Upshur Co. BOE honors two teachers

The Inter-Mountain photo by Amanda Hayes Upshur County has two teachers recognized by the West Virginia Art Education Association as art teachers of the year at their respective programming levels. Heidi Thompson Keith, far right, teaches at Buckhannon-Upshur High School, while Virginia Hicks, seventh from left, teaches at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School. They were introduced at Tuesday’s Upshur County Board of Education meeting along with several middle school art students.

TENNERTON — The Upshur County Board of Education honored its two West Virginia art teachers of the year at this week’s regular meeting.

Heidi Thompson teaches at Buckhannon-Upshur High School while Virginia Hicks teaches at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School. Each were named art teacher of the year at their programmatic levels by the West Virginia Art Education Association.

Hicks said she and her fellow art teacher, Sherri Butler, started a new program to recognize more art students throughout the school year instead of the typical accolades that go to eighth graders at the end of the year.

“Sometimes, a sixth or seventh grader will win that award but not very often,” she said. “We decided that we have so many fabulous sixth and seventh graders that we wanted to honor them throughout the year.”

Some of those students were invited to come to the board meeting Tuesday and were introduced.

“I picked out the students who show a genuine interest in art, are always very respectful and very well-behaved,” she said.

Thompson said she has taught at almost all grade levels, and at the high school instructs a variety of classes.

“I also work with two other really amazing art teachers at the high school,” she said. “We are able to offer a lot of wonderful classes like pottery, ceramics, stained glass and photography.”

Superintendent Dr. Sara Stankus said, “I think it speaks volumes about the quality of our art program here in Upshur County to have two teachers selected as art teachers of the year. Thank you for your work with your students.”

Assistant superintendent Dr. Debra Harrison reported on the implementation of the pilot program for virtual school at B-UHS, which has 11 students enrolled for the semester.

“We have our first class in place,” she said.

Harrison said training was conducted last week with parents, students and staff as well as central office staff including Harrison, director of student services Jody Akers, special education director Mendy Stewart and director of federal programs Jody Johnson also attended the training.

“I do want to commend Teresa Knight; she has done a wonderful job with this,” Harrison said.

The board entered into a 30-minute executive session to discuss a summary of services with JH Consulting citing the provision under the state code, W.Va. Code 6-9-A-48 that allows BOEs to enter executive session to develop security personnel or devices.

The services JH Consulting provides includes updating crisis response plans for 10 schools annually, training, designing and evaluating school drills, researching grant opportunities for school safety and serving as a member of Upshur County Schools’ crisis response team, among other duties.

The board approved an additional $500 incentive bonus to professional employees who give early notice of retirement by March 1, 2019 and complete the 2018-2019 school year. Although not eligible for the state incentive, service personnel and administrators who give the same notice will receive a $500 incentive bonus from the school system as well.

Curriculum director Tim Derico said that the calendar committee has already began meeting and is looking at a similar calendar to previous years. Derico said the discussion was to move up the calendar hearings in each of the counties so that the process could be decided sooner allowing more advanced planning.

The board agreed to move the calendar hearings scheduled from the Feb. 26 and March 26 board meetings to the Jan. 22 and Feb. 12 board meetings.

At the beginning of the meeting, the board of education held a moment of silence to remember retired assistant superintendent Roy Pettit, physical education teacher Tappan Squires and custodian Kermit Pugh, all of whom have passed away in recent weeks.

Stankus said, “Our last couple weeks in Upshur County, I think all of us have realized the value and the importance of school teachers and personnel in our lives,” she said.

Board vice president Katie Loudin said, “It’s been a really hard couple of months. I appreciate the moment of silence, Dr. Stankus. As we look back at the year, I want to say that it’s really amazing to me as a community member to see everyone rally around those families of our educators that we have lost and I hope that community spirit continues.

Board president Dr. Tammy Samples commended high school teachers as well as the students for an assembly to honor Squires that was held Jan. 3, the first day students returned after Winter Break.

“It was so touching to see so much respect and camaraderie among those people,” she said. “I was very impressed with all pieces of that.”

Following an executive session, the board approved the superintendent’s recommendation to expel a student from school for one school year for violation of Upshur County Schools policy 4011 and West Virginia State Policy 4373 – Expected Behavior in Safe and Supportive Schools.

Following a third executive session of the night, the board tabled a request for a homebound student to participate in extracurricular activities until more information could be gathered. The next regular meeting of the board of education will be Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 6 p.m. at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School.