BUCKHANNON – A group of more than 20 Upshur County Schools employees opted last January to further their knowledge and work toward completing the Paraprofessional Certification offered through the West Virginia Department of Education.
With that much interest, Upshur County School administrators assisted the group in forming a cohort to help one another through the process and serve as a support system during the process.
Donna Landin, eLearning Coordinator at the West Virginia Department of Education in Charleston, attended Tuesday’s Upshur County Board of Education meeting at Tennerton Elementary School to recognize this special group of individuals and tout them for successful completion of their goal.
Paraprofessional completers – those who worked to complete 12 courses to attain the certification – were welcomed by Landin who said it was a pleasure to recognize the paraprofessionals.
“There were 20 plus individuals who, in January 2021, started a journey and oh my goodness, what a journey it has been,” Landin said. “In order to become a paraprofessional, by WV State Code, one must complete 12 courses; those courses must equate to three credit hours each and we developed a plan for that to be completed within 12 months.”
Landin said the courses last seven weeks each, and each course has study guides, quizzes that relate to math, language arts, social studies and science. As paraprofessionals, these individuals can serve as support for classroom teachers and may substitute for a classroom teacher in the event of a vacancy.
“We had a group of more than 20 people here in Upshur County that made it through and completed these courses successfully and that journey they embarked upon 12 months ago has been met with success,” Landin said. “We are so proud of what they have accomplished and that we can be here tonight to recognize them.”
Landin said the program could not have been successful without a supportive team.
“Very unique to Upshur County is that I received a call from Upshur County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus and her staff asking if we would consider taking on a cohort from Upshur County,” Landin shared. “They asked if we had room and if it would be possible. I saw nothing wrong with that and thought it would be wonderful to have a cohort from Upshur County. Upshur County – you had the only cohort that went through that group.”
Landin said as the paraprofessional courses continue, she would tout the Upshur County cohort to the masses.
“It was a hugely successful program, and it takes a team,” Landin said. “It took the team of dedicated individuals who were determined to complete the work, the people who helped them learn to use the computers and upload the documents and everything that is involved in online courses, and it took people who believed in your cohort. Your Central Office Staff and your Superintendent were the champions of this group, and I want to congratulate them for their foresight and their belief in their employees and what they could do.”
Landin said she wanted to leave two challenges.
“The first challenge I want to leave this cohort with is, I want you to be that champion – that support system for someone who comes behind you. If that person needs help with the computer, I want you to be their champion,” Landin said. “The second and final challenge I want to leave you with is that it is a journey – it is not over. It is a journey that continues. You are not finished; you have more to learn, more to do, more to contribute. You have met a wonderful challenge and you have done great work but do not stop. Keep on seeking to learn more, keep on seeking to contribute and keep on learning.”
Stankus thanked Landin for her foresight.
“It took someone at the state level to say ‘yes,’ and when we can get a ‘yes,’ we are really happy,” Stankus said. “We opened this up to every service personnel in our county and so from our office, thank you – thank you for investing in yourself and thank you for investing the time it took to complete these college courses. We are very proud of our employees and all they have accomplished.”
Completers in the paraprofessional program recognized during Tuesday’s meeting included Terri Egress, Tennerton Elementary School; Crystal Frederick, Union Elementary School; Andrea McDaniels, Tennerton Elementary School; Beverley Miller, Buckhannon Academy Elementary School; Shelley Trader, Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School; Wilma Small, Hodgesville Elementary School; Alice Alkire, Washington District Elementary School; Samantha Bennett, Tennerton Elementary School; Sara Collins, Hodgesville Elementary School; Brenda Davis, Tennerton Elementary School; Jessica Grose, Hodgesville Elementary School; Thelma Hamner, Buckhannon-Upshur High School; Tammy Kelley, Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School; Carmela McHenry, Buckhannon Academy Elementary School; Michele Michael, Buckhannon Academy Elementary School; Joyce Morgan, Washington District Elementary School; Elaine Pugh, Upshur County Board of Education; Cynthia Reed, Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School; Monica Smith, Buckhannon-Upshur High School; Kristy Spencer, French Creek Elementary School; Cecilia Stewart, Union Elementary School; and Nikita Ware, Buckhannon Academy Elementary School.