The Times West Virginian

January 22, 2014

Commitment to high performance leads five county schools to ‘reward’

Times West Virginian

— With an ever-expanding focus on education and learning, it’s nice when a school is recognized as a “high-performing reward school.”

In Marion County, five schools can lay claim to that title.

The West Virginia Department of Education recently named several schools throughout the state that have been recognized under the department’s new “reward schools” program, which is based on achievement in math and English/language arts. In addition, the department of education designated schools in the top 10 percent of all West Virginia schools as “high-performing reward schools.”

In Marion County, East Fairmont High School, Fairview Middle School, Monongah Middle School, Pleasant Valley Elementary School and White Hall Elementary School earned that distinction. The only county with more was Kanawha County, which had six.

It’s an achievement Marion County Superintendent Gary Price said the schools can be proud of.

“It’s very difficult to make it under either condition, especially to be under the highest percentage in the state, and some counties did not have any (reward schools), or only had one or two,” Price said. “I think the achievement speaks for itself.”

But the recognition didn’t stop there.

White Hall Elementary and Pleasant Valley Elementary were also recognized as “high-progress reward schools” for falling within the top 10 percent in the state for growth and progress in those academic areas. WESTEST scores are used to determine schools’ progress.

As Kim Middlemas, principal at Pleasant Valley Elementary, pointed out, this recognition is one that can be celebrated not only by the teachers and students at the individual schools, but by parents and the community as a whole.

And while the recognition is nice, leaders at the schools know it takes real effort to achieve such heights — and stay there.

That means using test scores to bolster instruction and motivation. It means setting a goal each year to improve, and embracing each student’s learning needs.

It also means working hard every day, as Monongah Middle School principal Steve Malnick explained.

“We demand the highest performance day in and day out,” Malnick said. “We take time in the school day, with a period set aside just to work on any deficiencies in our math, English and language arts, and to enrich those students that are achieving at the highest levels.”

Those efforts not only help guarantee success on the current project or goal, but can pave the way toward more success in the future.

Regardless of the type of accolades, achievement by any school deserves recognition.

Fortunately, Marion County has five reasons to celebrate.