VWCS ready for DeVos, Weingarten visit
DAVE MOSIER/independent editor
The Van Wert City Board of Education heard a presentation on the Van Wert Middle School Cougar Leaders program and also heard about national exposure coming from today’s tour of the district by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, as well as honors received by Van Wert Elementary School.
VWMS students Jamie Burenga, Grace Doctor, Angelo Tomasi, and Dru Johnson provided a presentation on the Cougar Leaders program, which provides mentoring to incoming sixth-graders at the school. The quartet talked about the various aspects of the Cougar Leaders program, including 4-H leadership project presentations, YWCA volunteer service, and learning leadership skills.
Cougar Leaders are either elected by their peers or selected by school staff and administration.
Also Wednesday, the board also heard VWES Principal Kevin Gehres talk about his school being one of nine elementary schools receiving Education Hall of Fame status this year. The honor is given based on results of an extensive assessment of a school district.
Superintendent Ken Amstutz also talked about the positive exposure coming to the district from today’s visit by DeVos and Weingarten, noting that representatives of the ATF were in to tour the district, while New York Times education reporter Erica Green also spent several hours Wednesday in the district to gather facts for a Times story on Van Wert City Schools.
Amstutz said he and Bill Clifton, assistant to the superintendent, joined with Linda Haycock, the region’s representative on the State Board of Education, spent Wednesday taking people around the district.
The superintendent said he felt there was lots of interest from Green and the ATF reps during their tour, noting that the group wanted to return to the high school for more information, while spending more time than planned in the various school buildings.
“She was very excited when she left,” the superintendent said of Green, a Baltimore native and former education reporter for The Baltimore Sun. “I can’t wait to see what she said; she was very, very pleased; very interested.
“It’s just a lot of great things that have happened with the visit of Secretary DeVos,” Amstutz said, noting earlier that a number of national media are also expected today with the visit of the Education Secretary. He also added he was surprised “at the magnitude” of DeVos’ tour of the district, saying he expected just a brief visit and a few remarks from her.
“I think tomorrow will be a tremendous day to showcase what we’re doing, showcase what education is about, and certainly be able to share what public education is all about,” Amstutz said, and thanked Van Wert Federation of Teachers President Jeff Hood and other local staff members who have been involved in bringing DeVos to Van Wert, and assisting with preparations for the visit.
Also on Wednesday, the board approved several personnel items, including accepting the resignation of high school English teacher Myra Hamrick, who is retiring, effective May 31, after 32 years with Van Wert City Schools.
The board also accepted the resignation of Caitlin Walker, also a high school English teacher, effective the end of her 2016-17 teaching contract. Supplemental contracts were approved by Drew Golden as high school baseball assistant coach and Rob Adams as varsity girls’ basketball coach.
In other action, the board:
- Authorized the Van Wert County Hospital All-Star Football Game on Friday, June 9, in Eggerss Stadium. The game begins at 7 p.m., with a rain date of 7 p.m. Saturday, June 10.
- Approved a satellite program agreement with Vantage Career Center for the upcoming school year.
- Approved a tax abatement agreement between Fox Road investment LLC and the City of Van Wert and Van Wert City Schools.
- Accepted the following donations: $500 from Van Wert Service Club Inc. for the VWHS Robotics Club; $1,500 each from Kevin and Dondra Maney for the John Fox Maney Memorial Business Scholarship and Margaret Shaffer Maney Memorial Music Scholarship; $125 from Strategence Capital LLC for the Van Wert City Schools Endowment Fund for Teachers; $3,284.49 from the Van Wert Elementary School PTO for a zoo field trip, book binding machine, and inflatables for the school, and $9,690 for Chromebook laptop computers at the school; $100 from Royal Publishing Inc. for the VWCS athletic program; $1,500 from BM Partners LLC, doing business as Jerandan, for the Van Wert baseball program; $300 from Convoy Dairy LLC for the Van Wert football program;, $500 from Richard and Michelle Spridgeon and $125 from Robert and Jane Jacob for the Van Wert wrestling program.
The next meeting of the Van Wert City Board of Education will be held at 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 17, in the S.F. Goedde Building conference room.