Matthew Sisk
Matthew Sisk, who accepted the position as Upshur County Schools Director of Safety and Emergency Preparedness on Nov. 2, 2021. Sisk is currently working to help UCS students who want COVID-19 vaccinations get those and working with school officials to get emergency drills back on schedule. / Photo courtesy Upshur County Schools

Get to know Upshur County Schools’ new safety and emergency preparedness director Matthew Sisk

BUCKHANNON – At the Oct. 26, 2021, Upshur County Board of Education meeting held at Washington District Elementary School, BOE members voted unanimously to approve the hiring of Matthew Sisk as Upshur County Schools Director of Safety and Emergency Preparedness – a position Sisk began on Nov. 3, 2021.

Sisk, who grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia, said he was attracted to the Director of Safety and Emergency Preparedness position because he strongly believes that education is one of the most important endeavors in everyone’s lives.

“It is imperative that students and their families have a safe environment to not only learn, but to thrive on their personal journeys to greatness,” Sisk said. “Therefore, I have and will continue to dedicate my work to helping keep educational systems safe. I would add that during the interview process, I became very impressed by the research that I found regarding Upshur County and the Upshur County Board of Education and knew that I wanted to be a part of this team.”

Sisk shared his goals for the position, saying he feels one of the best methods to keep students safe is by empowering youth and their families. In addition, Sisk believes it’s key to have empowered faculty with the knowledge to be prepared for emergencies.

“I think folks need to be knowledgeable against the threats that face them,” he explained. “An example of this empowerment could be a program such as trainings for students in CPR, First Aid and the use of AEDs. It could instill a major confidence boost in the student and help them save a life.”

When asked what unique qualities he possesses which made him the best candidate for the job, Sisk said he possesses self-initiative coupled with a passion for education.

“I have an ongoing belief in not only preparation for disaster but active mitigation for disaster,” Sisk said. “I continue to self-educate regarding the latest trends in criminality and intervention strategies for those individuals who have demonstrated or may demonstrate a proclivity toward criminality.”

To Sisk, the best part of being the director of safety and emergency preparedness is getting to know the excellent students in Upshur County.

“I have had several opportunities to see the success of our students in both the classroom and on the sports fields,” Sisk said. “The other great thing that I can personally attest to is the absolute dedication of the employees of the school system. From the principals to the custodians, our staff deeply cares about the students and their success.”

He said he is here for Upshur County students and their families and said he keeps an open mind.

“I know this position to be a privilege and will approach this job that way every day,” Sisk said. “I want all the families and community partners to know that I am open to new ideas, new thoughts and I want to hear from our families.”

Sisk said he is an active member of his church youth group and has participated in several mission trips to the Appalachian region.

“I fell in love with the mountains and the people,” he said. “I went to the University of Virginia’s College at Wise to earn my bachelor’s degree and earned my Master of Science from the University of Cincinnati. Prior to working for the Upshur County Board of Education, I have worked for Glenville State College and then at Alderson Broaddus University as the director of safety and security.”

Sisk said he and his wife, Kari Sisk, have three children.

“I am blessed to be supported by the most wonderful best friend who I am so fortunate to call my wife, Kari,” he shared. “I am blessed, too, for the opportunity to be able to support Kari as the Dean of College of Humanities, Education, and Social Sciences at Alderson Broaddus University,”

Sisk and Kari have two sons, Tyler and Kameron, whom he says demonstrate a passion in both the classroom and in their sports.

“The most recent addition to our family is Jaelynne, who is now 7 months old,” he said.

Dr. Jeffery Harvey served Upshur County Schools as the first director of safety and emergency preparedness. He announced his resignation in September 2021, saying he was leaving to run his business, JH Consulting, LLC, which became increasingly busy since the start of the pandemic.

Sisk is housed in the Upshur County Board of Education Central Office, located at 102 Smithfield St. in Buckhannon, and may be contacted by telephone at 304-472-5480, ext. 1019 or by email at

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