BUCKHANNON – Upshur County School Administrators and Board of Education Members recognized four individuals for their service and dedication during Tuesday’s BOE meeting – McKenzie Reynolds, Jim Johnson, Erin Anderson and Stephanie Bennett.
Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus said she would like to first recognize a Buckhannon-Upshur High School Student who has lent a hand during the entire pandemic experience.
“She has volunteered her time, not because she had to, but because she wanted to,” Stankus said. “We aspire to have all of our students give back to the community, so tonight it is our pleasure to ask Mr. Eddie Vincent to recognize this student.”
Vincent said one of the priorities since March has been to ensure Upshur County children are adequately fed.
“We have had to have a lot of help to do that,” Vincent said. “We have had teachers, principals and students, and one that has been there every week – McKenzie Reynolds. Her parents have been through this all the way, too. If you have not been to the warehouse, you may not understand the effort that goes into this.”
Vincent said there have been different sports teams and clubs who came to help with distributing food, all of whom commented they did not realize how much work goes into the food distribution.
“It’s warm out, and you have to carry a lot of items, but McKenzie Reynolds has been doing that every week – along with her sports teams – but even when she didn’t have to be there,” Vincent said. “She is an Upshur Star.”
Stankus and Vincent then presented McKenzie with an Upshur Star recognition.
“I want to thank my dad for encouraging me to go each week,” McKenzie said.
Stankus invited the Upshur County Teacher of the Year Erin Anderson and Upshur County Service Personnel of the Year Stephanie Bennett to deliver a message of hope. She said this is the first year Upshur County has had employees in the top five vying for both Teacher and Service Personnel of the Year at the state level.
Anderson said she is overwhelmed and excited to represent Upshur County.
“One of my most favorite parts of this process has been the outpouring of support in the community and the congratulatory messages I have received in person at Walmart and the walk trail,” Anderson said. “My daughter thinks I am famous. I am getting cards and I received a hand-written message from one of my most favorite former students.”
Anderson said she prays the application she submitted for West Virginia Teacher of the Year and her interview shows a true picture of who she is.
“Teaching is not following a script or teaching to a test,” Anderson said. “Teaching is not policies or your political stance; students don’t care about that. Teaching is an art form. Teaching is connections. Teaching is personal, and I hope to make you proud.”
Bennett said she feels the key to success is giving 110 percent each day.
“If I am given a job, I’m going to do it and give 110 percent,” Bennett said. “I was encouraged by my colleagues to apply for the West Virginia State Service Personnel of the Year, and I never believed I would be there, let alone in the top five.”
Bennett encouraged her peers, friends, colleagues and family members to never give up.
“Be inspired to dream more,” Bennett said. “Learn more; do more. Take everyday challenges head on – there is always tomorrow. Always give your all. One day you may just meet your own expectations.”
The final person recognized was longtime cross-country coach Jim Johnson.
“Upshur County Schools is pleased to recognize James Johnson for his 50 years of service as an athletic coach – a journey that began in 1971,” TSS/communication specialist Kayla Yocum read aloud. “His career ends but his legacy remains.”
Yocum said Johnson shared his knowledge and expertise with athletes in basketball, track and cross-country. She said he brought cross-country to Buckhannon-Upshur High School.
“Those under his guidance have advanced to collegiate athletics and some have taken on the role of coaching themselves,” Yocum said.
Johnson received a plaque commemorating his service and dedication.
“I hope the new coach has good material to work with,” Johnson said. “I hope whoever gets the job will continue to do the best they can. Thank you!”
Next, Stankus introduced the three new staff members taking the helm at Buckhannon-Upshur High School, including Principal Jonathon Pollock, Assistant Principal Tracy Fluharty-Godfrey and Assistant Principal Samantha Leput.
Godfrey said she came from Harrison County and finds everyone to be extremely helpful.
“Everyone has been welcoming during my transition,” Godfrey said. “I am really looking forward to working with this great staff and community, especially during this year because it will be extremely challenging, but it will be an experience to remember. Thank you for bringing me on board.”
Leput said she is making her way back home by way of Mineral County.
“I am originally from Buckhannon,” Leput said. “It has been a real good time so far and working together we are going to have an awesome year.”
Pollock said he came from Monongalia County School System and is excited to be in Upshur County.
“This is probably the warmest welcome I have received at any place I have ever worked,” Pollock said. “Thank you all very much. I am looking forward to working with this team. We have gelled already, and we are looking forward to a great year.”
Also, during Tuesday’s meeting BOE members took the following actions:
- Voted unanimously to approve the superintendent’s recommendations for personnel including retirements and resignations, transfers and employment.
- Discussed the New Community Church Property adjacent to B-UHS. The BOE has the first right of refusal on the property; however, the property is under contract. Treasurer/business manager Jeffrey Perkins said the agriculture department at the high school does not need any extra property.
- Voted unanimously to approve a memorandum of understanding for student teachers with Potomac State and Glenville State Colleges.
- Voted unanimously to approve a new fuel dispensing system which is up to date.
- Voted unanimously – minus Vice President Katie Loudin who recused herself – to accept the resignation of Katie Loudin as a member of the Upshur County Parks and Recreation Advisor Board and voted for two new members, Julia Kastner and Rachel Weber.
BOE members also discussed ventilation in Upshur County Schools. Facilities Director Tim Derico said six schools that have 100 percent air draw from outside all the time.
“We are dictated by some of the systems already in place,” Derico said. “Some of the older models were not equipped for any outside air. There are different scenarios in each facility.”
Derico said there are products out there that can service one room, but they are high-cost pieces of equipment right now. He said he would check with the makers to see how high the filtration systems can go without affecting the efficiency.
The next Upshur County BOE meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020 at Buckhannon Academy Elementary School.