MASON — A group of Wahama High School educators have been spending a portion of their summer enlightening other school officials on what makes their school unique.
Wahama Principal Kenny Bond said he, along with Assistant Principal Melissa VanMeter and members of the school’s academic leadership team, spoke at the West Virginia School Superintendents Association conference. As a result of that presentation, they will now speak at two additional events.
Bond said it began last school year when members of the Office of Educational Performance Audits (OEPA) agency visited the county. The OEPA is one agency through which the West Virginia Board of Education fulfills its responsibility to supervise the schools and school systems.
Among the agency’s duties are determining or identifying any deficiencies in meeting standards established by the state board, staff development needs, and school best practices that improve student and school performance. It also makes recommendations to the state board for recognition to promote the use of best practices.
Bond said “best practices” are items clearly proven with data to improve student achievement. Because of the best practices at Wahama as shown during the audit, the school’s team was invited to speak at the superintendents conference.
Teachers making with presentation with Bond and VanMeter were Lori Zuspan, representing math; Scott Johnson, science; Melissa Sheets, English; and Dan Morhardt, social studies.
The staff was specifically asked to detail their process on Professional Learning Community, or “PLC”, days. Bond said the teachers meet in subject core groups and decide: 1. What they want the students to know; 2. How do they know if the students know it; and, 3. What should be done if they do, or don’t, know it.
He continued the teachers complete common formative assessments or “snapshots” of student achievement. The teachers assess the students periodically to see if they are “getting it” or if they need to go back and review. The teachers discuss the state standards, determine which are the most important to be taught in their school, and meet throughout the year to see if those standards should stay on the list or be changed.
As a result, test scores at Wahama have increased. And, according to Bond, the latest scores have even topped those that were publicized last year.
The Wahama team will be making the presentation at least two more times. The first will be in Mason County on Aug. 10, and the second in Monroe County on Aug. 11. The Monroe County invitation came after the superintendent heard it at the state conference, Bond said.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing who lives in Mason County.