POINT PLEASANT — Mason County Schools held a staff opening day ceremony Monday in the Point Pleasant Jr./Sr. High School auditorium to recognize outstanding staff members, welcome new staff members and kick off the start of the new academic year.
The ceremony opened with a performance by students of the Tiger Music Orff Ensemble before Superintendent Suzanne Dickens welcomed attending staff.
“All of you have made a difference in the lives of our students and their families. The board and I are very proud of our schools and the work you do, and we extend a very sincere and warm welcome back to school,” she said.
Dickens also spoke about the progress of Mason County’s schools, the upcoming school visits from the Office of Education Performance Audits (OEPA) in January, and changes in OEPA’s evaluation process, such as the A-F grading system that will be implemented in the 2014-15 school year.
Dickens recognized Roosevelt Elementary staff for their Progress Reward School status and said she thinks the county currently has all A, B and C schools.
School board president Greg Fowler spoke about the goals of the school board for the upcoming year.
“We have a good board. We have a board that’s committed to having an open door policy with you folks. We’re committed to working together for the best that we can be for you folks and our school system. If you folks have a problem — hopefully not — if you do, and you go through the proper channels and you’re not satisfied with it, we’re there for you. We plan to meet with each school. We want to be part of the operation. We want to help if the schools have a problem, we want to help try and solve what we need. We want to take every school to the highest level we can take them,” he said.
Fowler also spoke about the financial status of the school system and what the staff and school board can do to help improve it.
“We’re also a business. We’re the largest employer in Mason County, and when we have a business, we have financial obligations. Unfortunately, our financial status is not the best in the world with a decline in taxes. That means our income is not where we’d like it to be. So we’re going to ask each and every one of you guys to help us out with little things like coming to work every day. That really means a lot when it comes to the financial status of our business,” he said. “As a board, we’ve reduced our meetings from three meetings a month to two to show that we’re dedicated to getting our finances where we need them to be.”
Dickens then presented staff members with annual awards.
Service Personnel of the Year was awarded to In-School Suspension Teacher Barbara Mitchell, of Wahama Jr./Sr. High School.
Teacher of the Year was awarded to Science Teacher Jodie Roush, of Wahama Jr./Sr. High School.
Reading Teacher of the Year was awarded to second-grade teacher Laura Cullen, of New Haven Elementary.
Carrie Burns, fifth-grade science teacher at Point Pleasant Intermediate School, was also recognized for her 2013 RESA II Exemplary Demonstration teacher award.
Dickens concluded the ceremony with her perspective about the upcoming school year.
“I leave you with this today: The glass is half full, and there are plenty of opportunities to go around — my staff hears that all the time. You can choose to be positive or negative. It’s your choice. I choose the glass to be half full,” she said.
Mason County schools will resume classes Aug. 14.