CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Education in West Virginia is crucial, but the students in the state are not performing as well as they could be. Soon-to-be state superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano is hoping to change that.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin along with members of the West Virginia Board of Education gathered at the state capitol to welcome Martirano to his new home on Tuesday.

Martirano spoke briefly about his plans for education reform in West Virginia, including improving the graduation rate and making sure that students are college- and career-ready.

“For me, everything I talk about is vertically oriented and we need to back-map that from the graduation rate. Looking at our programs from pre-K interventions, making certain that all young people are reading by grade three, and strengthening up out vertical articulation to ensure that each child has that possibility of graduating. We must focus on that urgently,” Martirano said.

Martirano, who comes from St. Mary’s County, Maryland, also spoke about the importance of the hiring process in education. He said the standard from bringing teachers into the state public education system will continue to be top-of -the-line.

“It’s about recruitment, having alignment with our higher education institutions to make certain that teachers are prepared and that we don’t compromise our standards, that we only accept the very best, highly-qualified and highly-effective teachers in our classrooms,” Martirano said.

Martirano plans to focus on the attendance rate and on education outside of the classroom, saying that it does “take a village to raise a child”.

“To miss a day of instruction is critical, we only have a certain period of time with them. So, the community needs to be supportive of that and also think about wrap around programs such as before and after school programs, summer programs, that enrich that overall opportunity. It’s about partnering, it’s about bringing in all of our groups together. Everybody is going to have a role in this and it starts with our parents as the primary educators,” Martirano said.

State School Board President Gayle Manchin said she is optimistic about the change that Martirano plans to bring to West Virginia education.

“Everywhere he has been has improved and increased and has shown success. So, he doesn’t just talk the talk, he actually does it,” Manchin said.

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  • stophating

    Do we have to pay they 8+ million dollar deficit he's leaving behind in Maryland?

  • MuricaBoy

    We no need any education! JUST COAL!

  • ButWhatHaveTheyLearned?

    Every education article talks about graduation rates especially if they are trying to spin things in a positive light regarding improvements in our schools. But graduation rates are such a red herring. Who cares if we are graduating more kids if after graduating they arent prepared for the work force or additional education? We are statistically graduating more student but it doesn't mean they have basic reading or math skills. It just means they were pushed through the system.

  • RecentlyRetired

    As a recent retiree from 30+ years of teaching in the public school system I know first hand the concerns with the drop-out rate and student achievement. If anyone can figure how to keep a kid in school when they absolutely positively don't want to be there and they have the support to quit from their familes they will have my admiration and support. As far as achievement is concerned many of our students come from dysfunctional homes and communities that share generational attitudes that do not value education. Good luck to all who are trying to turn this situation around it is difficult and will not easy.

    • Tom

      You are so right. I too am a teacher with 30 plus years at the secondary level. It is definitely a cultural battle for us. I contend that many of our students see no immediate reason to succeed in school due to the lack of job opportunities in our area that require an education. In many ways rural students are at a bigger disadvantage than inner city students. Inner city students can pass by big businesses and see the results of what a degree could do for you. Our rural students think that those big businesses only exist for others or on the movies, and are not viable choices for themselves.

  • Mason County Contrarian

    All county superintendents, school staff, support personnel and (especially) the children of West Virginia should be in our prayers as yet another WVDE leader seeks to reinvent the wheel.

  • Herman

    Oh it takes a village does it? It just takes parents who aren't village idiots!

    • WV Proud

      Herman. You hit the nail right on the head. Good parents make a world of difference. Parents are to busy being teenagers themselves. Give me good parents and I will give you well adjusted children who will try hard in school.

  • MountainBuckeye

    I think this is a great hire!!! I just he doesn't get boged down by WV politics.