Lesson Learned (Dec. 17)


In the spirit of Christmas, Union Elementary School Principal Michelle Fleming greeted Board of Education members and many Upshur County Schools parents to her well-respected school. I touched base with her regarding the new roof for this mid-1980’s building. Progress depends on winter weather cooperating. We are grateful for the West Virginia School Building Authority funding!

During the early portion of our meeting, Principal Fleming extolled staff who are excelling in leadership in this 2020 year of COVID-19. We also met students earning Upshur Stars. Principal Fleming spoke glowingly of her leadership team working hard in these challenging times. Upshur Strong for sure, the Union Elementary School family is creating a nurturing environment for the students. She spoke of their “we can do this together” attitude, their authentic love and concern, respect, compassion, patience and flexibility.

As our meeting progressed, parents gave impassioned delegation remarks that were applauded by the assembly. And as Principal Fleming remarked, “We wish we could recognize every single stakeholder in our community, as it takes every one of us to serve and protect in the face of a pandemic.”

The final items on the agenda were more comments from parents and citizens as well as our Board of Education members, including my own lessons learned. Remote learning has presented challenges to teachers, staff, students and their families. Several times throughout the evening the plea for us not to be afraid of the virus scourge was strongly expressed. Just as passionately the sentiment expressed was for us united to do everything possible to keep our children and grandchildren in school, where our well-respected teachers can mold best the young minds of Upshurites. Principal Michelle Fleming lifted up two students from each of the grades, kindergarten through 5th grade, who exemplified characteristics of highly successful pandemic learners. She praised students “who are self-motivated, independent learners with good time management and personal commitment to perform in order to achieve academic success.” 

Unison at Union came when we all agreed that all should be done for the sake of the children. In my remarks I thanked the staff at Union Elementary School, expressing that they have hosted us in a “night we will never forget.” I stated, “This meeting is important. We are in uncharted waters. This virus is wrecking our economy, obviously our school system, and our healthcare system.”

I explained my vote to have a pause on in-school learning: “Because I thought we were getting out of control, and it gives us more time to stabilize our lives.” I acknowledged that “it obviously had a negative impact on some.” I continued, “The next time there is a shortage of subs, I hope that everyone runs to the schoolhouse and volunteers to help. The next time we have a situation involving children, let’s do everything we can to build up the community.”

 I concluded my remarks with the observation that the large crowd gathered at Union Elementary School shows that “this is an ideal place for us to come and talk about this.”

 My lesson learned is that the children and grandchildren are observing how we problem solve. This is just one of many lessons learned at Union Elementary School, Christmas Season 2020.

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