Lesson Learned Column Upshur County Schools Board of Education

The Upshur County Schools Board of Education is in a new place—we are “no longer” but we are “not yet”!

This concept was expressed by psychiatrist Patrice A. Harris, MD, the first African-American woman elected to serve as president of the American Medical Association. She began her term on June 11, 2019, and in her inauguration address she used the idea of “no longer … not yet” to juxtapose the advances made in healthcare issues and the work still to be done. More importantly for our BOE and our students, she is a West Virginian who recognizes that coming from the heart of coal country shaped her mightily.
At our June 11, 2019, BOE meeting ,we measured our progress as a school district by applauding our 99% Buckhannon-Upshur High School graduation rate. Our student achievement deserves to be recognized. Yet we had 12 students who made the choice not to graduate. “No longer … not yet”!
We accepted the low bid of $1,555,000 by Huffman Corporation for additions and renovations to Hodgesville Elementary School to be completed in 180 days. “No longer … not yet”!
We celebrated an improving financial status report by paying bills with a small margin of bank balance, but we remain on a watch status with the West Virginia Board of Education. “No longer … not yet”!
Our BOE President Dr. Tammy Samples echoed again the message from our previous week’s Opera House Community Planning Meeting of HOPE. Upshur Next had more than 100 leaders from our town, college and county. All expressed creative ways to give our students a better education. We will keep working on a ten-year facilities plan. “No longer … not yet”!
In her inauguration address, Dr. Harris quoted Maya Angelou, an African-American poet, who said, “Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.” Again, being from West Virginia I understand this at two levels: coal keeps the lights on, so a nod to our coal country roots, but also, the Spirit to grow and thrive that I see in our school district is an amazing change. Truly, I believe we are Upshur Strong and unstoppable.
Lesson learned serving on the Board of Education can be be traced back to our motto: EXPECT EXCELLENCE! We have placed that goal in front of us for years, but now we are believing it. I go back to my own B-U Cross Country running days beginning in 1963. American History teacher Coach Gary Hess taught us that in life and in running we all train the best we can. That involves setting a pace and keeping it. Never walk. Never give up. Furthermore, he coached us as we approached the finish line to choose a point past the goal and run for that. Again, do not
slacken the pace.

What I believe we are seeing is that those years of hard work many teachers have put in are now paying off. We are “no longer” where we were; we are getting closer to excellence, but we are “not yet” there!


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