(08/12/2019)
Dear Parent/Guardians:

Welcome Back! I would like to personally welcome each of you to the new school year. We are very excited about the opportunities that we have for our children at all levels and look forward to expanding our partnerships and building relationships with the community, you and your child. I believe that the school system is the hub of the community and through expanded and strengthened relationships and partnerships, together we can provide limitless possibilities for our children. Preparing our youth to be productive members of society takes a village. It begins at home and continues throughout their lives. I, personally, along with the employees of Calhoun County Schools, takes this charge very seriously and am very excited to share with you some of the many partnerships and initiatives that are already in place.

Calhoun County Schools and the children of Calhoun County are very fortunate to have a partnership with Save the Children (STC). This partnership allows us to add to our continuum of services to prepare students and families for school by helping students and parents gain the necessary skills for their school career and support them through their learning process. In our elementary schools, our partnership provides students with one additional professionally trained teacher and aide at each school to support their reading development. Our STC partnership also provides an Early Steps to Success program to work with expecting mothers and children birth to age three in the County through home visits, providing resources and playdates. There are two Early Steps to Success Coordinators employed: one for each the Arnoldsburg and Pleasant Hill School districts. The Early Steps Coordinator is specially trained to come to your home and work with your child and family. The third STC program that we have for elementary school children is the VROOM program; this program focuses on children ages three to five and their families. VROOM offers children an opportunity to come into the school for playdates, pre-literacy skills, and socialization. Through additional partnerships that STC has secured, our students benefit several times during the school year by providing books, educational materials, guest visits, and other educational activities for our students. STC also provides technical assistance and programming in partnership with the 21st Century Learning in our ASPIRE after-school programs.

The Calhoun Middle/ High School (CMHS) has exciting new opportunities for students this year. We have partnered with Southern Regional Educational Board (SREB) and the West Virginia Department of Education to introduce the Middle School Empowerment Academy. This will allow children in grades five through eight to experience real-life problem-solving skills in a PBL (Project-Based Learning) collaborated classrooms. These real-world experiences will allow children to explore different career opportunities, learn necessary collaboration skills, and problem-solve. The middle school teachers have worked hard this summer attending training on project-based learning implementation. We are very excited about this opportunity and look forward to sharing more information with you as the school year progresses.

The Calhoun High School have partnered with Glenville State College, SREB, West Virginia Department of Education and Calhoun- Gilmer Career Center to provide additional opportunities for our students. Calhoun County High School students in grades 11 and 12 are now able to take dual credit classes. These classes are college classes that also give students high school credits. We have aligned the program to allow students to earn an Associate’s Degree which is a two-year college degree while they are in high school. We are very excited about this opportunity for our students and look forward to having our first Associate Degree diploma handed out at our high school graduation ceremony. We are also excited about expanding the opportunities for students to receive certification from the Calhoun- Gilmer Career Center. Starting this year, students in grades 9 through 12 can attend the Calhoun-Gilmer Career Center. In the past, only students in grades 11 and 12 were scheduled to attend the career center. We recognize the need for students to be able to receive as much training and certification as possible while in high school. Although many students do not want to go to college and are interested in careers that require specialized certifications, this opportunity will allow those students in grades nine through 12 to attend the career center and have an opportunity to earn multiple certifications. By expanding these opportunities, we are meeting the needs of all students.

Calhoun County Schools have also received a Community In Schools grant (CIS). This grant will provide a social worker at all schools. Licensed Social Workers will be directly working with students and families to help meet needs. These opportunities will help meet the needs of the whole-child.

Another opportunity that we will continue, is our partnership with Westbrook Health Services.

We also are in our fourth year of partnership with 21st Century Learning to provide the ASPIRE after-school program. Your child has the opportunity to participate in 110 evenings of after-school fun and learning. Some of the offerings are: Literacy, Math, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), Healthy Choices, Strength and Conditioning, Homework Help, TSA, Dance, Hunter’s Safety, and various other enriching educational opportunities. Please watch for the schedules for courses and additional student and family experiences that will be scheduled throughout the year.

Last, but certainly not least, our most important partnership is with you, the parent/guardian. We want a close relationship with you to help your child be successful in life.

I look forward to seeing your child on August 13, 2019. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at kwhytsel@k12.wv.us or 304-354-7011, extension 314. Please leave a message, if I am not available, as I am often out in the schools with students.

Sincerely,
Kelli Whytsell, Superintendent


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