BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Board of Education recently hired three new Communities in Schools Facilitators, which means every school in Upshur County will have a CIS facilitator.
Those hired include Jordon Barr who will serve at Hodgesville and Tennerton Elementary Schools; Abbie Golden who will serve at Washington District and Union Elementary Schools; and Jordan Hedrick will serve at Rock Cave and French Creek Elementary Schools.
Currently, Amy McMillan serves as the Communities in Schools facilitator at Buckhannon-Upshur High School; Justin Bowers serves as the Communities in Schools facilitator at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School; and Krista Sappey serves as the Communities in Schools facilitator at Buckhannon Academy Elementary School.
In Upshur County, the CIS program began in 2020 with a grant in the amount of $384,000 which was presented by Vicki Shannon, executive assistant to West Virginia First Lady Cathy Justice; and Cynthia Sorsaia, CIS support coordinator. Justice attended the check presentation at that time via video, and she said the CIS program is making a difference in schools in attendance and graduation rates. She explained the program places someone in the schools to coordinate meeting the needs of students and families and helps remove barriers for students.
In April, Upshur County Board of Education Treasurer Jeffrey Perkins noted that one of the differences in the budget for the 2021-2022 school year was it includes three additional Communities in Schools Facilitators, bringing the total positions up to six.
Melinda Stewart, the contact person for Upshur County Schools Communities in Schools, said the Upshur County School system is happy to add the three new facilitators. During that time, Stewart said with additional grant funding, they would be offering the CIS facilitators countywide. The original three CIS facilitators have worked with numerous families in the communities to secure food, clothing, medication, family services, medical services and even furniture and appliances, she added.
“They have been liaisons between families and our schools,” she said in April. “These individuals have built relationships with school staff, families, students and community agencies. What a blessing they have been in coordinating necessary services for families in their time of need. It is wonderful when we are able to help meet the basic needs of families in our community, while ensuring the education of children.”
Jordon Barr, who will serve as CIS for Hodgesville and Tennerton Elementary Schools, said she is excited to start her new position in Upshur County.
“I grew up in Buckhannon and have lived her almost my whole life,” Barr said. “I recently moved to a little farm in Weston with my fiancée and our two dogs.”
Barr said she graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 2017 with a BA in sociology and criminal justice and then worked for Child Protective Services.
“It was not until I became a substitute teacher that I found my passion,” Barr said. “Recently, I started working on my MA degree in special education through Fairmont State University. I enjoy being in the classroom that much and find it rewarding when I can help make a difference in a child’s life, even if it seems so small.”
Barr said her drive to help every child have the same opportunity to succeed makes her feel like she is the best person to serve in the CIS position at Hodgesville and Tennerton Elementary Schools.
“I will be a good fit for this position,” Barr said. “I believe that as a community, we need to help remove any barriers a child may be facing and empower their success!”
Abbie Golden will serve as the Communities in Schools facilitator for Washington District and Union Elementary Schools. Abbie said she grew up in Upshur County and attended Union Elementary School – the same school she will be serving.
“I graduated from Buckhannon-Upshur High School in 2009 and obtained a BA degree from Liberty University,” she said. “I am currently working on a master’s degree in special education. My family is my world and I am so excited to raise my kids in my hometown.”
Golden said over the last 10 years, she has worked in several positions involving the youth of Upshur County including Upshur County 4-H and children’s ministry.
“I have been a substitute teacher for three years and have discovered a huge passion for helping our students succeed and overcome any obstacle standing in their way,” Golden said. “I believe that bringing the community and schools together to help our students is so important and together we can make a huge difference in the lives of our children. Building relationships with students has always been important to me because I feel that building trust with our students is essential. They need to know that we are in their corner.”
Golden said she feels she has the qualities and personality to build strong relationships with students and the community that go beyond academics.
“I am excited to work with both Washington District and Union Elementary Schools where I hope to build a sense of community all around and help our students succeed in life,” Golden said.
Jordan Hedrick will serve as the Communities in Schools facilitator for the 2021-2022 school year in Rock Cave and French Creek Elementary Schools. Hedrick said he grew up in French Creek, attended French Creek Elementary School and graduated from Buckhannon-Upshur High School. He graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan College.
“I graduated from WVWC in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in sociology,” Hedrick said. “For the last nine years, I have worked as a social worker at West Virginia University’s United Summit Center in Weston and Clarksburg. I worked with clients who were mentally ill and helping folks with substance abuse issues and homelessness.”
Hedrick said he lives in Buckhannon with his wife and three children and said he really likes the area.
“I am excited to be able to work in the place I grew up in,” Hedrick.
He said in a lot of ways, the CIS facilitator position is similar to what he has been doing for the last nine years.
“It is helping people who might not have the ability to help themselves,” Hedrick said. “I will be looking out for people who might be suffering from abuse and neglect, those affected by poverty or drugs. Unfortunately, this is prevalent in this area. It is unfortunate – I hate to see that West Virginia has been hit so hard with the drug epidemic – but it has.”
Hedrick said he sees many similarities in this job with the one where he currently works – but said it will be a different client base.
“It will be children instead of adults,” he said. “But this is a job I am good at – relating to people, connecting with people, being empathetic and being able to help them. I thought it would be a good fit and it will be a welcome new change I am excited to take on.”
Hedrick said he feels he has formed relationships with agencies in the area, from homeless shelters to food pantries.
“A lot of people may not know the resources that are available to them in the community,” Hedrick said. “Also, being a father to three kids gives me the experience working with kids. In college, I was a Bonner Scholar at WVWC. With that, I did a lot of work with children as a tutor, mentor and basketball coach at Stockert Youth Center. I helped build houses with Habitat to Humanity and helped on projects restoring things at Fiddler’s Mill in Helvetia.”
Hedrick said he is most looking forward to gaining perspective on the youth population.
“I am interested in being able to make a difference,” he said. “I have three children of my own – all elementary school-aged – and I will take pride in being able to help some kids that were struggling. That will make me feel great – to be able to help families that may not even know what help is available to them.”
Hedrick said he grew up in French Creek and it is a very small town.
“My parents still live there and I will take pride in knowing I helped contribute and make a difference in the area I called home for so long,” Hedrick said.