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Wirt Schools continues educational tradition

ELIZABETH – Wirt County Schools continues a tradition of educational excellence in a changing world, the superintendent said.

“The proud tradition of education in Wirt County spans well over 100 years,” said Wirt County Schools Superintendent MaryJane Pope-Albin. “This tradition, as it was in 1892 and still is today in 2014, is firmly anchored in family and community.

“From the traditional one-room school houses of our past to the one-to-one computer environment of our classrooms today these same standards still drive our passion for education of all students.”

Pope-Albin became the new superintendent in 2013, succeeding Daniel Metz who retired.

Wirt County Schools was designated as one of the Success Schools and Transition School, which are the top two distinctions, in a group of five, that the West Virginia Department of Education uses to rate a school. The measures include graduation rate, attendance rate, participation rate, achievement rate and growth rate.

“All the schools celebrated their success,” Pope-Albin said. “The middle school and primary center celebrated by having each student release a balloon with a message on it about their success.

“The balloons had a message that asked if found, please email us and tell us where the balloon landed. Students received messages from Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia.”

At the beginning of this school year, a complete $1.8 million renovation to the HVAC system for the Wirt County Primary and Middle Schools was done replacing all existing equipment with new, state of the art systems allowing for remote access, troubleshooting and monitoring of the heating, air and ventilation systems of the two schools. The project was made possible with the assistance of the School Building Authority of West Virginia funding totaling $1.4 million.

Wirt County Schools continue to lead the way in the integration of technology into teaching and learning for all students, Pope-Albin said.

“Netbooks, laptops and iPads are all used in place of traditional textbooks,” she said. “In addition, students have immediate access to virtual classrooms that offer the opportunity for them to take advantage of online course options. This provides every student in our schools and even those who may need to work from home the advantages that we might not be able to off them in our school buildings.”

Since Wirt County is a rural community, technology continues to help students learn and gives teachers new opportunities to educate their students in innovative ways.

“We are a rural community that reaches out to the world and takes in those experiences that enrich the education provided by the highly qualified teaching staff,” Pope-Albin said.

As a comprehensive high school, Wirt County High School’s Career and Technical Education programs are performance-based and employment-oriented. Students are taught the occupational skills necessary to enter the work force or continue to a post-secondary education setting.

Wirt County High School students recently met for a ‘chat’ with Sen. Joe Manchin III for 30 minutes before the senator walked to the Senate floor for a vote in Washington, D.C., via a Skype session. The students asked the senator questions.

They discussed the senator’s daily routine and how he manages time for his family, what the senator would like to see improved and funded and gun laws.

The teachers continue to provide students with many educational opportunities, Pope-Albin said.

“Great instruction in each and every classroom is the hallmark of our schools,” Pope-Albin said. “Teachers are highly qualified and professionally active with students in curriculum that is interactive through technology and performance activities and organizations.”

The Wirt County Primary Center includes a Pre-K Collaborative that serves four-year-olds and eligible three-year-olds through a hands-on active exploration of their learning environment, problem solving, communication, creativity and use of their imaginations.

The use of data notebooks by students involves each and every student in a personalized approach to learning, she said. Additional support is provided through partnerships with parents, community and families.

“Wirt County Schools are growing, when averaging over the past five years, this continuous growth is in the top 5 percent of all of the counties of West Virginia,” Pope-Albin said. “Unlike many other counties in West Virginia, Wirt County is growing, student enrollment has increased. Wirt County Schools has had the distinction of being the smallest school district in West Virginia. We have grown out of that distinction. Our goal has been to prove that being the smallest is not always a negative thing because we have been able to achieve great things.”

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