Education: Doddridge County can provide good lessons

You’ve heard the phrase “it takes a village,” and at least in the case of Doddridge County Schools, Superintendent Adam Cheeseman said the theory applies to a child’s academic success, too.

“We are living in a community that has continued to make education a top priority,” he said. “You’ve got to have buy-in from the entire county for it to work.”

What has worked in Doddridge County is the effort to bring the county’s academic performance up from the basement of state test score rankings in 2013-14 to being ranked fifth in the state by the end of the 2017-18 school year. Cheeseman calls the effort a holistic approach — emotional and physical wellbeing as well as academic performance are priorities.

“If we take care of the kids like that, we will see the academic results,” he said.

Doddridge County Schools makes sure very child is well fed during the school week — and that those who need it have a bag of groceries sent home each weekend (courtesy of Salem IGA).

Staff is trained to identify the signs of trauma in students and are able to draw on the resources of four mental health specialists and a full-time social worker employed by the school system.

Children whose needs are being met more regularly and who have the kind of support network in place in Doddridge County Schools do better academically, and it is showing.

“I do believe we are ahead of the curve here,” Cheeseman said.

It is, of course, no secret that Doddridge County has benefited enormously from the oil and natural gas industry — both in the form of increased property revenue and the desire of the companies involved to be seen making their mark on the community. The degree to which that change in economic status has made resources available cannot be understated.

Two lessons are to be learned, then. One, what is happening in Doddridge County works for its students. There is much from which other school districts could take an example –including the idea that everyone in the county has to be on board. But two, something about Doddridge County’s economy had to change for all this to occur. The same old, same old had been doing a disservice to students for too long.