BUCKHANNON – The top three candidates for Upshur County Schools Superintendent position had the opportunity to introduce themselves to the Buckhannon-Upshur community and answer questions submitted by local residents Wednesday evening.
The community forum gave folks the opportunity to meet the top candidates and learn about their backgrounds and future plans should they be selected to fill the job.
Upshur County Board of Education President Dr. Tammy Samples said board members hosted the public forum because they know people in Upshur County want to be included in the process.
“They will get to know a little bit about the people, and this was an opportunity to do that,” Samples said before Wednesday’s forum. “Because of the time frame we were under to select a superintendent, we were not sure having the forum would be possible, but we received several messages from residents asking for the public forum again, so we made it happen.”
Samples said the public forum allowed people to hear the candidates’ answers to questions related to what goes on in the schools each day.
“It also allows us as a board to see the candidates in a different setting, rather than us in an interview with the candidates,” she said.
The candidates for the Upshur County Schools Superintendent include Christina Bailey, Russ Collett and Jeremy Pyle, who each told about themselves before answering questions submitted by the public. The public forum was led by Buckhannon-Upshur High School Youth Leadership Association members who read the questions to candidates who each had three minutes to answer. The order of candidates rotated with each question.
Candidates for the Upshur County Schools Superintendent position introduced themselves.
Jeremy Pyle is the current director of Special Education and director of Transportation for Webster County Schools.
“I am six credit hours away from having my doctorate from Marshall University – hopefully that will be the next consecutive semesters, depending on job responsibilities and potential change in those responsibilities,” Pyle said.
Christina Bailey, the director of Special Education, Early Childhood and Professional Support Personnel, said she was excited to meet folks and be a part of the forum.
“I am currently in Braxton County, and I am the Special Education, Early Childhood and Professional Support Personnel Director, and I have been in that role for seven years,” Bailey said. “I thoroughly enjoy my work there. I work with pre-school programs and also am the director of Head Start.”
Bailey said they had accomplished several important goals in Braxton County Schools.
“I am student-centered, and I would like to keep that as my focus,” Bailey shared. “Prior to that, I worked for the Department of Education as a professional learning coordinator, and in that role, I traveled the state to look at best practices in schools – not looking for things people were doing wrong, but looking for things that educators were doing right, and then presenting those as a ‘best practices’ notebook.”
Bailey said she previously served as a principal at the middle and elementary school levels.
“I am a graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College and received my master’s from North Carolina Central University in Durham, where I lived several years after college,” Bailey said.
Russ Collett is the director of Facilities/Maintenance, Transportation and the Safe Schools Coordinator in Barbour County Schools. Collett said he felt it an honor to be at the candidate forum.
“I feel privileged to be here with my colleagues; we have had the opportunity to help children every day, and that is why we do what we do,” Collett said. “I am from Randolph County originally and attended Shepherd College to play football and to get my education. From there, my wife decided she wanted to be a chiropractor, and we moved to Georgia about the time ‘No Child Left Behind’ came out, and the training was immense. We spent five years down there and moved back to be closer to grandparents.”
Following that, Collett said he spent five years in the Northern Virginia area but then decided he wanted to come home.
“I was fortunate to move back to Randolph County and worked at Tygarts Valley High School and at the persuasion of Terry George, who constantly hounded me, became a principal,” Collett said. “I have worked at the elementary, middle school and high school levels, and I am pretty proud of what we accomplished at all those levels.”
Collett said when he left Elkins High School, they had won an award for attendance and had moved up in the academic rankings in the state to number 14.
“Everywhere I have been, we have been able to be successful in that format, trying to make sure that our kids have the best opportunities possible once they leave us,” Collett said. “I am the Director of Transportation and Maintenance and the Safe Schools Coordinator for Barbour County Schools. We have a wonderful superintendent there, and he has encouraged me to reach out in this manner as well.”
Questions from the public were collected prior to Wednesday’s forum and were posed by the YLA students. Watch a live stream of Wednesday’s Upshur County Schools Superintendent Candidate Forum here to see how each candidate answered the questions.
Samples said the board of education planned to meet in a special meeting Thursday to discuss the Superintendent hiring, and it may announce the new superintendent during Tuesday’s Upshur County Board of Education meeting regular meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 9 in Buckhannon-Upshur High School’s auditorium.