As West Virginians prepare for this year’s legislative session, the West Virginia Board of Education is packed and ready for an education reform journey. We expect that educational issues will be at the forefront of this session. While there will be many turns and bumps, our path is very clear. Our nine-member board will make decisions and support student-centered change, which ultimately creates an educational system for West Virginia that is second to none.
A West Virginia Board of Education member takes on one of the most important responsibilities that can be assigned to any citizen: helping to plan the education of our state's youth. Education is the foundation of equality, a promise to our children that they will have the opportunity to succeed.
As board members, we take that responsibility seriously and work faithfully to represent the community as stewards of the state’s educational resources and advocates for public education. One example of our work is the recently released “Audit to Action: Students First” report (http://wvde.state.wv.us/policies/audit-response.html).
The current members of the West Virginia Board of Education are well suited for our role, with a wealth of experience, including lifelong educators, businessmen, technology entrepreneurs and legislators. Yet, despite our expansive knowledge and experience, some members are unknown to many residents of our great state. Let me tell you about them.
First, I will tell you that I come from a family that honors and respects teachers. My father was a longtime educator and from him I learned about dedication and commitment. I have applied those characteristics to my work as a businessman and technology entrepreneur in West Virginia. A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, I received a bachelor’s degree in business from St. Leo College in Florida.
Board Vice President Gayle Manchin of Charleston is an experienced educator having taught in Marion County Schools and at Fairmont State University. She holds a bachelor’s degree in language arts and education and two master’s degrees in reading and educational technology leadership.
Board Secretary Robert Dunlevy of Wheeling joined the state board after 20 years as a local board of education member in Ohio County. He shares an understanding and is sensitive to local education issues and needs. In addition, he holds a bachelor’s degree in education and brings to the table decades of experience in the business world.
Thomas W. Campbell, a certified public accountant and small business owner from Lewisburg, brings valuable financial and legislative experience to the board. He has 27 years of business management experience and 24 years of public service, including 16 years in the House of Delegates, where he most recently served as vice chairman of the House Finance Committee. Past legislative roles also include chairman of the Education Committee, chairman of the Pensions and Retirement Committee, and House chairman of the Joint Committee on Technology. He also serves as one West Virginia’s representatives to the Southern Regional Education Board.
Tina Combs, the newest member from Martinsburg, brings business and workforce development experience as the president and CEO of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce. She also has served as chairwoman of the Blue Ridge Community and Technical College Board of Governors and as treasurer of the Berkeley County Business Education Partnership. She has a bachelor’s degree in organization leadership and development, as well as certificates in community economic development and nonprofit organizational management.
Michael Green of Morgantown has a background in technology and software development. Now retired, he has been an adviser, investor and board member for several privately held technology companies. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Boston University and a master’s in numerical science from Johns Hopkins University. He is currently chairman of the board of Pittsburgh-based Landslide Technologies. He dedicates much of his time to working with early stage companies, investment groups and coaching entrepreneurs.
Lloyd G. Jackson II, a Hamlin attorney and businessman, brings 12 years of experience as state senator, which included a role as state Senate Education chairman. During his service, he was the lead sponsor of the Promise Scholarship legislation and comprehensive early childhood education, which created the Universal Pre-K program. West Virginia has repeatedly received national accolades for its preschool programs since the program’s adoption.
Dr. William White of Bluefield brings higher education experience to the board as a university administrator and an adjunct professor. With degrees in chemistry, mathematics and leadership, he also brings experience as a research chemist and pharmaceutical company executive.
While there is no ideal model of a board member, and while each member serves with a unique style, background and perspective, our collective experience means West Virginia has a Board of Education ready to put its talent and insight to work for the children of our state. No matter outside influences, we are dedicated to remain on a path of ensuring the successful future of our children and our state.
Linger is president of the West Virginia Board of Education, overseeing West Virginia’s 728 schools and 280,000 students.