Annual West Virginia Education Summit kicks off Wednesday in Charleston

CHARLESTON W.Va. — Education will be at the forefront Wednesday in Charleston.

The 6th Annual West Virginia Education Summit is at the Embassy Suites in the Capital City. The summit starts with an educator panel and will have strategy sessions, awards, keynote speaker, a student expo and conversations with West Virginia state leaders.

“When you think about the focus being on what children need and the obligation we have as educators to help transform their lives in order to give them a better opportunity and also to create the future that we desire in our society,” Thomas Rooney,┬áSuperintendent of Lindsay Unified School District in California and Keynote Speaker at the event, said on MetroNews “Talkline.”

“We look at some of the challenges that we face in our local communities, throughout the state and throughout our nation. The majority of those challenges are the result of a failed public education system. So those of us who are in education have a responsibility and obligation to create a change that is essentially learner-centered, that will create an opportunity for every learner to reach their full academic and personal potential.”

The summit kicks off at 9.a.m.with opening remarks and an educator panel. The panel will include Sarita Beckett, a math teacher at Independence Middle School in Raleigh County, Greg Merritt, an academic coach at Wood County Schools, Jada Reeves, the 2019 WV Teacher of the Year at Bradley Elementary in Raleigh County, Adam Wolfe, a math and physics teacher at Herbert Hoover High School in Kanawha County, and the moderator of the panel will be Dr. Karen Larry, the Acting Special Assistant to the State Superintendent of Schools.

According to a release, the panel of West Virginia educators will explore the shifting needs and responsibilities of the education system and how partners can assist and support educators to ensure positive opportunities for all learners.

Followed by the panel is an award ceremony for exemplary partnership for student-centered support and the keynote speaker, Rooney.

Rooney’s school district is the nation’s leader in Learner-Centered Schools, a performance-based system, breaking away from the traditional school system, according to the release.

“The very basic way of understanding a performance-based education system is we believe that people learn in different ways and different time frames,” Rooney said. “That is true for five-year-olds, 17-year olds, and adults. We learn in different ways and different time frames. The traditional education model doesn’t honor that basic principle. It places learners in certain grade levels based on age, not because of their competence. It allows them to move forward because the school year ends, not because they know the content. The core foundation of a performance-based education system is we look at every learner, we determine where they are academically and personally and we place them in the content and the level they will be successful at and challenged at.”

After Rooney finishes up as keynote speaker at the summit, the media will have an opportunity to talk with summit sponsors and speakers such as Rooney, Dr. Amelia Courts, the President/CEO of The Education Alliance and Jeri Matheney, the Director of Communications at Appalachian Power.

During that time will be lunch, where participants will have the opportunity to network and view state examples of student-centered learning at a student expo showcase. After lunch will be a discussion among West Virginia leaders. The moderator of the conversations will be Kallie Cart of WCHS-TV featuring participants Paul Espinosa, the Chairman of the Education Committee at the West Virginia House of Delegates, Kenny Mann, the Chairman of the Education Committee at the West Virginia Senate, and Dr. Steven Paine, the State Superintendent of Schools.

The summit ends with strategy sessions led by leaders and educators at the Lindsay Unified School District. They will discuss the strategy and story of how Lindsay rose to great success with student-centered learning.

“We first enrolled the leaders in order to help them see and recognize there is a better way of doing this,” Rooney said. “What if we could meet every learner at their level and guarantee their success? Then it went out to the community. We had a series of community meetings and we asked the community five essential questions: Why do we exist as an organization? What are the values that we will embrace? What are the principles that will guide our decision? What is our vision for the future? What is the description of our graduate?”

“Everybody became committed to the ‘Lindsay Learner’ and everybody committed to recognizing that they have a role in the life of children in this community.”

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