Education, Latest News, Monongalia County

‘An important job before the pandemic’

Students from the Mylan Park and Clay-Battelle school attendance areas reported to a soggy roll call Monday morning, in advance of next week’s start of classes in Monongalia County.

“I was worried we might not get anyone because of the rain,” Donna Talerico said.

Talerico, the district’s deputy superintendent of schools, helped coordinate the day’s outreach event, with the emphasis on that word, “outreach.”

As said, the event went off as scheduled — even with the day’s off-and-on showers.

The events were held at Clay-Battelle High School and at Bula Baptist Church, with other stops at Mason-Dixon Park and Mylan Park Elementary.

Today’s stops, for students from the Morgantown High feeder schools, will be at Brookhaven Elementary and Ridgedale Elementary, along with sessions at Marjorie Gardens and St. Mary Roman Catholic Church in Star City.

Students from the schools feeding in to University High may attend Wednesday’s gatherings at Chestnut Ridge Church and Canyon Presbyterian, also.

Other events will be at Pineview Apartments, Skyview Elementary, Paul’s Preserve at Jerome Park and the former Shop ‘n Save in Westover.

Meanwhile, on Monday, students picked up backpacks full of school supplies and nutritional snacks, while their parents and other caregivers received an allotment of information in the pandemic age.

“Everyone was able to meet with our outreach facilitators from their attendance areas,” Talerico said.

“That interaction is so important,” she said. “Things are different now. There are paperwork considerations and other things that just didn’t exist before the pandemic.”

The facilitators, though, did come into being before COVID, she said. The district created the program two years ago.

“We were pretty lucky with the timing.”

Most of the facilitators are social workers by training, Talerico said.

Some of them are teachers and staffers in the district, working in the schools they attended as children and teenagers.

The goal is to forge bonds — and tighten bonds — between the neighborhood and the school on the corner.

“Our facilitators had an important job before the pandemic,” she said.

The program can even offer transportation in some cases for families needing rides to medical appointments or the pharmacy for their prescriptions, Talerico added.

“We want to knock down all those barriers so our kids can be successful,” she said.

Now, the 2021-22 academic year is knocking on the door louder than ever, Talerico said.

“Our teachers report Thursday,” she said.

“And our kids will be in their classrooms the following Tuesday. It’s on.”

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