Braxton Citizens' News, Schools

Superintendent Burge-Tetrick looks toward improvements

New super already busy with positive changes, additions

By Shirley Shuman

Those who have paid attention will have seen the impact that Dr. Donna Burge Tetrick has already made on the Braxton County Schools system. The most visible may be the return of the    activity buses which allow more students to participate in sports and other after-school activities. Others include additional classes in some cases and program changes in others. These, however, barely touch what Dr. Burge-Tetrick wants to see completed.

Perhaps her most prominent goal is “to provide a clean, safe school environment,” and through that she hopes “to instill pride in both students and teachers.” That pride, the superintendent emphasized, “makes both want to be there.” Dr. Burge-Tetrick emphasized that she is focused on “well-rounded education which includes athletics and which develops students by providing any opportunities we can.”

To demonstrate how she works, the superintendent explained her managing to obtain funds for the activity buses. She decided, she said, to eliminate a position which she felt “did not directly impact students,” that of the BCHS athletic director/vice principal, and use those funds for the buses. Both the middle school and high school still have athletic directors, but without the huge expense that once existed.  “I restructured that system,” she said,  “and it has worked well.”

The career-technical education program at Braxton County Middle School has also been restructured. The middle school, according to Burge-Tetrick, will actually be offering experiences in 16 different areas which range from Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources to Health Services and even Law, Public Safety, Corrections and Security. The other 13 are just as challenging and interesting.

One project well underway is a new culinary arts lab. The county has just purchased new refrigerators, dishwashers, cooking stoves and microwaves for the lab. Dr. Burge-Tetrick explained that this new lab “will support the delivery of the new programs and provide a place to prepare food that the students will grow in the middle school greenhouse.” She added.  “Students will have the opportunity to learn some cooking skills while learning about careers in this field.” Saying that these programs “will be rolled out this year,” she noted, “It will take some time for students to enjoy the full benefit of these new programs.”

At Braxton County High School, adminstrators have implemented a Hospitality and Tourism Program for the current school year. For this program, students will complete courses in Hospitality and Tourism, Travel West Virginia, (a state-adopted course developed by the late Jane Dittman, a Braxton County native), Adventure Tourism, and Outdoor Education. The West Virginia Department of Education states that the purpose of this program “is to reach the student who loves the outdoors and provide experiences that may help in working or crating employment opportunities in tourism.”

Revision of the BCHS  Business Program now allows students to learn to Code, create images and animations, and develop video software. An Information Management Program of study focuses on careers that produce images through hands-on activities and experiences. Students will also incorporate journalistic principles in design and layout of print and Web publications.

Completion of one of Dr. Burge-Tetrick’s plans will not only impact but also please the public, especially sports fans.  Renovation of the high school gymnasium is currently out for bid. The superintendent explained that plans include “having the gym painted, [installing] an actual gymnasium floor as well as bleachers five tiers high.”  She noted, “[With that, teams] can play games there.”   Dr. Burge-Tetrick also plans to involve the welding, electricity, and carpentry programs in some of the renovation which, she said, “will save some money and also provide some pride for students involved.” She hopes that a modern gymnasium will also provide pride in all the high school students and staff.

Dr. Burge-Tetrick insists she has not been neglecting the elementary schools. She has made moves to provide a cleaner environment in each of those schools as they are definitely part of her desire to provide a safe and secure environment for all. In addition, she explained, “I have unsplit some grades, and that is very important for me.”  She added, “My job [for the elementary schools] is to be there for them and to have high expectations for them.”  She feels she has conveyed those expectations to all. Her goals for all schools appear to be, as she said, “to keep things moving and growing,” and she added, “I’m so invested in this.” Something which the Braxton County Schools superintendent wants for current and future students is what she feels she had as she moved through the county schools as a student. “When I graduated from this school system, I felt confident about going on to college. I want all kids to have that,” she said.