Think back to your years in school.
Who was the one teacher who had the biggest influence on you? Surely there was someone. A teacher who helped you understand those tricky math problems, or stopped your fellow classmates from picking on you at recess, or simply offered a listening ear when you needed someone to talk to.
As the new president of the state’s board of education said earlier this week during an awards ceremony recognizing local teachers, “I don’t think there’s probably a one of us in the room that can’t think back on an adult or teacher, someone who came into our lives that had a great influence.”
It was Gayle Manchin’s first local speaking appearance since becoming president of the West Virginia Board of Education.
Manchin, who is the wife of Farmington native and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., was elected earlier this month as the new president of the state board following a unanimous vote by her fellow board members. She had served as vice president since 2011.
A seasoned educator herself, Manchin took time at Tuesday’s awards ceremony to reflect on the importance of building relationships with students.
“That ability to relate to and integrate with students on a level that has nothing to do with curriculum or content area — you can’t really qualify that. You can’t measure it, but you can see the results,” she said.
That perspective is likely to serve her well as she steps into the president’s chair. Her new role, like any position of leadership, not only promises to be a challenging one, but is one that will be taken on under the public’s watchful eye.
And it’s coming at a critical time for the state board, which plans to conduct a nationwide search for a new state superintendent of schools as early as September.
Manchin said the controversial time leading up to this point — the board abruptly fired former Superintendent Jorea Marple in November, and she’s now suing the board for wrongful termination; in the meantime, the board hired Jim Phares to act as interim superintendent — has been a learning experience for the board, and its members have taken on more accountability than previous state school boards.
“I think we’re evolving into a state board that is willing to step up and assume the responsibility it should have, and also the accountability. The role of the state board had devolved into an area that really was not serving the purpose that it was supposed to have,” she told The Charleston Gazette earlier this month. “What has happened over the last six months is that this board has begun to grow and evolve into what a state board (is supposed to be.) And so now we have a lot of work to do.”
The work begins immediately, and we can think of no better person to lead the charge. After all, even though the state’s former first lady isn’t a Marion County native — she was born in Beckley — she has strong ties to this area. She knows the ins and outs of the education system. She knows what this state needs.
Plus, she follows in the footsteps of another prominent Marion Countian, Wade Linger, who was president of the state school board from 2011-13.
Marion County has been represented well at the state level, and we have no reason to think that won’t continue under Manchin’s leadership. We’re confident she has the knowledge and determination to succeed in this new endeavor, and we wish her nothing but luck as she works to improve education for each of West Virginia’s students.
Think back to your years in school.
Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated
Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.
Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives
A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.
State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary
Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.
Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better
When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.
COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable
That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!
Decision to be an organ donor can save lives
Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.
Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community
Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
Marion County is full of volunteers.
They read to our youth.
They assist nonprofit agencies.
They serve on boards and committees.
And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.
Proposed school calendar lives up to letter and spirit of law
West Virginia state law requires that students be in a classroom for 180 days.
Strong Fairmont General Hospital badly needed to serve our region
Mere minutes often matter when it comes to emergency health care.
That’s why we need a strong Fairmont General Hospital.
When patients need the services of health-care professionals, having family and friends close at hand is often essential, and their presence may even lead to a better outcome.
COLUMN: Fairmont General Hospital vital part of community
There’s nothing better than holding a newborn baby. It gives you a little feeling that not only is everything right in the world, but this perfect little human represents hope of a future where things will be better than they are today.
I had that blessed opportunity to hold that hopeful future in my arms last week when I visited my dear friend Jen and her newborn son Tristan at Fairmont General Hospital.
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