Mon County Schools to recognize “Hometown Heroes” for volunteer work in schools

MORGANTOWN — Superman would have likely been lapped twice Thursday (July 19) night at North Elementary School.

That is, if the Man of Steel had tried to go step-for-step with Clark Hernandez.

“Bye, Mom, I’ll be over here,” the 5-year-old sang in a whoosh, as he rounded the corner on his way to the playground.

His mother, Karen Rambo-Hernandez, smiled and shook her head.

“He’s actually looking forward to the first day of school,” she said of her son, who will attend kindergarten in the fall at the school on Chestnut Ridge Road. “He wants to go.”

That was the point of the proceedings at North, and at the county’s other public elementary schools, on that summer evening.

The county-wide event was known as the “Summer Sizzler” —  youngsters came out to romp on playgrounds while snagging  books from the “Free Little Libraries” set up at each campus.

Monongalia County Schools came up with both ideas a couple of years back to get children excited about school and reading.

“We want our students to stay interested and excited,” Assistant Schools Superintendent Donna Talerico said.

“And we want them to become page-turners. At the library stations, they can take a book, and maybe donate one while they’re at it.”

Students drive Monongalia’s schools, she said. Another group does the steering.

She’s referring to the “Hometown Heroes” — so named because they volunteer their time every year in those elementary schools.

Actually, every public school in the district has an official “hero.”

The elementary school contingent was recognized during the “Sizzler” proceedings Thursday.

At North, there’s Jim Rye, the WVU professor of education who works with the school’s booming vegetable garden and has sown many grants so the garden — and student interest — can keep growing.

Susan Melenric never met a lesson plan she didn’t like. When she visits Brookhaven, she’ll drop in on classes —  then jump in, like the teacher she once was.

At Cheat Lake, cook Ruth Adams serves good cheer to go with the food. No kid gets left behind in Amber Nichols’ kindergarten classes at Eastwood.

Jackie Hellyer keeps things moving at Mason-Dixon: She also coaches track on top of her teach-ing duties.

Rick Colflesh and Sandee Kiger both want to educate about the myriad of Mountain State causes that keep them engaged. In turn, they try to keep students engaged —  at Mylan Park and Ridgedale, respectively.

State Police trooper Scott Schlobohm devotes his off-duty time to Mountainview. The door to counselor Terri Shaw’s office at Suncrest Elementary is easy to find, since it’s always open.

Leslie Brooks and the Rev. Kevin Cain are heroes at Skyview: The backpack program they run feeds more than 2,000 underprivileged students every weekend.

All the hometown heroes will be recognized Aug. 6 during “Mon Schools’ Staff Appreciation Night” at the Monongalia County Ballpark.