Curriculum and Instruction
Located in the Potomac Highlands Region of the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, Mineral County includes 328 square miles. Bordered on the North by the Potomac River and Allegany County Maryland, Keyser, the county seat of local government, is 150 miles from Baltimore, 120 miles from Pittsburg, 140 miles from Washington, but 254 miles from Charleston, the West Virginia state capital.
Mineral County is predominantly rural, with some mountainous terrain, and it enjoys a relatively mild climate. While there are some small farms, commercial and light industry, employment is mainly in the service areas. Quality of life influences those who find employment in the Cumberland, Maryland area and as far as Winchester, Virginia to return to their homes in Mineral County. The county board of education, itself, is a major employer in Mineral County.
The Mineral County School system operates within its 330 square miles through fourteen schools to serve its communities and 4,697 students (2006). It is governed by a five-member elected board. The school system is organized into three programmatic levels: primary school (pre-k through 4), middle (5 through 8), and secondary (9 through 12). A vocational center offers secondary and post-secondary programs and maintains integrated programs with area colleges. There are five primary schools, two primary/ middle schools, one middle school, two high schools, a vocational center, a preschool center, and an alternative center within the county. Mineral County is an original WV School To Work (STW) site. High Schools participate in the SREB High Schools that Work (HSTW) program. Middle Schools Participate in Middle Schools That Work (MSTW). Education is closely tied to parents, the community, post secondary institutions and area employers and businesses.
The Early Childhood Foundation for Learning
Children at the early childhood level are active physically and mentally. They are curious. They are discovering themselves. They are learning to use language to express themselves. They pass through sequential stages of development. Yet, there are great differences among children at this age level that must be taken into consideration. The learning experiences must begin at the active, concrete, and manipulative levels. Learning activities must be within the child’s readiness level, competency level, and within his/her range of interest. Early childhood education not only develops the necessary skills for learning later on, but also the attitude toward learning, and most importantly, the child’s self-concept. Since the school cannot alone be responsible for the development of the child’s self-concept, a strong communication link must be set up between the school and the home.
Reading, Writing and Mathematics
Curriculum for elementary students includes science, social studies, health, physical education, music and art , but there is focus on reading, writing and mathematics. All courses are taught using the West Virginia Content Standards and Objective available online at http://wvde.k12.wv.us/csos . Mineral County teachers use a balanced approach to reading instruction that combines the strength of a rich literature program and explicit phonics. A state designed Informal Reading Assessment and an Informal Math Assessment tool are used to assess individual progress and guide instruction for those curricula in grades K-3. In addition to mastery of basic skills needed for communication – reading, writing, speaking, and listening – and of basic skills needed for the use of numbers, there is development of each child’s competencies in perceptual skills, physical coordination, body mastery and healthful living. Teachers promote curiosity, critical thinking and problem-solving, and they provide frequent opportunities to succeed.
Title I Programs Focus on Student’s Early Reading
Title I provides additional help and instruction to students who are not performing at the level of their peers. Funding for this reading program is provided by the Federal Government. Mineral County provides remedial reading teachers for all of its K-2 schools, and it provides teachers and support for every school community. Summer and after school programs are an integral part of the plan. The goal of Title I is to provide quality instruction by highly qualified staff to the students in order to raise their performance to its highest potential.
Middle Childhood Education
Students in grades 5-8, between the ages of 10 and 14, have special educational and psychological needs which clearly identify them as a unique group characterized by stages and changing rates of social, emotional, and intellectual development, and physical growth. They must develop the ability to think abstractly, acquire decision-making skills, and participate in exploratory experiences which broaden an awareness of the world. Teachers provide an appropriate mixture of structure and openness, and the curriculum is designed to personalize learning for each student.
There is concentration of time and effort on basic skills in reading and mathematics and a major emphasis on problem-solving skills and on development of independent study skills. Block scheduling is used in schools of appropriate size, in which teams of students are assigned to a space with a team of teachers who then are responsible for scheduling within the block. Students are assigned a communication arts interdisciplinary block for an extended period of time, in which the academic areas of social studies, English/language arts, reading and library media, as well as independent study skills are taught.
Each child has a strong physical education which deletes the stress of interscholastic sports and provides opportunity for a varied intramural program. There is also an exploratory program which provides students with an opportunity to explore wide areas of interest in non-competitive and non-graded activities. Students are assigned to a teacher-advisor who provides academic counseling and home-school communication. A related arts program provides an opportunity to participate in and explore the areas of art, music, computer technology, and industrial arts.
High School Provides Preparation for Post School Education or Work
The high school curriculum provides a required program of essential studies, giving students a strong background in reading, writing and speaking skills, mathematical abilities, knowledge of scientific facts and methods, knowledge and understanding of social studies, physical education, and an appreciation of the arts. Students are guided toward making wise choices from among a broad variety of elective offerings by Mineral County’s Programs of Study in order to serve individual needs, special interests and career choices. Most students need to plan for additional learning beyond high school in order to reach career goals. Technical school options are available for those who chose to enter the work world immediately after graduation.
The high schools schedule students on a block schedule of four 90 minute class periods each day. Students take four courses each semester, earning 8 credits per year, with a possible total at graduation of 32 credits. Honors classes are available in core curriculum areas of Math, English, Science and Social Studies. Advanced Placement (AP) courses are offered in Chemistry, English, American Government, Physics, Biology, American History, Art and Computer Science. College courses through Potomac State College of WVU are offered in English I &II, Speech, Calculus I, II, & III, Sociology and Psychology. An EDGE program provides students opportunity to test after specific high school classes to earn early credit with WV community colleges and technical schools while still in high school. Elective courses in high school can culminate in certificate programs much in demand in the workplace.
Programs of Study are curriculum and course guides from which students choose in order to build the necessary academic and vocational skills and knowledge to be successful in a career of their choice. A K-12 career program begins with awareness in kindergarten. It continues with exploration during middle school and initial decision making at the end of grade eight. Entering ninth graders choose classes from among the broad programs of study with consideration of their initial career direction. Tenth graders enroll in a required course that enables them to explore the majors available in the broad area of their choice. Students then further focus their study on a specific major. During the eleventh and twelfth grade years students usually enroll in four required major courses and also select three major electives from a list recommended for their major.
Majors are defined in each career cluster, and three levels of preparation (pathways) have been considered:
Entry Level Careers - High School Graduation/Technical Certificates
Skill Level Careers - Associate Degrees/Technical Preparation
Professional Level Courses - Four Year College Degrees
Each pathway requires specific course credit completion.
Arts Link with Curriculum
The elective program is balanced with offerings in academic areas, vocational areas, the arts, physical well-being, and personal development areas so that students may obtain a high quality education. The appreciations, skills and concepts taught in the visual, musical, dance, and dramatic arts can be the basis for future learning and communication. The Arts, as taught in Mineral County Schools, can be a vocational pursuit or a recreational or leisure activity that can serve interested students throughout their lifetime. Through the arts student learn to see, hear, participate, produce, appreciate and judge the designs, patterns, sounds, movement and images of our society and past civilizations. The arts provide a link which helps students to draw comparisons, establish values, and effectively communicate and express ideas.
Technology is a Teaching Tool
The need to development technological skills for life in today’s society is well understood. It is also true that technology serves as a strong component of instructional support woven into each curriculum in all grades. All WV Content Standards require teachers to teach and learn in a 21st Century Context that includes a variety of technology applications (whiteboards, graphing calculators, electronic probes, computers, etc) the instructional process. Kindergarten students have the earliest opportunity with networked software. All class rooms are wired for internet access. Approximately 1600 computers provide 3:1 student to computer access.
Library Media Learning Resources
All schools in Mineral County have school libraries, whether in a central instructional Media Center or contained within individual classroom. School library materials support and enrich all areas of the curriculum and to meet the needs, abilities, interests, and maturity levels of students. It is here that students and teachers can find a variety of resources including books, periodicals and newspapers, videotapes, CD’s, videodisks, computers and other multimedia materials.
The internet can be accessed when needed for study and research. Certified librarians, technology coordinators and teachers work to coordinate information skills and technology use with the total curriculum.
Schools share some materials through a Central Instructional Media Center. The center has a varied assortment of catalogued media consisting of video tapes, films, filmstrips, records, transparencies, story prints, kits, and other materials. The county has regularly scheduled deliveries and pick-up service to each school. Video tape equipment and other audio-visual machines are available for short-term-loan from this center. Audio-visual equipment repair is coordinated out of the IMC. All audio-visual equipment is catalogued and inventoried at the IMC.
Student Services personnel provide continuing assistance to students in Mineral County. School counselors serve each school to establish and implement comprehensive developmental guidance and counseling programs designed to impart specific skills and learning opportunities in a proactive, preventive manner, ensuring that every student can achieve school success through academic, career, and personal/social development experiences. The school guidance and counseling program is comprehensive in scope, developmental in nature based on the national standards for school counseling programs, and is delivered by counselors, both individually and in collaboration with other professionals and through programs and activities, to every Mineral County student in grades Pre-K - 12.
School nurses serve to provide screening and health services to students, refer students to medical and other health professionals, maintain health records and monitor use of necessary prescription drugs during the school day.
A staff of school psychologists, in addition to assessing individual student needs, work with teachers and school committees to plan strategies to assist students having various difficulties with school. Other professionals providing assistance include speech professionals, special education teachers and contracted therapists.
The vision of the school system is to inspire students to become high achieving,
creative, lifelong learners and productive, caring, responsible, American citizens.
Mineral County Board of Education
1 Baker Place
Keyser, WV 26726