The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


May 4, 2014

Positive change

Everyone has a role to play to make schools better

Last week the annual Raleigh County Schools Superintendent’s Senior Scholars luncheon provided us with a new standard of academic excellence: 49 high school seniors will graduate summa cum laude this month.

That number 49, by the way, sets a new record for the county.

“Anything that I wanted, I had to work for it,” Jessica Heimer of Shady Spring, one of the 49, told The Register-Herald. “Nothing was handed to me.”

These local scholars put in the work, and they have the bright futures to show for it.

But that is just part of a larger picture when it comes to Raleigh County’s schools. It shows that dedicated students can take advantage of opportunities provided by a school system with good teachers, competent administrators and staff, and parents who care enough to motivate their kids.

 Raleigh County is one of the largest school districts among the 55 county systems in the state, with a student population of around 12,000.

It is also one of the most progressive school districts in the state. Say what you will about the birthing issues of the iRaleigh initiative and the rollout of iPads, but our reporting showed Raleigh County schools measured up fairly well with a similar iPad project at the Los Angeles Unified School District.

That district is one of the largest in the nation.

Raleigh County residents should be proud — and a little excited — to see evidence of such academic excellence demonstrated by these 49 seniors.

Are there problem areas? Like all public school districts, the answer is yes.

Enter David Price.

The new superintendent, who officially begins his job on July 1, has a strong foundation on which to build in Raleigh County.

We hope, and expect, that he will continue to innovate like his predecessor, Superintendent Jim Brown, when it comes to merging academics and technology.

The communications revolution of the past two decades has been in many cases a disruptive force for many institutions.

But these dynamic changes also offer great opportunities to adapt, to think, to react in new and unexpected ways, and to make disruptive technology a force for good things in the future.

Schools need innovation, and they need to take the best of what technology offers, and harness it to engage and challenge young people.

Because good schools make good neighborhoods.

And good neighborhoods make good communities.

We all have a role to play in bringing positive change to public schools, whether we’re parents, grandparents, business owners or just concerned county residents. And to make schools work, to make them better, it’s going to take commitment from everyone in Raleigh County.

As Jessica Heimer might put it, nothing’s going to be handed to us.

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