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Morgan Co. Schools chief sets priorities

July 01, 1998|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - As far as new Morgan County Schools Superintendent Steven L. Paine is concerned, student achievement has to be the top priority in any school system.

But character development runs a close second, said Paine, 43, who started in the position Wednesday.

Simple things, like teaching kids manners and how to treat others with dignity and respect, need to be emphasized in the educational process, said Paine, who said he intends to produce the positive results the public expects from its school system.

From what he hears, Morgan County already has a good school system, though some things can be done better, he said.

"I think, really, one of the challenges we face is believing we have a lot of good things here and building on our successes," Paine said.

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Paine replaces former Superintendent Charles W. Montgomery, who left the school system Monday just shy of three years on the job. The Morgan County Board of Education voted not to renew Montgomery's contract earlier this year.

This is Paine's first try school system superintendency, but the Cleveland native has a firm grounding in school administration in West Virginia. Most recently, he was director of curriculum for kindergarten through 12th grade for Upshur County Schools in Buckhannon, W.Va.

He was principal of Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School when it was recognized as both a Blue Ribbon School and a Safe, Disciplined, Drug-free School by the U.S. Department of Education, he said.

The school had nearly 1,200 students in sixth through eighth grades, Paine said.

The Morgan County school system is a little more than half the size of Upshur County's school system, he said.

"Actually, a very good size for me to break into the superintendency," said Paine, who is finishing up work for a doctorate in educational leadership at West Virginia University.

Since receiving his bachelor's degree from Fairmont State College in Fairmont, W.Va., Paine said he has devoted his career to public school education in the state, working as a teacher and coach in Harrison County before going to Upshur County.

"So I'm a West Virginia boy now," he said.

As far as leadership style, Paine said he sees himself as a balance between a people person and a task-oriented person.

It's important that everyone learns how to work together for the good of the children and to keep communication lines open, he said.

Paine said he would like to create a school environment in which learning is fun.

He signed a three-year contract for an annual salary of $65,000.

He is married to Jackie Paine. The couple has four children, three of whom will attend Morgan County public schools.

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