Buckhannon-Upshur High School

BUCKHANNON – Throughout the year, the Upshur County Board of Education issues job vacancies/postings for needed personnel throughout the school system and many folks take notice, especially because the Upshur County School System is one of the largest employers in the county.

A particular professional job listing included on the June 26, 2019 summary caused some folks to ask themselves just what one of those postings was about.

Dr. Tammy Samples, Upshur County BOE president, said the posting in question – dean of students at Buckhannon-Upshur High School – is designed to help with counseling responsibilities at the high school.

“Currently, some of the responsibilities of the high school counselors are administrative type duties – scheduling, transcript analysis and virtual school,” Samples said. “Sometimes, this limits the amount of actual counseling they can perform. The notion for the Dean of Students is to shift some of those administrative tasks to one person in order to free the other counselors to deal with mental health needs of our student body.”

The job summary for the dean of students says “a high school dean of students is an education professional who is responsible for the academic progress of students. They promote good attendance rates and ensure school safety and prevention of campus violence. Additionally, the Dean supports the teaching staff by developing classroom management programs, identifying students with attendance issues or disciplinary problems and addresses those issues with parents to creative a positive outcome.”

It goes on to list responsibilities including working with counselors and tutors to establish development plans for students struggling academically; implementing strategies to motivate and inspire students to succeed and stay in school; assisting in organizing transition programs for students entering or leaving the school; and assisting in the placement of students in appropriate classes, electives and alternative education programs.

Qualifications include a valid teaching certificate, licensure in educational leadership or documented experience in leadership roles and the ability to pass a criminal background check. The posting says preference will be given to an individual one who holds a master’s degree in guidance and counseling or work focused on academic achievement and success.

Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus, superintendent of Upshur County Schools, said the position is designed to help the counselors at B-UHS while being an integral part of the counseling team.

“It is going to be focused on mental health and academic achievement at the high school,” Stankus said Tuesday. “The counselors can do more counseling with students – the dean of students will pick up the academic piece the counselors were normally handling.”

Assistant Superintendent of Upshur County Schools Dr. Debra Harrison said the position is not really a new one.

“It is really a redesigned position,” Harrison said. “We had three counselors at the high school previously. Now, we will have two counselors and the dean of students. The dean of students, like Dr. Stankus said, will be the individual who focuses on academics – making sure the students are meeting all of the criteria for graduation, that they are doing the things they need to do with colleges and furthering their education, whether that be with technical education after they graduate. The dean of students will allow the counselors to focus more on the working directly with students.”

Harrison said some of the roles and responsibilities of the dean of students will be refined as the counselors and administrators work with the dean.

“This is one of the wrap-around services we will be providing for our students,” Harrison explained. “The dean of students position will help counselors to focus more on student needs and finding the best way to provide for those needs.”