Board members honor life, service of longtime Upshur County Schools employee Kermit Pugh

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Upshur County Board of Education members honor the memory of custodian Kermit Pugh during Tuesday’s meeting at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School. Members of Pugh’s family received a plaque honoring him for 32 years of dedicated service. During lunchtime over the past several weeks, B-UMS students paid tribute to Pugh by writing their memories of Pugh and what he’d meant to them. The book was presented to his wife, Edna, during Tuesday’s board meeting.

TENNERTON – A longtime employee of the Upshur County Schools system was honored during Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School.

The family of Kermit Pugh, a custodian at B-UMS who spent more than three decades employed with Upshur County Schools, gathered to pay tribute to Pugh.

“Kermit was my occupational spouse,” B-UMS Principal Renee Warner said, laughing. “I have said many times to my staff that all I would have to say was, ‘Oh, we need to do this, or we didn’t do this, or this has to happen.’ Before I knew it, he had it done.”

Warner said when Pugh heard stress in her voice on their school radio, he was at her office with a Diet Coke in hand.

“He meant so much, not only to me, but to all of our students and our staff,” Warner said. “Our students asked to do a memorial for him, and it sits in the back of our room today. For the last two weeks, it was out at lunchtime for the kids to write in a book that we are going to turn over to Edna (Edna Pugh, Kermit’s wife) this evening.”

Warner said Pugh was priceless to students, teachers and staff at B-UMS.

“We feel we have lost him as part of our family. I can’t imagine the grief, but I can at the same time,” Warner said. “He was just our very best. Thank you for giving him to us while we had him.”

Upshur County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus said all the students and staff knew Pugh.

“There is not a staff member in the county that did not know the name Kermit Pugh,” Stankus said. “He wasn’t just a custodian at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School – he was at every athletic event. If anyone was ever needed to cover a game, he was there.”

Then, Stankus and board members presented plaques to members of Pugh’s family.

Board vice president Katie Loudin read the inscription on the plaque: “Kermit Pugh, Upshur County School Employee, 32 years of dedicated service.” Another plaque was presented to Warner to hang at B-UMS.

Following the plaque presentation, everyone gathered at B-UMS observed a moment of silence in honor of Pugh.

In other school system news, Stankus announced B-UMS had received a grant that Warner wrote.
“She worked very had on that grant this summer,” Stankus said. “It is called ‘The Life Skills Training Program.’ She will be announcing the grant at a later time. We are very excited about this program designed specifically for middle school students.”

Loudin announced the B-UHS cast of “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” took first place at the regional Thespians competition yesterday.

“Shawnte McWhorter and Richard Williams were named to the All Festival Cast, and Elizabeth O’Neal was one of two named best actor at the festival. Congratulations to them as they prepare to go on to the next level of competition,” Loudin said.

The next order of business on the board agenda was the first public hearing on the calendar for the 2019-2020 school year.

Tim Derico, director of facilities and curriculum, said the committee is still working on the proposed calendar, which was presented only as a draft. He said the proposed calendar is very similar to the current 2018-2019 school calendar.

“We did take into consideration the concerns of the staff with the first week of school,” Derico said. “This would bring all students to school on a Wednesday, so we would have school for three days before the weekend. That gives schools the opportunity to iron out any scheduling issues they might have and gives time for students and teachers to get into a routine and then the weekend to recoup.”

Derico said the proposed start date would be Aug. 14 for students. Upshur County Schools is planning the calendar in conjunction with Barbour, Lewis, Gilmer and Calhoun counties because of sharing a technical center.

“This affords for the week of Thanksgiving, and it affords for the time off at Christmas,” he said. “Teaching staff would be coming back on Jan. 3, 2020, but students will not start back until Jan. 6, 2020. Students will be off from Dec. 20, 2019 until Jan. 6, 2020. That is a long break. Also, this has students ending school on May 22 – the Friday before Memorial Day.”

Stankus offered her thanks to the community for passing the school levy.

“We just want to say thank you to our community, and all they did to pass the levy,” she said. “We feel it has been a great show of support for our schools and what we are doing here. I just want to publicly say how much we appreciate the voters and the community for their support. We do not take this trust lightly – we take this relationship very seriously, and we will do everything we can to continue meeting their expectations for improving our system. Thank you again. We are very excited about the levy passage.”

Also, during Tuesday’s board meeting, members voted unanimously to approve the following personnel recommendations:

Resignations
-Vickie M. Dean as substitute secretary, effective Jan. 10, 2019.

-Correction – date of resignation for Brian Williams, Jan. 2, 2019. (Did not report to work.)

Employment, pending appropriate certifications and background check
-Derek Crihfield as volunteer assistant girls lacrosse coach at B-UMS, effective Jan. 23, 2019.

-Todd Lane as volunteer coach for the Buckhannon-Upshur Baseball Team for the 2019 baseball season.

-Christina Waybright as itinerant gifted teacher at Buckhannon Academy Elementary School, effective 2019-2020 academic year.

-Christina Figueroa as itinerant special education aide at Union Elementary School, effective Jan. 23, 2019.

-Substitute bus drivers, effective Jan. 23, 2019: Ronnie Wayne Jackson; Joseph Franklin Howard; Stephen Christopher Cutright; and Doug Anthony Wiant.

-Amy Kelley as cook II at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School, effective Jan. 23, 2019.

Request leave without pay
-Brandon Williams, itinerant music teacher for Upshur County and assistant swim coach at WVWC to attend Mountain East Conference Championship swim meet in Canton, Ohio, Feb. 12-15.

Request for leave with pay
-Jeffrey Webb, Feb. 4-25.

Request from Glenville State College for Internship
-Jesse “Austin” Broussard, music education pre-k – adult with Jeremiah Smallridge and Garret Friend, March 19 to May 9.

The next Upshur County Board of Education meeting is slated for 6 p.m. Feb. 12 at Buckhannon Academy Elementary School.