Back when you were in school, if the vice principal called your house, you knew you were in TROUBLE.
At Skyview Elementary School, and especially during these pandemic days, such calls from Vice Principal Stacey Sylvester are commonplace.
They’re regularly made, because, well, it’s her and Skyview – and that’s just how it’s done.
The idea is to check in, be it by telephone or email, to simply see how Skyview’s families are doing.
How Skyview’s students are doing.
“We’ll ask, ‘Hey, is everything all right?’” she said.
“We’ll ask, ‘What can we do to help?’”
On Friday at the school on River Road, she had a question of her own: “OK – what’s going on?”
That’s because there were some people to see her, specifically, and she didn’t know what this socially distanced assemblage was all about.
She did know, even with their facemasks, they were smiling – the dancing, crinkling eyes, you know – and the spoiler came from her direct supervisor, Jennifer Cox, who principal there.
“We just wanted to say congratulations to the Vice Principal of the Year.”
Sylvester, who began her career as a special education teacher, received the recognition from the West Virginia Association for Elementary and Middle School Principals in the surprise ceremony.
The recipient appreciates the award, because, as she said “it validates the work” everyone in the building is doing for Skyview’s families.
“Our kids, our community,” she said. “This is why we do this.”
In terms of her craft, Sylvester always knew what she wanted to do: To teach, and to work in education.”
She grew up here and graduated from Morgantown High. She went 20 minutes down Interstate 79 to earn her undergraduate degree in education from Fairmont State University.
A master’s degree followed at WVU.
At Skyview, her designation puts her in lofty company. In 2017, Cox was bestowed Principal of the Year honors for the state from the same organization.
That year’s Skyview recipient said basically the same as the person receiving the plaque for this year.
“We absolutely couldn’t do what we do without the support everyone in our building and in our community,” Cox said.
Mon Schools’ administrator Donna Talerico – who, coincidentally, was honored by the organization as Deputy School Superintendent of the Year for 2020 – said Sylvester is effective in her job because of her teacher’s heartbeat.
“She knows the craft, but she especially understands what it’s like to be in that classroom and making connections with those kids.”
Sylvester is also married with two young sons, also in Mon Schools.
Built-in empathy, Talerico said.
“At Skyview, we’re built on community, friendship and trust,” the principal said. “We want our parents and kids to feel safe here.”
As for Sylvester, well, once she got over the genuine surprise, everybody there could tell she was smiling, too.
Even with her facemask.
“It’s like we’re all saying here: This is about Skyview Elementary.”