State Board

March 11, 2011 - Volume 31 Issue 17

State Board / State Department of Education News


By Jorea Marple


Writer Robin Cook once said, “Education is more than a luxury; it is a responsibility that society owes to itself.” Education is indeed a responsibility I take personally as I begin my new role as West Virginia’s 27th state superintendent of schools.


My entire professional life has been in public education; it is the work that I am passionate about, that I love and honor. There has seldom been a day during the last 40 years that I have not felt the great blessings that come from having the opportunity to touch the hearts and minds of our children.


Over the past few weeks, I often have been asked what I would like to accomplish in West Virginia schools and how I would address the challenges facing public education. I believe there are four critical areas that all of us must consider if we are to significantly improve our schools:


We must more effectively serve the personal learning needs of each student. We lose far too many students because of disinterest or because academic and personal challenges have not been met. Every one of the 280,000-plus students in our public schools has unique talents and abilities that we have an obligation to recognize and enhance. This commitment to individual student success must be the cornerstone of everything we do. We must have a curriculum that emphasizes the arts, music, dance, drama, foreign languages, physical activity and wellness, career readiness, technology fluency as well as a solid foundation in core subjects, such as science, social studies, reading and math.


Already, the West Virginia Board of Education has taken steps to incorporate 21st century learning into the classroom with the addition of world-class rigor to core subjects. The 21st century learning plan is called “Global21: Student’s deserve it. The world demands it.” It makes an important change to align state standards with national and international standards.


We must assure we have great teachers in every classroom who are honored, supported and rewarded because being an educator is a tough job. West Virginians should not stand for teacher pay in our state to rank 47th among other states. Yes, teachers are accountable for every student’s progress but with this obligation also must come the respectability of adequate salaries as well as the time and the tools to do an effective job.


We must provide greater flexibility to schools to meet the 21st century learning requirements. Many of the ways we operate schools today were determined more than 100 years ago. The length of the school year, teaching separate subjects from textbooks, or organizing instruction in classrooms of 25 kids of the same age may not be the best way to engage our students. We must be smart enough to eliminate laws and policies that no longer work and use 21st century technology to excite our kids about learning. 


We must convince all parents, agencies, community and business leaders, and legislators that they have an important role in improving our schools. The potential for great schools lies within each community. I am convinced that we can make great leaps forward if we can rally the concerted and unified efforts of parents, community agencies, lawmakers and business leaders to provide the support needed for our schools to improve. The many problems that educators face are often rooted in issues beyond the walls of the school. These problems will take all of us to solve.


As I travel across this state, I am humbled by the potential I see in our students. Their creativity, joy, interest in the world around them, and sense of right and wrong lift my spirit. I want to use my time as state superintendent to enhance these dispositions, talents and abilities. My hopes and dreams for our students are the same ones I had raising my own two children: to develop children who are healthy, responsible, self-directed and who have the knowledge and skills necessary to live satisfying and productive lives; in essence, “Good Kids Doing Great Work.”


I look forward to meeting with parents and teachers, principals and students, superintendents and business leaders, policymakers and service personnel as I travel around the state. The insights and opinions of those most directly involved in the education of our children will prove invaluable as we plan our pathway forward. 


There is no question that critical work awaits us. Former South African President Nelson Mandela once said, “There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children.” I promise to treat the children of West Virginia as if they were my own as we work together to prepare them for the world that awaits them.


Jorea Marple is West Virginia’s state school superintendent.


Note: Photograph used by permission of the Charleston Daily Mail



High school culinary students from Raleigh and Webster counties captured top honors during the 10th Annual West Virginia ProStart Hospitality Cup competition in Morgantown.


Fourteen ProStart programs served up a hardy portion of competition as the Academy of Careers and Technology in Beckley won first place in the culinary competition, and Webster County High School was first in the management competition. Wheeling Park High School in Ohio County was second in the culinary competition and Webster County was third. In management, the Academy of Careers and Technology took second, followed by Wheeling Park High School in third.


The annual two-day event is conducted by the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Hospitality Education and Training (WVHEAT). It allows high school juniors and seniors to show off their culinary and management skills gained through the ProStart program offered through career and technical education programs statewide. Each team, composed of three to five students, prepares a gourmet meal developed with an industry mentor.


Students also must develop a business proposal for a new restaurant concept consisting of a defined restaurant concept, supporting menu and supporting marketing plan. The students present their comprehensive written proposal to a panel of judges who act as potential investors. Competitors are tested on their critical thinking skills by reacting to potential management challenges related to their concept.


“Knowledge, skill, motivation and teamwork are key factors of success at this competition and in the 21st century,” state Supt. Jorea Marple said. “All of the competitors should be proud of their performance.”


The ProStart competition is a rigorous event similar to a popular TV cooking competition. Teams have one hour to prepare a meal, including dessert, using only portable gas burners. Teams are judged by a panel of professional chefs, restaurateurs and other culinary professionals.


Winners advance to the National ProStart Invitational in Overland Park, Kan., in April. First, second, third, fourth and fifth place teams from both the culinary and management competitions at the national level will be awarded college scholarships totaling more than $400,000. Top state finishers receive scholarships totaling about $24,000. Smaller scholarships are offered to the second- and third-place state winners.


Other schools competing were Boone Career and Technical Center, Buckhannon-Upshur High School, Calhoun-Gilmer Career and Tech Center, Greenbrier East High School, James Rumsey Technical Institute, Marion Career and& Technical Center, Mason Career and Technical Center, Mineral County Technical Center, Mingo Career and Technical Center, United Technical Center in Clarksburg and Wood County Technical Center.


For more information, contact Donna Wilkes, ProStart coordinator for WV HEAT, at (304) 558-6321or, or the Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.



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