Lesson Learned - May 26

Lesson learned this week has to do with the philosophy of education. I am inspired by having Maggie Nolte, Buckhannon-Upshur High School student representative to our Board of Education, sitting with us participating in our regular meetings. I shared with her how another compatriot solved a problem at the high school in a creative way that I believe only a student could do.

Several years ago, there was a major issue of tardiness. Students just were not getting from class to class on time. Even though the issue had not made itself to our BOE agenda yet, we were concerned as we felt there might be a morale problem. As we informally discussed what was happening, our student representative to the board at that time spoke up, giving the perfect solution—why not add an intermediate bell between the class ending bell and the class beginning bell?

Well, this worked like a charm! Students heard the warning bell and quickly scurried to the next class, arriving on time.

“Ahh, yes!” Maggie proclaimed, “we still have that intermediate bell and we are on time to class!”

I love to laugh, and the other evening Maggie joined me enthusiastically. For me, this is a good sign that she and our current crop of Buckhannon-Upshur seniors are growing up wise!

Former Superintendent of Upshur County Schools Lynn Westfall taught me years ago a philosophy of education that has served me well during my tenure serving as a member of the BOE. In fact, this golden nugget has sustained me in the study and practice of medicine for 50 years. As my English teacher, Mr. Westfall had me read “Émile,” a major work on education, that describes an attempt to educate a simple and pure child for life in a world from which social man is estranged. He said Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote “Émile, Or Treatise on Education,” for such a time as ours. I had Junior English in 1965 as our class faced the Viet Nam Conflict and severe racial tension.

Sounds similar to our times!

Lynn Westfall and Rousseau believed human beings’ enslavement to their own needs is responsible for a wide variety of societal ills, such as exploitation and domination of others, and poor self-esteem and depression. Both Westfall and Rousseau believed that good government must have the freedom of all its citizens as its objective above all others.

Between BOE agenda items I queried Maggie Nolte, discovering she plans to continue her education at West Virginia Wesleyan College. Then she aspires to read law, achieving a position where she can impact our world for good as an international attorney.

Jonathan Pollock, Principal of Buckhannon-Upshur High School, has recognized some spark of drive and intellect in Maggie, propelling her to a position on the BOE. I believe Lynn Westfall saw something in me as a teenager that led him to assign me a philosophy of education classic text. But most certainly a thank-you to Rousseau, who wrote “Émile,” philosophizing how we educate our children in this chaotic world!

But most of all I thank all the parents and grandparents who allow our dedicated teachers and staff to show truth highlighted in reading, writing and arithmetic. I credit the nurturing of Maggie’s family, emphasizing father Sam Nolte, mother Kathy, and siblings, Ben and Joey, for their unwavering support of education as a way forward for all our students.


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