In this file photo, outgoing Upshur County Board of Education member Alan Suder (far left) speaks at during a dedication ceremony at Hodgesville Elementary School.

Alan Suder reflects on 12-year tenure on the Upshur County Board of Education

BUCKHANNON – After proudly serving as a member of the Upshur County Board of Education for more than a decade, Alan M. Suder recently announced that he will not be running for re-election in the upcoming June 9, 2020 election.

My Buckhannon recently sat down with Suder to reflect on his decade serving as a BOE member.

During his 12-year tenure, Suder served on the BOE as vice president for several years. He also was a BOE representative for the Hall of Fame Committee, the Upshur County Parks and Recreation Board and as a member of the Fred W. Eberle Technical Center Advisory Board.

As a BOE member, Suder has pushed to make sure students receive varied types of learning – including one non-traditional learning opportunity. For many years, Suder asked that the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Hunter Education Safety Courses be offered in Upshur County Schools, and that push became a reality for Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School Students this year. The DNR Hunter Education Program was offered after school and more than 35 students took advantage of the 10-hour program.

During that time, Suder said he was “extremely excited to get the classes going so students could commence learning about hunting, fishing, outdoorsmanship and safety.” He added as an elected official, he has always listened to the Upshur County citizens’ concerns and prides himself on being an advocate and voice for the community – and strongly believes the program needs to be offered to Upshur County students.

Board member Alan Suder, at left, and board member Greenbrier Almond during a recent Upshur County Board of Education meeting at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School.

“Our children need the experience of outdoor shooting sports, hunting, fishing and safe gun handling practices,” Suder said.

Initially, Suder said the idea of running for the Upshur County Board of Education came to him as a way to give back to his community while he was a parent volunteer at his children’s elementary school.

“I participated in activities and fundraisers at Academy Primary Elementary School, which has since been consolidated into Buckhannon Academy Elementary School,” he said. “While there, I saw first-hand many concerns our school system was facing. I felt that I could be a voice and representative for many and help to continue making Upshur County Schools the best they could be.”

Suder said his decision not to run for a fourth term was not easy.

“I am so thankful that the citizens of Upshur County believed in me enough to elect me and re-elect me as an Upshur County BOE member,” Suder said, adding that during his 12 years, he feels Upshur County schools have had so many great things happen.

“During these 12 years, three things that have impacted me the most are building up community trust for the importance of education, facility maintenance and renovations and passing of levies to continue supporting our schools,” Suder said.

Three obstacles Suder said the BOE continues to face include recruiting and maintaining qualified teachers and staff members, securing financial needs without putting burdens on taxpayers and making community members aware that local BOE members have limited powers and must abide by state laws and regulations.
Suder represents the fourth generation of Suders who have been raised in Upshur County. He has been a private business owner for 29 years and is employed by EQT Corporation. He also maintains a family farm.

“I am a member of the South Buckhannon Mission Church and the Breath of God Worship Service at The Way of Holiness,” Suder said. “I graduated from B-UHS and eared five certifications/licenses through Fred W. Eberle Technical Center.”

He said education plays a big part of his life. Suder and wife Christy, who is an Upshur County School teacher, have four children.

“We have four children – two attended Fred W. Eberle Technical Center,” he said. “Adam is employed as a licensed practical nurse and Alex is a mechanic/welder. Two of our children are continuing their degrees in higher education – Addison is completing a master’s degree in rhetoric and writing, and Riley will be graduating with a criminology degree next spring.”

Suder has some advice for anyone joining the Upshur County BOE in the future.

“God gave us two ears and one mouth – listen twice as much as you speak,” he said. “As a board member, we need to always listen to the concerns of our community and school personnel. We need to be available and open to all and help their voice be heard. Hot heads and cold hearts never solve anything – stay calm, show compassion, use common sense and make level-headed decision.”

Suder said when his term as an Upshur County BOE comes to an end, he hopes all Upshur County residents will remember him by three simple words: faith, family and fairness.

“I would ask for continued prayers for our schools and our community,” Suder added.

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