Monongalia County Board of Education member Mike Kelly remembers his days as a student at University High School, when the building was located atop Price Street, overlooking WVU’s downtown campus.
“I’d take my classes in the morning at University High, then I’d walk down the hill to WVU for classes I’d take there in the afternoon,” he said.
His experiences make for a snapshot of the opportunities afforded by students here in a district that’s also home to a major land grant university — with “opportunity” being the watchword Tuesday for the BOE’s last meeting of the year before the district’s holiday break.
Teachers, administrators and academic team leaders from UHS, Morgantown High and Clay-Battelle came out for the meeting to give a Christmas present, of sorts, to the board.
It came in the form of an interactive session lasting more than hour within the board meeting.
The session offered board members such as Kelly, a product of Mon County Schools, a chance to look back — while teachers and administrators from the three public high schools used the occasion to look forward.
And it was just as much about the community as it was the classroom.
Clay-Battelle, for example, raised nearly $12,000 this fall during its annual Pink Out fundraiser for breast cancer research.
The district’s career technical education offerings were also spotlighted: Ranging from auto mechanics to the culinary arts, those programs boast a 94% graduation rate for a district that wants to build a $72-million standalone high school for science, technology, engineering and math offerings by decade’s end.
Mon’s graduates who go on generally perform well in college, including the Ivy League schools and other marquee institutions.
The county’s excess levy for education, which annually brings an additional $30 million to the school district’s coffers, is a big part of that overall achievement, BOE member Nancy Walker said.
“The community expects it,” she said.
In turn, BOE President Ron Lytle said district teachers should expect lots of opportunities for professional development, along with something more fundamental: The collective ear of district officials and board members when it comes time to talk about the things that aren’t pleasant.
Open dialogue, he said, needs to be fostered and celebrated.
“We need to make sure our staff is heard,” he said. On this night, he said, it was also important that teachers and others who work with students daily hear expressions of gratitude, from him and his fellow board members, in particular.
“It’s important that we thank you guys,” he said.
Deputy Schools Superintendent Donna Talerico agreed.
“I’m honored to be in the presence of excellence this evening,” she said.