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Preparation, Education Pave Way for Students

By Staff | Oct 28, 2015

MIDDLEBOURNE – A school’s response to a dangerous gunman and sex education took centerstage Oct. 19 at the Tyler County Board of Education meeting.

Sergeant Shannon Huffman and Mitch Corley, prevention resource officer for the schools, both of the Tyler County Sheriff’s Department, made a presentation regarding an active shooter response. The deputies took a class that taught them the essentials of ALICE , which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. They shared this knowledge with teachers and staff, but seek to teach more as the school year progresses.

“Something may happen or it may never happen, but we can’t live in denial,” Huffman said.

The deputies asked the board to consider allowing them to teach students at various grade levels about how to plan and react if an active shooter invaded a school. Huffman among others at the board meeting recalled how an armed 14-year-old held numerous students and a teacher hostage in August at Phillip Barbour High School outside Philipi.

Huffman used a common sense analogy to illustrate his point about why it is important to prepare students.

“It’s no longer ‘if’ but when,” Huffman said. “When it happens here, are we prepared for it? We teach kids about fire alarms, but we do not teach kids about how to respond to an active threat.”

Huffman said if the board grants its approval for ALICE training, students would be taught age appropriate lessons and not handle firearms. He said as with teachers and staff, students need to learn the essentials about “how to survive”.

For example, Huffman said, two students running down the hall from a gunman should not be allowed into a classroom with students inside that has been barricaded shut. The reason why is that opening the door would allow the gunman more access to potential victims. Other lessons include using anything and everything – perhaps a chair or flagpole – to distract or fight back against an attacker, Huffman said.

Though the board has not made any decision regarding whether students should be taught ALICE, board members seemed receptive to the program.

“I hope that we never have anything like that happen. I pray we never have anything like that happen, but it is really better to prepared,” said Board member P.J. Wells.

In other matters, Darlene Koerber and Chad Snider, both teachers at Tyler Consolidated Middle School, gave the board an update regarding sex education classes that utilized standards dictated by the state’s Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Initiative. They hoped to dispel any rumors about how the abstinence based program was taught.

Koerber said Tyler County was ranked first in the state for teen pregnancies in 2014, so education is the key to prevention.

“If you get a child to think early enough about plans for their life regarding family planning, then they have a better ability to say no and to wait until they are ready to have a family,” she said. “These age appropriate classes teach social media safety and about discarding myths that students believe.”

In the past, students were sent home with a opt-out permission slip – which means if they didn’t return the letter, they were allowed to participate in the program.

Superintendent Robin Daquilante said in the future, a permission slip would be sent home that, if not returned, then students would not be able to participate in programs with outside presenters. She said though the district is not required by state law to do things this way, this new approach will be a better way to inform parents.

Among other business, the board approved the resignations of:

N Wayne Smith, longtime Tyler Consolidated High School Band Director, whose resignation is effective at the end of the 2015-16 school year.

“He is one of the most recognized and appreciated band directors in West Virginia. He will be sorely missed,” said Board member Jimmy Wyatt.

– Arthur Kester, a longtime custodian, who board members spoke of highly.

– Jana Thomas, as drama advisor at Tyler Consolidated High School, effective immediately.

– Christy Jones, as assistant girls’ basketball coach at Tyler Consolidated Middle School, effective immediately.

Employment:

– Employ Tammie Jo Hayes as a cook, effective Oct. 20

– Employ Sherry Perkey, mentor teacher for a speech/language pathologist at A. I. Boreman Elementary, effective immediately.

– Employ Robin Templeton, mentor teacher for a first grade teacher at A.I. Boreman Elementary, effective immediately.

– Employ Jacki Long, mentor teacher for a special education teacher at Sistersville Elementary School, effective immediately.

– Employ Adam Weekley, technical education teacher, at Tyler Consolidated High School, effective immediately with employment to begin Nov. 4.