By Kyle Lovern
Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part feature on the recent Mingo County Board of Education workshop.
DELBARTON – The Mingo County Board of Education and newly appointed Superintendent of Schools Dr. Rob Bobbera all agree that there is a need to move the school system in a positive direction.
All five members: Dave Farley, Jackie Branch, June Glover, Bill Duty and Mark Colegrove met with Howard O’Cull, who is the executive director of the West Virginia School Board Association, for a workshop on Thursday at Connolly Memorial Baptist Church in Delbarton. O’Cull wanted to meet at a neutral location to discuss the future of the Mingo County school system.
Bobbera started the meeting by saying he had a principal’s academy at the central offices located at Cinderella Hollow and shared his expectations with them.
“We have Beth Kingery coming in to work with our principals on leadership and culture,” Bobbera said. “They have two good books that they are working out of.”
“Creating a positive culture is very important,” Bobbera said.
“I talked to the principals about my expectations,” he added.
The superintendent stressed the need to not “look in the rear view mirror” and focus on the future. “If we live our life looking in the past, that is all we will ever see,” Bobbera said.
“There are many good, positive things happening in our schools,” Bobbera said. “There is a groundswell of positive that I haven’t experienced in many years.”
“We need to help our students to look toward the future,” he added. “It’s a matter of choice. We can achieve tremendous things.”
Bobbera, a former teacher and counselor, said being positive is important. He wants to see a commitment to the students. “We have some of the best teachers and administrators,” he said.
“The future is wide open,” Bobbera said. “I think we are on a positive road.”
“But where do we go with it,” he asked? “It goes back to local control.”
Bobbera asked board members if they wanted local control back.
Colegrove and Duty spoke up first and both agreed that they would like to see the Mingo County school system gain back control.
Farley, the new school board president, said it is better for the local citizens to be able to talk to a board member and feel like the board member will be able to help them with any problems.
Bobbera said he is a “hands-on superintendent” and stressed the fact that he is a Mingo County native and was educated in this school system. Members of his family also were educators.
“My goal is to help you get to that point,” Bobbera said.
Glover, a longtime educator and former board member, said, “It goes back to culture. We know the people in this area. We can talk the ‘Mingo lingo’ and fix what’s wrong. We can get our people to understand better than someone in Charleston.”
“I think all of us want what is better. We need to fix what is wrong and do it right,” Glover added.
Branch, also a former board member who was re-elected in May, said, “We have excellent teachers and administrators.”
The Mingo County school system has been under state control for 10 straight years.
Duty said, “I agree with what has been said. We represent both the moral sense and legal sense in what happens to the children of this county.
“At the same time,” Duty said, “We need more flexibility. It would be very positive to have local control. But that needs to be defined.”
Duty also stressed “truth” and “transparency.”
Glover said, “We need to present a united front – with whatever it takes.”
“We all have certain skills and abilities we can offer,” Colegrove added. “I will do what I can to help get local control back.”
“We need to let the state know that they can trust us,” Branch said.
“We need to do whatever it takes,” Glover added.
Kyle Lovern is the sports editor of the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at email@example.com or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277, or on Twitter @KyleLovern.