Government, The Braxton Democrat

Legislative Update… By Lori Dittman WV House of Delegates 63rd District

There was a was a flurry of activities this past week in preparation for January Interims and the upcoming session, which will officially begin on Wednesday, January 10, 2024, followed by Governor Jim Justices State of the State address later that night at 7:00 PM.
One of the activities from last week was driving Jedidiah Smith, Director of Operations, WV for Backroads of Appalachia, around the district’s secondary roads and points of interest. One of our state’s assets is our country roads. Backroads of Appalachia maps routes and points of interest on their app for adventurers and motorsports events. They frequently host events in Kentucky and are branching into West Virginia. In February, they will host 24 Hours of Appalachia: Run for the Hills which will traverse 600+ miles from Seneca Rocks to Point Pleasant. The run will also serve as a fundraiser for the West Virginia Children’s Home Society.
Backroads of Appalachia’s mission is “to spark economic growth in the region through motorsports and tourism, supporting local communities while sharing the breathtaking beauty of Appalachia.”
The January Interim meetings began on Sunday. I attended the Joint Committee on Education on Sunday afternoon. First, the committee heard from West Virginia’s STEAM Technical Assistance Center classroom immersion which seeks to promote STEAM instruction and lessons with design thinking that solves real world challenges in grades 5-10. The STEAM TAC travels to all 55 counties and works with classroom teachers to deliver engaging firsthand learning experiences to spark interest in the STEAM fields. One student described the program as the field trip that comes to you.
Next, the Executive Director of Think Kids, Kelli Caseman, presented IDEA Data Reporting in West Virginia Challenges and Opportunities. Caseman explained IDEA data should be easily accessible so that strategic decisions about resources and action plans could better meet the needs of students.
Additionally, Dr. Erika Klose, WVDE Coordinator, displayed the WVDE publication Guidance, Considerations, & Intentions for the Use of Artificial Intelligence in West Virginia Schools. Klose pointed out that this version was 1.0 because the field of AI is rapidly changing, and the policy will need regular updates. During her talk she compared AI to a personal coach and toolbox to spotlight new ways of learning. Individuals must, however, think critically and act responsibly.
Finally, Raleigh County representatives shared RCS T4 Academy: An Elementary Alternative Education Program. With the rising number of students with serious behavior and mental health difficulties, the program seeks to support students and families at a level that can address the root causes of their difficulties. T4 Academy is successfully meeting students’ needs and helping them transition back to the regular school setting.
I would like to congratulate Dr. Sally Stewart on making our community a better place and for being named Braxton Citizens’ News’ Humanitarian of the Year. Thank you for helping people and our furry friends.
Also, I extend congratulations to Glenville State University’s president, Dr. Mark A. Manchin, for being named WV News/State Journal Educator of the Year! I appreciate his leadership and contributions to education. He is an agent of change and is helping to transform the lives of students, West Virginians, and others that his work in education has impacted.
As we begin 2024, let’s all commit to doing our best and caring for others.
“Although no one can go back and make a brand-new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” (Carl Bard)
I look forward to serving the 63rd District once again in the 2024 Legislative Session. I am optimistic and am dedicated to representing the interests of our district and state. If I may be of assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at lori.dittman@ or 304-701-8600.