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Upshur County Board of Education taps Daya Wright to fill Long’s unexpired term

BUCKHANNON – A local attorney will join the Upshur County Board of Education following a special meeting Friday.

The Upshur County Board of Education voted unanimously to select Daya Wright after meeting in a special session Friday afternoon to interview five candidates. Each candidate had submitted a letter of interest expressing their interest in filling the vacancy on the Upshur County BOE left following the resignation of Patrick Long.

Long submitted his resignation Sept. 1, 2022, stating he was resigning immediately due to family obligations that required his attention.

During the Upshur County BOE meeting on Sept. 13, BOE President Dr. Tammy Samples told members she had talked with West Virginia School Board Association Executive Director Dr. Howard O’Cull regarding the vacancy, and she shared the BOE had to meet two requirements in their selection process: first, that the new BOE member had to be named within 45 days, and two, the replacement had to live within District 2 or 3 because that’s what area Long represented.

The BOE accepted letters of interest from the community through Sept. 30, 2022, and interviewed the five interested people during the special session on Friday, Oct. 7, 2022, before naming Wright as the newest Upshur County Board of Education member.

Following an extended executive session during which the interviews were conducted, BOE Vice-President Jan Craig made a motion to appoint Wright to the BOE and the motion received a second by BOE member Sherry Dean. The motion to appoint Wright to the unexpired term of Patrick Long was approved unanimously.

Craig read a statement that said, “After considerable deliberation with five very qualified candidates, the board has selected Daya Wright to fill the unexpired term of Pat Long which will end on June 30, 2024.”

Upshur BOE members, from left, Sherry Dean, President Dr. Tammy Samples, Vice-President Jan Craig and Roy Wager, announce their selection during a special meeting Friday. / Photo by Beth Christian Broschart

Samples said that this is never an easy process.

“It does help when you have a field of qualified candidates,” Samples said. “All of them were very willing to step in and help the students and employees of Upshur County Schools. We can’t ask for more than that.”

In a phone interview with Wright, she said she wanted to be on the BOE because, for more than 20 years, she has worked behind the scenes with the Upshur County BOE.

“I have provided behind-the-scenes support for 20 years at all seven elementary schools, the middle school and the high school,” Wright said. “I regularly communicated with administration, teachers, and counselors and attended career days talking about Hanukkah, talking about the Holocaust. In a variety of ways, I have always been in the school system and quite honestly, I had preferred to be behind the scenes.”

Wright said she takes phone calls, interprets court orders and has been as quietly helpful as possible.

“But with Pat’s inability to finish his term, it seemed like an opportunity to honor him by being more overt in my connection with the school system,” Wright said. “Hopefully, I can be of assistance in front of the scenes instead of behind the scenes.”

Wright is an attorney in Buckhannon, and she’s lived here since 1998. She said her husband graduated from Upshur County Schools in 1986, her son graduated from Upshur County Schools in 2018 and her daughter is currently a Freshman at Buckhannon-Upshur High School.

“While I am not a Buckhannon native, this is my home by choice,” she said. “I think what I can bring to the Upshur County BOE is that I am a parent on the ground. We bring a really nice combination.”

Wright said she is interested in filling Upshur County Schools with credentialed, qualified, well-compensated and appropriately appreciated staff and teachers.

“I know our county has focused on the structure issue we have, and it is quite significant,” she said, “but really great teachers can teach in subpar buildings. I am really anxious to address that our teachers, staff and administrators want to be here because this county is full of promise, and we are all responsible for making sure that our kids reach their full potential.”

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