The Times West Virginian

Opinion

June 29, 2014

Man selected to be state superintendent of schools has record of meeting challenges

Graduating more students and closing the achievement gap shown by poor and minority students.

Those are the objectives of Michael Martirano, the man expected to be West Virginia’s next superintendent of schools, and he has a record of meeting such challenges.

He has been superintendent at southern Maryland’s St. Mary’s County for nearly 10 years. The childhood poverty rate is much lower there than in West Virginia, around 10 percent. More than half of West Virginia students live at or below the poverty line. About one in three students in the Maryland district Martirano served qualify for free or discounted meals, and about 20 percent are minorities. In West Virginia, the 10 percent of students who are minorities score lower on tests than their classmates.

Martirano is proud of his Maryland record and believes he will be an agent sparking change in West Virginia, even though the barriers he faces are different.

“We’ve been able to close the achievement gap here tremendously. When I first got here, the graduation rate was 82 percent. Now I’m leaving at 91.5 percent — an all-time high for the district. It’s that intentionality of, ‘What gets measured, gets done.’ And it can be done — I’ve been able to do it in every position I’ve been in,” Martirano said last week in a telephone interview with The Charleston Gazette.

“But it needs laser focus. It just can’t be everybody doing random acts. It charges me up tremendously to come into the state, and I hope to replicate a lot of the work that I’ve done in Maryland in West Virginia.”

Martirano, a Frostburg, Maryland, native, close to the border with West Virginia, said his grandfather was a coal miner and that he has fond childhood memories of the state he now wants to call home.

The state board of education will vote on Martirano’s employment Tuesday at the state Capitol. He is likely to officially assume the job in the fall.

He said it is important for the state to put a larger focus on early intervention, quality pre-kindergarten programs and more opportunities for struggling students to recover. Martirano, who is president of the Public School Superintendent Association of Maryland, said he wants to work closely with the county superintendents in West Virginia.

His primary focus, though, is the children.

“The job just really appealed to me in terms of compatibility, and I’ve been so impressed with the level of commitment from the state board of education that appears to be there,” Martirano said. “They really seem to have gone in and tried to change the focus and really go after improving student achievement. I am just truly honored and humbled to be selected for this position. I’m all about kids. I recognize adult agendas, but every job I’ve had has been to provide more assistance to kids, and I really want the citizens of West Virginia to be improving the quality of education.”

He’s also intent on making sure major educational issues — such as Common Core — are understood. In his Maryland district, Common Core regulations were implemented a year in advance, with all schools participating and also offering several informational sessions for parents.

“I’m a very assertive communicator. One of the primary ways to handle this barrier and combat fear is through communication about what the Common Core actually is. It’s a more rigorous curriculum that’s going deeper, instead of being an inch deep and a mile long,” he said. “I was, quite frankly, taken aback by the misunderstanding out there, but once we were able to provide communication and show exactly how it plays out, then people became extremely calm and understood the need for it.”

Improving education is critical if West Virginia’s economic future is to become better. Martirano has a history of leading change and deserves strong support when he is officially named the state’s superintendent of schools.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Korean War veterans are deserving of a memorial

    NEEDED: A total of $10,000 for the Korean War Memorial this year.
    And a good man has been placed in charge of the funding. Charlie Reese, former president of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, is now director of the Marion County Development Office. His task was to make a recommendation as to what steps are necessary to keep the project moving.

    July 25, 2014

  • Roll up your sleeves, give blood and you can save lives

    It takes up to 100 units of blood to save the life of someone who sustains life-threatening injuries in a vehicle accident.
    We’re hoping that the number of people who come to Fairmont Senior High School on Friday for and American Red Cross blood drive will exceed that amount.

    July 24, 2014

  • Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely

    The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
    It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
    It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.

    July 23, 2014

  • Too many taking too few steps to protect selves from skin cancer

    July 22, 2014

  • Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life

    Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
    And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.

    July 20, 2014

  • COLUMN: Are we people watchers or people judgers?

    Let me tell you about my little friend Robby. Well, actually, it’s more about his family and especially his mom. I didn’t get her name. I heard Robby’s name quite a bit, though, during a trip home from Birmingham, Alabama.
    I noticed the family in the Birmingham airport immediately. They were just the kind of family you’d notice.

    July 20, 2014

  • Relish the rich bounty of state’s diverse, unique food traditions

    This week, a group of federal officials on a three-day culinary tour of the state visited the Greenbrier Valley to find out what most of us here already know — we have a rich food tradition in West Virginia.
    The group was made up of officials from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    July 18, 2014

  • Soup Opera in need of your support again this time of year

    It’s happening again.
    It usually always happens about this time each year. Sometimes it’s a little earlier and sometimes a little later.
    But Soup Opera executive director Shelia Tennant knows it will come — usually in July. And she’s never that surprised about it.

    July 17, 2014

  • County honors men who gave all in helping their community

    The next time you’re driving in the Rivesville area, you might notice new signs on two of the area’s bridges.
    Those signs, which bear the names of Alex Angelino and Denzil O. Lockard, were unveiled Saturday in honor of the men whose names they display, two men who died while serving their communities.
    The bridge on U.S. 19 over Paw Paw Creek was named to honor Lockard, while the bridge on U.S. 19 over Pharaoh Run Creek was named to honor Angelino. Lockard, a former Rivesville police chief, died in 1958 at the age of 48 while directing traffic. Angelino, a Rivesville firefighter, died at the age of 43 of a heart attack while fighting a fire in 1966.

    July 16, 2014

  • State must learn to keep costs down and perform more efficiently on less

    The West Virginia state government began its budget year last Tuesday with a small surplus of $40 million — less than 1 percent of its annual tax revenues — thanks only to dipping into its savings.
    Let’s not do that again.

    July 15, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Politics
House Ads