Lesson Learned (August 18)

This week we welcome guest columnist Dr. Sara Lewis-Stankus, Superintendent Upshur County Schools.

Welcome back to a new school year! While we recognize the challenges of the past few years, it is important to look to our bright future and be ready to meet this moment in our county’s history. With our shared ideals, we will reimagine education where all children can succeed. This is our moment in history to make education the great equalizer... the force that can help every student thrive, no matter their background, zip code, circumstance, or language they speak at home.

Our task is not only to move our education system forward from where it was before the pandemic, but to take bolder action in elevating Upshur County as a leader in the state and nation. Upshur County Schools are committed to providing a quality education through a safe, student-centered learning environment in a respectful, caring atmosphere. It is the mutual responsibility of students, staff, parents, and other community members to be committed to and accountable for student mastery of essential skills, which will lead to success in life.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has created major challenges for Upshur County families and the education community, many of the issues facing our students and teachers preceded the virus. Through it all, the pandemic emphasized the importance of systems of support to assist our children and families. From internet access and nutrition to social-emotional services, our schools are redefining all supports for teaching and learning. Upshur County Schools remain focused on teaching and learning and supporting our students and their families. We are working diligently with our community stakeholders to create a system that reflects our school days pre-pandemic while building upon that foundation. While we are excited about the possibilities of our one-to-one technology, we understand that there is no substitute for the human connection. Truly, inspirational teachers and caring adults are the mitigating factors that positively impact a child’s future!

As a school system, we have used our unprecedented resources to invest in strategies known to help our students succeed. We have been at every table in our community, and our state, brainstorming together about how we can deploy these resources to help schools do this important work to elevate our families. We have active partnerships with Upshur County Commission, City Council, Buckhannon Chamber of Commerce, Upshur County Development Authority, ART26201, Rotary Club, Lions Club, SUBA, WV Extension Service, Stockert Youth Center, Upshur County Public Library, Community Care of West Virginia, West Virginia Wesleyan College and other local and civic organizations.

In addition, our school leaders have embedded mental health supports into their day-to-day operations in new and innovative ways. Every student has daily access to our counselors, Community In Schools Coordinators, social workers and nurses. We will continue to listen and engage partners in our work through intentional collaboration. This collaboration includes students, parents, families, educators, and leaders across our community. We will not be able to accomplish any of this alone, it truly takes a village. Our students are resilient and are proving that they can achieve academically, emotionally and socially regardless of the barriers that exist.

Let’s stay Upshur Strong and continue to serve our community and children with great passion.

- Dr. Sara Lewis-Stankus, Superintendent


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