Berkeley Co. school board candidates want to improve system

  • David L. Woods

Editor's note: As part of our continuing coverage of the May 11 primary election in West Virginia, we are profiling five of the 10 candidates running for a seat on the Berkeley County Board of Education. The first five candidates were profiled in Sunday's Herald-Mail. They are Ron "Coach" Gray, Thomas "Eric" Gates, Robert E. "Bucky" Strauch, Todd M. Beckwith and Richard A. "Rick" Pill. If you've missed any of our candidate profiles so far, go to our website at and click on Tristate elections.

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Ten people are vying for four seats on the Berkeley County Board of Education in Tuesday's election.

No more than two board members can be elected from any of the county's six magisterial districts. The race is nonpartisan. The primary is the election for school board candidates in West Virginia.

Judith "Pam" Brush

Judith P. "Pam" Brush, 57, of Martinsburg, said that after working for more than 30 years in West Virginia schools, she feels she has a lot of experience and leadership skills to offer if elected to the board.


"I would like to use (them) here at home in Berkeley County," said Brush, a speech pathologist.

In addition to goals of recruiting and retaining qualified personnel, Brush said she's also concerned about providing staff with "meaningful" continuing education opportunities.

"I (hear) over and over again that the younger staff needs information that they can use, and the older (staff) would like to have more technology instruction."

Darin L. Gilpin

Darin L. Gilpin, 41, of Martinsburg, who has two children in the school system, said he would like to continue to be active in the community and help the school system succeed.

"Things are headed in a good direction at this point," Gilpin said of the current administration. "I think we do well with what we have at this point and would like to just see that continue. I think I would be able to add some common sense and things like that to the board," said Gilpin, a veterinarian and part owner of Shenandoah Veterinary Hospital.

"As the area grows and companies come to look at Martinsburg, W.Va., the first thing they look at is the school system," Gilpin said.

Andrew D. Michael

Andrew D. Michael, 59, of Hedgesville, said his experience of serving on Shepherd University's governing board for nine years would be a benefit to the county school district.

"I think actually that Berkeley County Schools is one of the best in the state and I really want to help keep it there," said Michael, who is the general manager of The Woods Resort.

"I think the school board has done a great job, and I would like to continue the policies that they instituted and what helped make it that way," he said.

A product of local schools through Shepherd University, Michael said he obtained a "great education" and really wants to give back to the community.

Arthur "Art" Thomm II

Arthur W. "Art" Thomm II, 33, of Martinsburg, said if elected, he would bring his experience of serving as chairman of the Local School Improvement Council, and being a member of the PTA and other organizations within the school system to the board.

"Last June, when I filed my precandidacy (form), it was time to step up and get on the actual elected board," Thomm said. "I just want to bring my experiences and expertise, and make Berkeley County Schools the best place to learn and our teachers to work.

"I'm not coming to the school board with any agenda," said Thomm, a sales executive with Guardian Building Products. "I'm coming with a complete open mind and I want to be able to help out in any way that I can."

Thomm said he has talked with the state leaders in Charleston about the school district's unique circumstances and has regularly attended school board meetings for nearly two years.

"I want everybody to know that I'm running for my family and theirs," Thomm said.

David L. Woods

David L. Woods, 77, a retired professor, said he feels he can regularly visit the schools to be the "eyes and ears" for the community.

Woods, who said he was born into a family of educators, said his candidacy offers a unique outside perspective on what is needed in the school system because he is not from the area.

"If I had children in the school, I wouldn't be running," said Woods, who resides near Hedgesville. "Having daddy on the school board, that's pretty tough."

Woods described himself as an "idea man" and a self-starter who tries to come up with better ways of doing things, "and they're usually less expensive."

While education nationally is in crisis, Woods said Berkeley County Schools seem to be functioning well.

"I think we need to look at the whole spectrum of education," Woods said of a need to unite curricular and extra-curricular resources to heighten interest and motivation in students.

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