BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Board of Education met many bright stars last week during their Aug. 24 meeting, which includes students, teachers and faculty members. Upshur County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus said the students and staff were celebrating a terrific beginning of the school year, and teachers are glad to be in-person with their students.
Mike Wilson was one of Upshur County’s Teacher of the Year for 2021, and he reflected on the excitement the beginning of a new school year brings.
“I think this gives us an opportunity to see the importance of being in our buildings for school,” Wilson said. “Members of the B-UHS Student Council do so much to help build the integrity of our school.”
Wilson said he noticed the staff members were being very encouraging to students.
“I took a few minutes each day watching our staff and there is no way a computer can bring that to life,” Wilson said. “The people are who make it. The school is actually the people in it. We have great kids, and I think we are going to have a great year.”
Erin Anderson, the West Virginia Teacher of the Year, said being positive is a choice for her.
“In this role, I really wanted to remain positive,” Anderson said. “I had to because I was in the spotlight and education is the highlight of every conversation. I absolutely love to stay positive and look for the good in every situation.”
Anderson said she loves a fresh, new beginning.
“I love the clean slate that each of us brings to a new school year, and I not-so-secretly love the freshly waxed hallways and classrooms,” Anderson said. “I love the boxes of crayons and the housekeeping paperwork that I get to sort. But my favorite thing is the buzz in the room as the students enter their new classroom for the first time and look around to see who is there. I love watching them make eye contact with their friends and that is my favorite part.”
“I am overjoyed to be back in my classroom and thankful to have 25 faces in front of me,” Anderson added. “We have been setting up routines and procedures and we have started reading and math and science and we have worked up to 13 minutes and 55 seconds of reading stamina. We have worked on complimenting one another and pointing out the strengths of our classmates. My experience has been that my coworkers are smiling and happy to be back with their kiddos. My building has been full of smiles, and we are teacher tired.”
Anderson enjoyed the leadership position her title afforded her.
“As a leader, I am happy,” Anderson said. “I get to share my experiences and listen to the experiences of others. The pandemic has exposed us to all sorts of things – good and bad. The pandemic taught me I have to pivot, and it taught me to trust. It has taught me to be in the moment and teach in the moment and there is a peace in knowing I cannot control everything.”
Director of Student Wellness and Child Nutrition Eddie Vincent next introduced some talented art students from Upshur County. Vincent said some of the artwork has been framed and is used to decorate the Upshur County Schools Central Office.
“[Art instructor Sherri] Butler wrote that Colton Smith rose to the challenge of a realistic rendition of seashells that we studied in eighth-grade art,” Vincent read. “He practiced watercolor techniques before starting and continuing to perfect those techniques. After exploring different color schemes in class, Colton chose his limited color pallet, unifying the composition. She said she is very proud of Colton’s accomplishments.”
Vincent introduced the next art students to be recognized. He said Aden McCartney and Peyton Depew were students of Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School Art Teacher Virginia Hicks.
“Hicks said she is extremely proud of their hard work and their commitment to art,” Vincent read. “I hope they will continue to create art in a variety of formats throughout high school and beyond.”
Vincent said everyone really enjoyed having the artwork displayed at the County Office.
Next, Quinten Oldaker, an Upshur County Schools Technology System Specialist, received an Upshur Star for becoming a certified Apple Learning Coach. Vincent said the training was self-paced and included vigorous workshops.
“He has gained a deep understanding in how to support teachers as they integrate Apple technology into learning,” Vincent said.
Vincent then invited Joe Hymes and Allyson Lewis to recognize some of the FFA award winners. Hymes said in March 2020, some students applied for their state FFA degree.
“The FFA State Degree recipients have to earn and invest at least $1,000 into their own project,” Hymes said. “They also need to participate in five activities, carry a ‘C’ average, be good citizens and do a few other things, too.”
Hymes introduced Branson Carpenter, Isaac Robinson, Devin Black, Gino Keplinger, Kaitlyn Evans, Amberly Ward and McKenzie Gross.
“We had 13 state degrees out of 160 across the state,” Hymes said. “We are proud of you guys and hope you continue on and earn your American Degree.”
The final recognitions were presented to three very important people in the schools. Stankus asked Emergency Preparedness and School Safety Director Dr. Jeffery Harvey to recognize Chief Deputy Mike Coffman, Sgt. Dewaine Linger and Deputy Seth Cutright from the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department.
“These guys are wonderful liaisons for us with the emergency services community at large,” Harvey said. “They help us out with our general prep in safety and security efforts in the buildings and a lot of what we do we really could not do without the link these guys provide.”
“Thanks for all you do,” Stankus said.