Judi Hamrick, president of the Tyler County Education Association, appeared with a delegation of Tyler County teachers Monday evening to express concerns about recent remarks a parent and the Common Core group made at last month's meeting, They also expressed their feelings of a lack of support from the local board.
Hamrick opened her remarks by saying, "I know there has been a lot of talk recently about Common Core. I'm concerned, as other teachers are, that we may be confusing people's opinions as facts." She stated there have been statewide content standards for many years, longer than I have been teaching. "Teachers aren't really joining in the fight against "next gen" standards because, we see this as just the newest version of what we have already had for many, many years," said Hamrick.
"Teachers who were at the last board meeting, seemed very upset when they left. We all sat there and listened as Common Core and others spoke and several comments were made about our schools, especially Boreman School and their teachers," said Hamrick. "There seemed to be many negative remarks and I understand that they are allowed their opinions. However, we are concerned that you may agree with their remarks and that you may not know what the teachers do for the children of Tyler County."
"Teachers, do many things on their own time and with their own money, over and above what they are paid to do," said Hamrick. For instance, teachers have technology training during their lunch times to help each other with all the newest technology requirements. They attend staff development and other classes throughout the school year and during the summer. They share online games, lessons, and activities with other teachers. The teachers at Boreman have more than 460 years of teaching experience, most of it in this county.
She continued, saying teachers help their students by staying after school to tutor them, teaching in summer schools, and watching students after school everyday. Teachers meet at the end of the school day for discussions about struggling students and to share teaching strategies in reading and math. They work evenings, weekends, and summer days in preparation for their students.
They prepare for the art shows by preparing and putting up the art work in the art room and the hallways. They also work preparing them for the art shows in the spring. Teachers also decorate the library during book weeks and prepare activities for all students based on a theme each year.
Teachers also buy books with their own money at the school book fair, for many students. They also, many times, pay for kids to go on field trips. They often purchase costumes for plays, birthday gifts, and a lot of classroom supplies. They are involved with many math and science activities on their own time and with their own money. They fill Christmas bags that are given to students through local groups and agencies.
"These teachers are also involved in counseling kids who need, you know, that extra love and attention," said Hamrick. "We listen to multiple stories about pets, siblings, mom and dad, sick family members, and you name it. We also provide teaching and social skills, we support Relay for Life teams at the schools, we bring in cans of food for the local food banks. We watch students play sports at the middle school, high school, and at the many youth league games. Teachers support students as they participate in Jump Rope for Heart, Let's Move WV, for more active schools.
Teachers also participate in many field day activities. They have worked at youth league basketball games to earn donations to buy the rock climbing wall at our school.
"Teachers in all of our schools are dedicated to our students and we go about doing what is expected of us in the classrooms," said Hamrick, who concluded, "My question to you as the board is do you really know what is going on in our schools and how do you show your support for the teachers of Tyler County Schools? We invite you and encourage you to take an active part in the schools by participating in volunteer opportunities, by visiting the schools and talking to the kids and teachers, and by going to the extracurricular activities."
Linda Hoover, president of the board thanked Hamrick and went on to say that she certainly never meant to make the teachers feel like she wasn't backing them, because she certainly does. "I feel that you do a terrific job. absolutely outstanding," said Hoover.
Board Member Jimmy Wyatt spoke about a comment he had made that may have upset the teachers at the last meeting. He said the comment certainly wasn't about local schools. "I was raised in this system, my daughter went here and my wife worked in your school," said Wyatt. "I know what is going on in the schools and if I had a problem with what's going on and I didn't trust the administration, I would be in your school quite often and as a board member.
"My comment was not about Common Core or anyone else, but my comment was that this board is tired of federal and state intervention and not letting us as a county run our own system," said Wyatt. "That includes, the board and you folks working together to better the system. You do a tremendous job, many times working with your hands tied because of the time you are required to do record keeping and other requirements that are even more cumbersome. These things take you away from what you are needed to be doing, and that is teaching our kids. I for one am very proud of you and your school, so please don't second guess anything that I say. I am sorry that you took it as a negative comment."
Linda Hoover went on to say, "We trust our administration and we trust you as teachers. If we didn't we would let you know."
Superintendent Robin Daquilante said she discussed the issue with the board after the last meeting. "I gave them my word that I would speak to the teachers," she said. "I did spend part of my next day at Boreman speaking to teachers and passing on to them the confidence that you as a board have in the things they do."
Wyatt then said that he couldn't speak for the other four board members, but that he would anyway, "We are very proud of what you do and of your school, we know what you do."
Board member P.J. Wells agreed, "W are proud of the entire school system, Tyler County Schools are very much admired in this state. When you mention the fact that you're on the Tyler County Board of Education, they say you guys have the best school system in the state."
Board members Larry Thomas and Ken Hunt also praised the efforts of the teachers and the administration. Both were also proud of the achievements and test scores of the schools. It was mentioned that they like what they see in the teachers' efforts.
All of the board members mentioned that the concerns they have are not with the schools, but with the government's efforts to take control of the schools from the local boards. Hunt mentioned that it has been an ongoing effort for many years and he warned that it is getting closer and they need to fight back.
Teacher Joyce Haggerty stated she was very concerned that social networking was having a negative effect as well on the schools and that parents are threatening to home school. She didn't know the answer, but she felt that with home schooling children miss out on social skills that are needed.
The board reiterated their support for the teachers and the school system, stating that no system is perfect but they have full confidence in this one.