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Honoring Manny Arvon

August 29, 2003

There's a reason Berkeley County, W.Va., Schools Superintendent Manny Arvon was named a Distinguished West Virginian this week. He does a difficult job well, in a way that creates friends and allies for the school system.

Arvon's award, announced Wednesday, follows his mid-July designation as the state's best school superintendent. When he grew up, education was not only valued in his home, it was the family business.

In Boone County, his mother taught high school for 28 years, while his father spent 37 years in the system, the last six as superintendent.

Arvon's own service in Berkeley County began in 1974 as a teacher at Rosemont Elementary in Martinsburg. He later served as principal there and at Gerrardstown Elementary and Martinsburg South Middle School.

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In 1994, he became assistant superintendent of instruction, and in 1997 was elevated to the school system's top post, following the retirement of James Bennett.

At the time, the Berkeley County Board of Education picked Arvon in part because he had been instrumental in developing a series of benchmarks for the school and because the board liked his emphasis on raising test scores and reducing the drop-out rate.

How tough is the superintendent's job? Consider that Arvon presides over one of the fastest growing systems in the state at a time when the schools must convince pupils that the old option - learning a trade on the factory floor - is no longer viable.

Add to that the changes that hit the school system after the Columbine school shootings and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In both cases, Arvon has been able to reassure parents that the schools are doing everything possible to keep their children safe.

He also was instrumental in convincing voters to approve a $27.8 million bond issue in September of 2001. And according to Bill Queen, the school board president, he regularly lobbies lawmakers in the state capital on educational issues.

We congratulate Arvon on his lifelong dedication to education, which has brought him a reward he richly deserves.

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