Lesson Learned (November 4)


Our new Buckhannon-Upshur Career Technical Middle and High School inspires my body, mind and spirit. The concept will be a first in West Virginia. Certainly, career technical education is an idea whose time has come. Yet this type of education is as old as the hills.

On October 6, 2021, I paid my respects to one of the truly great mountaineers, someone we have grown to love and respect in our community. Glenn Hersman Rohr passed away at the ripe age of 98 years. He shared a 73-year marriage with Enora Clarice Waldeck Rohr. Actually, he was buried October 7, which has been a celebration of their wedding anniversary day for years! He planned on celebrating 81 years of fidelity to the love of his life. Now that joyful time will be a Heavenly reunion.

Above Glenn Rohr’s casket on display was his Career Technical High School diploma. Really! He is so authentic. Actually, the bold letters proclaim that Mr. Rohr is a...

GRADUATE OF THE SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS

Here are his career technical skill sampling—farmer, carpenter, contractor, real estate agent, appraiser and more! In his 98 years, Glenn Rohr exhibited a life well lived in these West Virginia Hills.

Dr. Sara Lewis-Stankus, Superintendent of Upshur County Schools District, speaks of “stackable credentials” for our students as they plan a career technical education. We will have practical offerings from Home Economics to Shop, and much more. I see in Mr. Rohr’s life that he did climb a career technical ladder but without the benefit of formal education. His “hard knock life” worked out. However, learning in the classroom strikes me as a less traumatic way forward for our students.

The framed certificate posted above Glenn H. Rohr’s casket at the Clutter Funeral and Cremation Chapel is awarded by Alderson Broaddus University as a creation by West Virginia Hillbilly editor Jim Comstock. Let me give prime examples of why the award is well deserved:

When building our Total Life Clinic office building in 1980, I mentioned to Mr. Rohr that I wanted a dumbwaiter to carry charts from the second floor medical records storage to the first floor clinic. U.S. President Thomas Jefferson developed such a lift for his magnificent home, Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia. Not only could Mr. Rohr visualize such a contraption, but he improved upon it by using a motor from a garage door lift to make it automatic.

Mr. Rohr helped Araceli and me develop a fish pond at our farm using principles that I learned in West Virginia Wesleyan College Physics class, but he arrived at the same point of logic as the Greek genius Archimedes but through hard knocks. Mr. Rohr said we would find a used pipe at a sharp discount that is three feet in diameter. The water would flow through the lower 18 inches and the air through the upper 18 inches. Upon my word, both Archimedes and Rohr were correct.

Later we were building a barn at the farm. Araceli, my always practical wife, said she wanted to place the 1200 bales of hay in the loft but did not want to exert too much energy lifting them up to a second floor. Mr. Rohr carefully listened. He proposed backing the barn into a hillside. Then the hay truck load could be driven right up to the loft door. To protect the integrity of the barn wall, he proposed installing “French Drains.” While Mr. Rohr did not study engineering at a prestigious New England University nor had he traveled to France, nevertheless he knew all about the inventions of Henry Flagg French, a 19th-century American agriculturalist, inventor, lawyer, judge, postmaster, writer, assistant secretary of the treasury, and the first president of the Massachusetts Agricultural College.

Yes, our Buckhannon-Upshur Middle and High School students who will study in our new Career Technical School will follow in the big footsteps of Glen Hersman Rohr. But rather than graduate from the school of hard knocks, our young Buccaneers gain the opportunity of a lifetime to study in a West Virginia first—a career technical school of opportunity knocking.

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