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Jefferson superintendent outlines vision for county schools

August 13, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Newly hired Jefferson County Schools superintendent R. Steven Nichols emphasized his intention Monday to regularly visit schools to get an idea of how public education is working in the county.

Nichols, who took over as superintendent July 1, said he plans to spend a half day in a different school each week.

Nichols also said he plans to observe a number of functions, from classroom settings to bus loading operations. Nichols plans to chat with students in the cafeteria to get their views on things, and set up a spot in each school where employees can come to him and talk about school issues.

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"I want them to be chats that help us move forward in the system," said Nichols, emphasizing that his visits are not just "window dressing."

Nichols made the comments Monday morning during an open discussion with local media. Every Monday, Nichols, a member of the Jefferson County Board of Education and members of the central office staff, will take turns leading an open discussion with members of the media about issues in the school system.

It is an attempt to be open with the media about school issues, Nichols said.

Nichols, who was a public schools administrator in Fairfax, Va., before coming to Jefferson County, said he wants teachers to be involved in the public education process through their participation in committees. Nichols said just because he is superintendent does not mean he is "all-knowing" and does not need input from others.

As for curriculum, Nichols said he wants to strengthen the school system's science and technology instruction to give students a better chance at entering college and landing jobs in the high-tech field.

Nichols said he is concerned about the county's rate of sending students to college, which is about 53 percent.

Nichols said he worries about attention over impact fees and discussions about a second high school overshadowing issues related to curriculum.

Nichols said it may be a trite expression, but the needs of students must be the top priority in the school system.

"It has to be what you go by," he said.

Next Monday, school board President Lori Stilley will meet with the media.

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