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.
Time is now for Tomblin to support King Coal Highway
U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., is asking Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to add the King Coal Highway project to West Virginia’s six-year highway improvement plan. It is a logical request, and one that Tomblin should act promptly on.
United effort to keep NASA in Fairmont is essential project
The high-technology sector is obviously vital to the economy of North Central West Virginia.
That’s why a strong, united effort to keep the NASA Independent Verification and Validation Program in Fairmont is absolutely essential.
COLUMN: Calling all readers: Be heard
I love to talk to readers.
I love to hear concerns they have about stories we’ve written, things they think should be included in the newspaper and things they think shouldn’t be.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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