Police help Brooke school board

WELLSBURG – The Brooke County Board of Education on Monday recognized local police for lending a hand to pupils with autism at Follansbee Middle School, and a local principal for receiving a state honor.

Superintendent Kathy Kidder-Wilkerson and Melissa Figlioli, Brooke County director of special education, thanked the Brooke County Fraternal Order of Police and FOP Associates for a donation that provided a listening system for the pupils.

Figlioli explained the device, which involves headphones, trains the children to process sound more efficiently and improves their attention span.

Brooke County Sheriff’s Deputies Rich Arthurs, Larry Palmer and John White represented the FOP at the meeting. Brooke County Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Hanna, the group’s president, said $1,000 donated to the school was raised through contributions from the community.

The board also recognized Stephanie Blundon, Brooke High School assistant principal, for being named the Principal’s Leadership Academy’s 2013 Distinguished Scholar.

She also will be recognized for the honor at a banquet in Charleston.

Valerie Smith, Brooke County director of student services, said all newly hired school administrators are required to attend the academy and Blundon was chosen for her outstanding performance there.

Smith said participants were charged with planning an action research project, and Blundon has taken on reviving the Bruin Leadership team at Brooke High School.

Through the program, junior class members are chosen to serve as mentors to incoming freshmen, helping them to adjust to high school and being available for assistance and feedback through the year.

Blundon said she hopes to expand the program to include peer mediation, through which trained students help to resolve conflicts between classmates, and peer tutoring.

Before coming to Brooke High in 2012, Blundon worked in Ohio school districts. She was principal of Pleasant Hill Elementary School, intervention specialist for Stanton Middle School and Edison High School and dean of students for Edison High.

The board also recognized Palmer and White for being named West Virginia Prevention Resource Officer of the Year and PRO Regional Liaison of the Year, respectively.

As PROs at Wellsburg Middle School and Brooke High, respectively, Palmer and White are charged with promoting good relations between students, staff and the sheriff’s department and are trained to handle violent incidents, should they arise.

Brooke County Sheriff Chuck Jackson also was on hand to thank the school board for providing $50,000 to help keep Palmer and White at their schools and a third PRO, Sheriff’s Deputy Darin Pizer, at Follansbee Middle School.

The board and sheriff’s department allocated additional funds for the officers after grants awarded for them fell short of previous years.

Jackson said, “After a brief moment of panic, there was never any doubt that (local) funding for the officers would come through.”

The sheriff said soon after receiving news of the grant shortfall, Kidder met with him at her office and he received verbal commitments from school board members.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com)