The Rhythm Of Learning
By Priscilla Haden

March 15, 2005

Have you ever danced with a partner who doesn’t have any rhythm? You move your right foot; he steps on your left. You sway forward and unfortunately, so does he. The result is a pitiful performance where your toes get stepped on and you walk off the dance floor as onlookers snicker. Luckily, the West Virginia Board of Education and our state’s new leader, Governor Joe Manchin, don’t have to worry about being offbeat.  

Recently, I read Governor Manchin’s thoughts on education titled, Growing Our Future by Investing in Education. In this document the Governor says, “If West Virginia’s system of education is to become a true source of statewide revitalization then it must implement strategic and intelligent policies that promote the greatest good of those it purports to serve.” As a member of the Board of Education, I couldn’t agree more.  

The Board is vested with general supervision of the state's elementary and secondary schools. Members establish policies and rules to ensure the oversight and monitoring of a thorough and efficient educational system. We accomplish this mission by striving to achieve the recently refined Goals for West Virginia Public Schools, which include an expectation that all students master or exceed grade level standards; all students receive a seamless pre-kindergarten through 20 curriculum; and all students are educated by highly qualified personnel.  

There is no doubt that these goals align with all that Governor Manchin wants to accomplish during his four years in office.  

Governor Manchin understands the importance of early childhood education and so does the Board. In 2004, the Board put its stamp of approval on a position paper regarding the value of pre-kindergarten education in the state. The Board wants children to come to kindergarten with the skills necessary to be successful in school.  

Governor Manchin is committed to the continued increase in academic achievement for all students and so is the Board. County School System Improvement Teams were developed in all 55 counties as part of the Framework for High Performing School Systems. The Framework provides direction for building the capacity of county school systems, which, in turn, will build the capacity of their own schools. The Framework will ultimately raise student achievement levels for all student sub-groups and close the achievement gaps that exist among those sub-groups.  

Governor Manchin wants to build educational leadership and so does the Board. The Board is searching for innovative ways to certify teachers in critical areas of need such as math and science. In 2004, substantial changes were made to State Board Policy 5202: Minimum Requirements for the Licensure of Professional/ Paraprofessional Personnel and Advanced Salary Classification including alternative routes to certification, and language reflecting recent legislation regarding certification of out-of-state applicants.  

Governor Manchin wants to utilize technology in an effort to transform teaching and learning and so does the Board. West Virginia was the first state to have computers in all of its k-12 classrooms. West Virginia has Internet access in every school in the state. Distance learning programs are growing in number and in strength. And the educational technology staff of the West Virginia Department of Education is teaming with First Lady Gayle Manchin and the West Virginia Legislature to continue to create and develop world class learning opportunities for our children.  

I am proud of what the state’s educational community has already accomplished and am looking forward to the challenges ahead. The Board and Governor Manchin agree that education is more important than ever before. I am confident that the rhythm of learning is stepping in the right direction.  

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