WHEELING - Teachers and staff with Ohio County Schools kicked off the new school year Wednesday, and they we're encouraged to inspire both the dreams and the "awesomeness" of the district's students when classes begin next week.
About 800 school employees gathered in the Performing Arts Center at Wheeling Park High School for an athletic-themed pep rally to inspire their passion for education. WPHS band members played for the group prior to the start of the rally, and as the employees entered they were handed pom-poms to wave during the event. At the end, members of the WPHS football team and cheerleaders joined administrators on stage to wish the staff well this school year.
Keynote speaker was Jim Harris, a positive behavior interventions and supports coordinator with Marshall University, as well as a former football player with Morehead State University. He told the teachers if they are to inspire their students, they first must learn their students' dreams. And if they a student doesn't have a dream, they should push that student toward finding their own "awesomeness," or that talent at which they excel.
Photo by Joselyn King
Assistant Superintendent Bernie Dolan is joined by Wheeling Park High School
football players and cheerleaders Wednesday for the start of the 2014-2015 school year.
"It seems like we're missing out," Harris said to the employees about education. "We don't seem to have a lot of energy and passion anymore ... My idea about how we get the best out of people is that people do their best when they feel safe, and that they matter. Two basic human needs. When I'm intertwined with the supports of my success, I feel safe. When my success is celebrated and appreciated, I matter."
He also encouraged the staff not to be afraid to reach out and "hug their neighbors."
"But make sure you get permission first," he said. "That's how felonies start."
Ohio County Teacher of the Year Gail Adams said it is important to involve parents in a student's education, and that sometimes teachers have to provide guidance and coach parents on how they can best help their children.
Superintendent Dianna Vargo told all those present to share excitement and enthusiasm for the school year ahead.
"All of us generally care about the well-being and academic growth of our students," she said. "Our mutual goal is to show strong leadership, and inspire our students to dream and achieve ... Working together, we can coach each other, our parents, and most importantly, we can coach our students for success in college, career and citizenship. We will achieve that goal."
Board of Education President Shane Mallett also addressed the employees. He said as the son of two teachers, he has a great deal of respect for them.
"There always seems to be some disconnect between the board and the staff," he said. "You are the most important asset of this school system. For us to help you, we want you to have respect for us, and we will have that respect for you. If there's a problem you're having that's not getting taken care of, we want to know about it. We want to help you. We have to listen to our most important asset to make sure our children receive the best education in the state of West Virginia. There will be no repercussions, and no one talking behind your back. The Gestapo won't be coming to your door to ask you why you've been talking to a board member."