared to other counties in the state?
“Well to start with we maintain eight schools, and with the Wetzel County Vocational/Techinal Center we now have nine. With that being said, let me say we have been successful in keeping all of our community schools open and vibrant,” said Bill Jones.
Both candidates added there have been continual facility improvement at all the schools. “Since we took office, many security measures have taken place. Our school grounds are very secure and we have PRO officers in every high school, with services available to the elementary and middle schools as well.”
“We have supported and been a part of seeing improvements to Athletic facilities throughout the county along with playground improvements and upgrades at the elementary school. And we are continually working to make sure are schools are totally handicapped accessible.”
“Compared to other counties, we are very competitive. Again we are able to continue operating four high schools, while most counties are down to one or two. We believe this is a plus for us and gives the students a better one on one relationship with their teachers.”
Question 3. What do you consider your greatest accomplishment since becoming Board of Education Members in 2016?
“Without a doubt it has been the re-opening of the Wetzel County Vocational/Technical. Currently the WCVT offers welding, electrical construction and nursing, and these are available to all Wetzel County Students,” said Grace.
“Adult evening courses are also available thru a collaboration agreement with WVNCC,” added Jones.
Question 4. Besides regular required classes and the regular school setting, what additional services do our schools provide and do you support them?
“That is something we are proud of. We have school nurses, social workers, math and reading coaches, school psychologists and again the PRO’S at or available in all schools, ” said Jones. “And one thing to add, we not only support these programs and positions, we are always looking for more ways to help our students.”
“An example of that is one on one computer initiative has been continued and was recently enhanced with new devices for all Wetzel County Students,” explained Grace.
Question 5. Where does Wetzel County stand when it comes to academic improvement?
“Well it’s an ongoing endevor. We have seen improvement in statewide testing scores. An increased number of Promise Scholars at each high school and an increase in STEM activities,” said Grace.
“Also we have student advisory at each high school and they keep our superintendent and staff, including the high school principals, abreast of current perceived needs on the part of the students,” added Jones.
Question 6. What plans if any do you have for the next four years if re-elected as Board Members?
“We are not finished and that is exactly why we want to continue as Board Members. One of our goals for Wetzel County Schools is to continue adding programs of learning skills at the WCTEC. There are many options, but we want it to be a place where technical skills can be developed to the highest degree, so our kids can come out of there and enter directly into the workforce, while making a good living for themselves and their families,” said Mr. Grace.
“We are looking at programs like HVAC, Gas Operation Curriculum, Chemical Operation Curriculum, Diesel Mechanics, Entrepreneurship training, Design Thinking, Social/Emotional Leaning and Small Engine Repair, just to name a few,” added Mr Jones.
They also said they would like to continue the community school approach to educational services available for our students. Four County High Schools, Four Elementary/Middle Shools and one County Vo-Tech Facility.
“We believe there is much more to be accomplished. We want to expand the STEM/STEAM opportunities for our students to include middle school students. We want each high school to be aware of what is happening in all of the Wetzel County Schools.”
“We want to improve our counseling services to ensure student success. To ensure that all stakeholders are committed to the basic tenant to “Do what’s best for the kids.”
“Accountabillity to this task must be attained by all school employees, and that successful student futures (“What’s best for Kids”) drives all school and county level decisions,” stated Grace and Jones.
Warren Grace earned his undergraduate degree and two masters degrees from WestVirginia University, he began his career in public schools in 1975 and retired as a full time teacher/pricipal in 2010.
Bill Jones earned his undergraduate degree from Fairmont State College and his post graduate degree in Education Administration from West Virginia University. He began his teaching career in 1964 in Wetzel County and continued serving the county for 50 years.