Growing up in the 1950s, I found our downtown Buckhannon to be a vibrant place, especially on Saturdays. Our many smaller communities, where we had at least 25 one- and two-room schoolhouses, would have most families all coming to town to shop on Saturdays. My friends and I loved to join the throng, especially in the local Murphy’s 5 & 10 Cents Store. Academy School classmate Sherry Slaughter’s father managed the thriving business. When I made my rounds, I checked out the 45 rpms, with Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog” and other hit parade songs. Then I checked out the poster and postcard section. One memory that resonates with me even now is a carefully lettered card that read:
P L A N A H E A D. But the joke is that the initial letters are overly large, and the final letters are crowded together. Obviously, no planning!
Contrary to that is the current due diligence of the Upshur County Schools Board of Education, led by our capable President Tammy Samples. She convened us in the outdoor pavilion at the Bicentennial Motel, where we practiced safe physical distancing, as well as all wearing masks. Fortunately, September 28th was a warm day with blue skies.
Dr. Samples set the agenda, so we not only complied with the West Virginia State Education Policy 5309, Section 6.1.1, but we also had a thorough discussion with ideas and goals shared passionately. We are fortunate that President Samples is not only a professor of education at West Virginia Wesleyan College, but also an officer in our West Virginia School Board Association. In my estimate, the voters did well this spring when they re-elected her for four more years to the BOE.
Director of School Safety and Emergency Preparedness Dr. Jeff Harvey played traffic cop, keeping all of us in the middle of the road and on track. Our Upshur Schools Superintendent Dr. Sara Stankus shared note posting duties, so we ended our meeting with clarified goals. Basically, we agreed on five goals and up to five sub-goals. As Dr. Stankus added, each local school faculty senate will be looking at goals and asking themselves:
1-What is going well?
2-What needs work?
3-How can we support it?
Strategic goals set:
I – “The students of Upshur County Schools will demonstrate significant and continual growth in the acquisition of skills to be college and career ready.”
II – “All students will develop the personal skills and dispositions of wellness responsibility, cultural awareness, self-direction, ethical character and good citizenship in an environment that is caring and safe.”
III – “Foster effective communication and relationships with all stakeholders.”
IV – “Provide financial resources and services in order to support the goals and purpose of Upshur County Schools.”
V – “Provide modern, efficient facilities conducive to college and career readiness, learning standards and outcomes that respond to workforce and economic demands.”
While all goals are worthy, I lift up “II” as foundational. I practiced holistic medicine for my 50 years in the arena. There, I share my Lesson Learned. I recalled to nearly every patient this prescription for wellness: “If one loses material wealth, one loses nothing; if one loses health, one loses much; if one loses character, one loses everything!”
Our Upshur County Schools are becoming more holistic health-wise by providing additional measures to meet the physical, social and emotional needs of its students with the new Wellness and Child Nutrition Department under Director Eddie Vincent. He told us during our goal planning session that he is pleased with the Wellness Policy. The policy will be scrutinized and polished by a wellness committee, leading to a department focused on the well-being of the whole child. May our students learn the lesson of strategic goal II.