Opportunity knocked January 28, 2020, for our Upshur County Schools. Our Board of Education invited a presentation about Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). We heard of a new opportunity for developing leadership, fostering academic excellence, building good citizenship, and promoting health, physical and mental wellness, while teaching military knowledge and history.
Our yearning for such an opportunity has been with us like a slow itch. Years ago, then-BOE President Teresa Bellamy and I approached Major General James A. Hoyer at a West Virginia School Board Association meeting in Charleston. We nearly begged for an ROTC program for Upshur County. Apparently, many other West Virginia counties have done the same.
The Major General ordered his staff to find a way to resurrect a program that nationally has been shrinking due to various reasons. How pleased to know West Virginia has been granted an opportunity for a Future Leaders Program (FLP) that builds on ROTC experience. LTC James Reese, Program Officer in Charge, and a Buckhannon-Upshur High School graduate, came to tell us we have been heard. We are on a short list for an FLP that is being built as it flies!
Major General James A. Hoyer, The Adjutant General, West Virginia National Guard, writes in an FLP brochure:
“The primary goal of the Future Leaders Program is to help students succeed not only in high school, but to be successful in life, contributing members of our communities and nation, and to teach them the importance of making smart decisions in life. This program goes beyond the Guard and speaks to the long-term individual success of each student, and through them our local communities and the state as a whole.”
When my tenure serving as an elected member of the BOE is over, our decision to pursue a Future Leaders Program for Upshur County Schools will be one of my proudest moments. Our children and grandchildren deserve opportunities like this. I know we are in trouble in the midst of the Opioid Epidemic, but I was shocked to hear that 72% of our current students, due to various reasons, would not be eligible for military service. But we must start someplace to turn ourselves around. Here is the place.
Opportunity is knocking!
Educating leaders is the place to start. By design, this will be a credit class toward graduation. Our local citizens have answered surveys urging the BOE to have more Career Technical Education. This fits the CTE model.
Since I have had the high privilege to be in a leadership position as a physician and a BOE member, I know firsthand the value of educating future leaders. Leadership is the process of influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation to accomplish the mission and improve the organization.
The Mission of the Upshur County Schools is to provide academic preparation, social responsibility, employability, and a desire of lifelong learning. The Future Leaders Program does this. A leader, by virtue of an assumed role or assigned responsibility, inspires and influences people to accomplish organizational goals. Leaders motivate people both inside and outside the chain of command to pursue actions, focus thinking, and shape decisions for the greater good of all of US. Upshur Strong!