Upshur BOE President Dr. Tammy Samples presents outgoing Upshur County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus with her own super-sized star during Stankus's last board meeting Aug. 23. / All photos by Beth Christian Broschart

A special edition of Upshur Stars puts Stankus, Harrison, Frashure and other sparkling standouts in the limelight

TENNERTON – Upshur County Board of Education met in regular session Tuesday, and dedicated teachers, students, volunteers and administrators were recognized for going over and above to make Upshur County Schools the best they can be as they educate the youth and teens of Upshur County.

Shannon Lewis, principal at Hodgesville Elementary School, said she returned to head the Hodgesville Elementary School team after working three years in a different county.

“Coming back to the county with a transition to a principal role, it was critical for me to have some amazing, supportive staff to help that change happen,” Lewis shared. “The members of my leadership team helped make that transition seamless. The camaraderie and willingness everyone has at that school to make things happen and get things rolling is why I wanted to recognize the team.”

Lewis then recognized Skylar Clevenger, Title I teacher; Taylor Tenney, pre-K teacher; Kayla Belt, special education teacher; and Jason Piacente, physical education teacher. Elizabeth Anderson, fourth-grade teacher, was recognized but was not present at the meeting.

Upshur County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus presented Lewis and her leadership team with Upshur Stars for their work at Hodgesville Elementary School.

Eddie Vincent, director of child nutrition and wellness, acknowledged volunteers from the Buckhannon-Upshur High School LEO Club and the Gauley River Boys including Michael Meadows, Ellanora Hines and Tiffany Board. Vincent the groups perform community service for Upshur County Schools and said they are good examples for the community.

“They schedule with Tim Derico in the schools and paint the lines on the parking lots and do other volunteer work,” Vincent said.

Meadows said the Gauley River Boys is a nonprofit organization that hosts two major fundraising events throughout the year.

“Our main goal is suicide prevention and we offer a scholarship for a senior who is going in the state to study criminal justice,” Meadows said. “The LEO club focuses on community service. When LEO club members graduate, they average 50 to 60 hours of community service hours.”

“We really appreciate their work, and they raise a lot of money for our students,” Vincent said. “I think we can expand on some of the volunteer work they do. We really appreciate them.”

Next, Upshur County of Board of Education members recognized Douglas Frashure who was honored for 39 years of service. Frashure was the Director of Special Education for Upshur County Schools and retired with the hopes of spending more time with his grandchildren.

“Only 39 years of service,” Vincent said, laughing. “I had the pleasure of getting to know Doug a long time ago and he is one of the best guys I know. I judge that by how he treats students and kids and what he would do for them. He is a first-class guy, and I am sure he is looking forward to some downtime.”

Frashure said the decision to retire was one of the toughest ones he has had to make.

“I love working with the kids and I missed the kids as I began moving up in administration in the board office,” Frashure said. “I am looking forward to spending time with my grandkids – I have five grandkids in three different states. This will allow us to spend a few days with them.”

Stankus said when Frashure came to her and said he had decided to retire following 39 years of service, he told her that he had just come back from a weekend with his grandchildren and he had not wanted to come home this time.

“It was that which really changed his mind and we offer him our congratulations,” Stankus said.

Upshur County Board of Education members gathered with Frashure, Stankus and Assistant Superintendent of Upshur County Schools Dr. Debra Harrison as they presented him with a plaque and an Upshur Star.

Stankus asked Harrison to come forward and presented her with a certificate of appreciation.

“In sincere gratitude for serving as the Assistant Superintendent of Upshur County Schools alongside of me,” Stankus read. “We have done some pretty serious evening out. She always tells me I took her from her cushy job in higher education and brought her to the front lines of public education. Thank you so much for being my partner and my mentor as the Upshur County Schools Assistant Superintendent, now serving as the Interim Superintendent of Upshur County Schools. Thank you, so much.”

Members of the board gathered for a photo with Stankus and Harrison.

Upshur County Board of Education President Dr. Tammy Samples said Tuesday was Stankus’s last meeting as Superintendent of Schools before she heads off to Charleston to serve as the Deputy Superintendent of West Virginia Schools.

“We are going to present her with her very own Upshur Star,” Samples said, as she bestowed a large Upshur Star to Stankus. “We appreciate your dedication.”

“I have said so many things in the last week, but most of what I want you to hear is thank you – thank you for your support, thank you for going alongside the work for kids, thank you for caring about our students, thank you for caring for each other – those things are so important because, truly, in all of this work, it is a calling,” Stankus said. “This work of educating children is a calling. Alongside the children are their families and all families are so different – they act differently and they have different needs. I admire our people and I admire our families. I love this community. I take you with me in my heart and I will be serving you – just from a different place.”

The Directors of Upshur County Schools came forward and Facilities Director Tim Derico spoke saying there was a lot of hard work in the business of education.

“We want you to know we never saw you shy away from the hard work and dedication it took to do the job,” Derico said of Stankus, and presented her with a plaque from the Upshur County Schools Directors.

“Thank you all, so much,” Stankus said.

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