Four West Virginia Principals Now Serving as Statewide Distinguished Educators

October 30, 2001

The West Virginia Board of Education has selected four exemplary West Virginia principals to work with seriously-impaired schools across the state to improve student achievement. These “Distinguished Educators” will work intensively over the next year in five schools that have been identified by the West Virginia Department of Education as needing on-site technical assistance in areas including instructional leadership, staff development, and curriculum and instruction.  

Dan Zirkle has been assigned to work full-time with Mount View High in McDowell County. Zirkle has taken a year’s leave of absence from his principal duties at PikeView High in Mercer County. The other full-time Distinguished Educator is Dale McVicker who splits his time between West Middle School in Cabell County and Man Junior High in Logan County. McVicker was previously the principal at Kingwood Elementary in Preston County.  

The two other Distinguished Educators will work part-time in the program. Marion Roby has been assigned to Barnes Elementary in Marion County; and Mary Alice Kaufman will work with Peterstown Elementary in Monroe County. Roby was principal at Harrisville Elementary in Ritchie County; and Kaufman retired this year as principal of Mercer Elementary in Mercer County.  

“These principals bring tremendous expertise to these struggling schools,” said State Superintendent Dr. David Stewart. “They will be providing the kind of intense intervention that is necessary to make a substantial impact on student learning.”  

Schools are identified as seriously-impaired if they do not meet the minimum standard for student achievement on the Stanford 9 Achievement Test as set by the West Virginia Board of Education.  

“Three years ago, the State Board directed the department to step in and assist struggling schools,” noted Steve McBride, Executive Director of School Improvement and Instructional Materials. “We have worked with more than 50 schools identified as ‘low-performing’ and have made a substantial impact on these schools as it relates to student performance. The new cadre of Distinguished Educators allows us to provide the kind of focused assistance that can help the more seriously impaired schools make dramatic improvement,” McBride added.  

In their new roles, the educators will serve as mentors to the principal and staff of the schools to which they are assigned. They have already worked with improvement consultant teams to conduct needs assessments to make recommendations about the design and delivery of instruction.  

In addition to the five seriously-impaired schools, the West Virginia Department of Education has identified 19 low-performing schools by analyzing two years of school data that include assessment results, attendance, drop out rates and other criteria.  

These schools have been assigned a department liaison who works within the learning community to bring about improvement. “The overall goal of this effort is to help school systems build capacity to improve student learning,” said McBride. “This year, three additional schools have asked us to step in and help which speaks highly to the caliber of assistance we have been able to provide.”  

The long-range goals of the school improvement process are to reduce the number of schools that need technical assistance, provide instant access to research and best practices, and create a network of schools that received services and they, in turn, will become resources to other schools.  

“Many schools desperately need our help and we simply cannot fail them or our children,” said State Superintendent Dr. Stewart.  


Dan Zirkle (working with Mount View High School, McDowell County) Zirkle was the 2001 Principal of the Year and has been an educator for 27 years. He served as principal of Athens High from 1988-94. He has worked with the Center for Professional Development as a group leader for the Principals’ Academy and has worked extensively with the West Virginia Department of Education on school accreditation. Under this leadership, PikeView received an award from the Southern Regional Education Board for being one of its top 10 “Most Improved Sites.” The school was also awarded a Silver Award for its Healthy and Safe Schools effort.  

Dale McVicker (working with West Middle School, Cabell County and Man Junior High School, Logan County) McVicker has been a principal for more than 30 years, most recently at Kingwood Elementary in Preston County. A Vietnam veteran, McVicker has been a West Virginia Reading Principal of the Year and served as president of the Preston County Principals Association. He worked as a facilitator for the Principals’ Leadership Academy with the Center for Professional Development and has done extensive work with the West Virginia Office of Education Performance Audits as a team leader for on-site reviews.  

Marion Roby (working with Barnes Elementary, Marion County) Roby is an award-winning principal from Harrisville Elementary in Ritchie County. Under his leadership, Harrisville received the West Virginia School of Excellence award, the West Virginia Blue Ribbon award, and in 1997, was recognized nationally as a Blue Ribbon School. He was the first Ritchie County Principal of the Year and led the county in implementing the effective schools program, computer labs, healthy schools programs, and responsible students programs. He has been an educator for 30 years, having worked as a principal for the last 18.  

Mary Alice Kaufman (working with Peterstown Elementary, Monroe County) Kaufman recently retired as principal of Mercer Elementary in Mercer County where she led the school to School of Excellence status. She was one of five finalists in the National Distinguished Principals Program and was named an Outstanding Educator by the West Virginia Education Fund. With more than 40 years experience in education, Kaufman was an active member in the West Virginia Association of Teacher Educators and served on the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Early Childhood Education.  

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