February 10, 2017 - Volume 37 Issue 2


Gov. Jim Justice’s Chief of Staff, Nick Casey, joined state Supt. Michael Martirano, West Virginia Board of Education President Tom Campbell and representatives from Toyota Motor Manufacturing of West Virginia and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield on Wednesday to present the 2017 West Virginia Teacher of the Year, Toni Poling, with a check for $5,000 and a new Toyota car.

“Toni Poling is a shining example of how great West Virginia’s educators truly are,” Justice said. “If we would just give our educators the freedom to teach, just imagine what our students could achieve. Our educators are under-appreciated and the truth is they have one of the most important jobs. We need to honor our teachers every single day for their hard work.”

Poling has taught English to 11th and 12th graders at Fairmont Senior High School for 11 years, using innovation and technology to bring the subject to life for her students.

“I am incredibly honored to represent West Virginia teachers as Teacher of the Year,” Poling said. “Though teaching is the most challenging enterprise I've ever undertaken, it’s also one of the most rewarding. Walking into my classroom and learning with my amazing students is one of the best parts of my day, and I look forward to sharing my experience with my colleagues on the national level.”

Toyota donated a new car to Poling to use for one year as she travels across the state, fulfilling her duties as Teacher of the Year.

“Teaching is a profession worthy of our utmost respect,” Leah Curry, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia. “Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia is thrilled to be a part of the West Virginia Teacher of the Year Award, as the award recognizes exceptional teachers who display enthusiasm and dedication to their students every day. On behalf of all our team members, congratulations, Toni Poling.” 

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia also honored Poling, presenting her with a $5,000 check.

“Highmark West Virginia is honored to recognize our state’s Teacher of the Year for the 16th consecutive year,” Jim Fawcett, Highmark West Virginia president, said. “We know that Toni Poling will serve as a role model for her students and peers throughout West Virginia, inspiring others by demonstrating how the highest standards of her profession can be achieved in the classroom.”


West Virginia is positively highlighted in a report released this month by the Education Commission of the States for the strides made in pre-kindergarten funding and the resulting effects for West Virginia students. The report stresses the meaningful effects pre-K education has on students’ academic success and applauds West Virginia for its efforts in incorporating early education into its planning and funding.

West Virginia is one of six states nationally to meet all 10 quality benchmarks standards according to the National Institute for Early Education Research, and one of 10 states that fund pre-K programs using their school funding program. The West Virginia Department of Education outlined specific goals for closing the third-grade literacy gap, including a component that states all four-year-olds must have access to voluntary pre-K programs. This resulted in a 75 percent participation rate for the 2015-16 school year.

Additionally, in 2013, West Virginia ranked 46th in a national ranking for the National Assessment of Educational Progress in third-grade reading. The results for 2015 show that West Virginia has moved up six spots to 40th in third-grade reading.

“We are committed to a statewide early childhood focus to provide children with a firm foundation as they start their academic careers,” state Supt. Michael Martirano said. “Research tells us a pre-K focus has a meaningful impact on a student’s future academic success.”

West Virginia passed legislation in 2002 to increase participation in pre-K programs within a 10-year period, encouraging local education agencies the time and support they needed to develop their capacity for pre-K programs.


West Virginia Board of Education President Michael Green and Vice President Lloyd Jackson resigned their positions with the State Board effective immediately on January 31. Green and Jackson issued the following statements:

Michael Green:

I was asked to serve on the state school board back in 2009 by Governor Manchin. I do not come from the “education community.” My years of experience come as a result of being a successful technologist, business executive, board member and board chairman in both the non-profit and commercial world. However, I will say that after seven plus years, I believe I can hold my own concerning all issues related to education processes and policies.

Among other responsibilities, Board members are appointed or elected to oversee the activity of an organization, to challenge management and to ensure accountability. Board members should be selected from a cross section of people with a variety of experiences, [and] have passion for excellence and a strong work ethic. Believe me, to do it right, being on this school board takes a lot of time and a lot of patience with far too many stakeholders to keep happy. Board members should not be people who are reluctant to challenge the status quo and demand improvements. To that extent, I look back on my tenure at the state school board and feel confident and gratified that I have fulfilled that responsibility.

In spite of what many think, we are NOT 49th and 50th in the nation in everything. Since the seminal SB359 educational reform bill was passed in 2013, we have come a long way. Educational reform is a marathon not a sprint. Graduation rate is up, performance on summative assessment tests are up, Education Week’s ‘Annual Quality Counts’ has us listed as number 35, our Career and Technical Education program is a model program for the entire nation. There is a lot to celebrate as well as much more to do.

The issues facing our great state are daunting to say the least. The mission to provide a first class education to our children must be our number one priority. I sincerely hope that those who succeed me on this board focus their attention on the kids and always make decisions that are exclusively related to the welfare and safety of the kids.

For me, I leave with a heavy heart. Yet, my passion for improving the lives of my fellow West Virginia citizens is still there…and has been since the day I moved to the Mountain State. Besides spending a lot more time with my family, I will devote my energy to my other passion and that is working with entrepreneurs and early stage companies, providing much needed mentorship and funding. Creating jobs and improving the economy here in West Virginia must be among our number one priorities.

I hope and I pray that our governor and legislature will make wise and informed decisions during the upcoming months. The future of our state depends on that.

I love West Virginia, I love the people, and I will always be grateful to all of the great people, too many to name, that I have met during my tenure on the state school board.

Lloyd Jackson:

It has been my pleasure to serve on the board of education for over five years. When Governor Tomblin asked me to serve on the board, I was not seeking the appointment but was happy to serve Governor Tomblin and, more importantly, the young men and women who should be the primary focus of the board. At the suggestion of Governor Tomblin, the board helped develop significant policies that are calculated to improve student achievement in West Virginia. Among those are assuring our students receive 180 separate days of instruction, and developing an accountability system that accurately measures the performance of our students through aligned standards and assessments, and through an A-through-F system that reveals to students, parents and other stakeholders exactly how their schools are performing.

It is apparent that Governor Justice wants to pursue a different course. Additionally, with the resignation of Dr. Martirano effective June 30, 2017, it will be imperative for the state board to begin the process for selecting a new state superintendent. With all these changes pending, I believe it best to allow a new member to make the necessary decisions.

Editor’s Note: Following Governor Jim Justice’s January 16 Inauguration, he appointed three state board of education members – former Putnam County superintendent Chuck Hatfield, former Hardy County superintendent Barbara Whitecotton,  and Miller Hall, a former Raleigh County schools central office official. Shortly thereafter, Gov. Justice appointed former Fayette County school principal and long-time legislator David Perry to the state board.