The Mathews County School Board fittingly tapped one of its own former outstanding students to head up the division’s gifted program.
During Tuesday night’s meeting, the board unanimously appointed Lesley Rae Hunley to serve as gifted coordinator. Hunley, a 2003 graduate of Mathews High School, was valedictorian of her class.
After graduating from MHS, Hunley enrolled at the College of William and Mary, earning a bachelor’s degree in 2006. While a teacher in Poquoson City Public Schools, she received the Meritorious New Teacher Candidate designation from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.
Hunley most recently taught at Gloucester’s Abingdon Elementary School. She was the 2009-2010 recipient of the Edward E. Brickell Leadership Partner Award from the College of William and Mary’s School of Education for her scholarship and dedication. She is currently working on her master’s in educational leadership at William and Mary. Hunley is the daughter of Ray and Marianne Hunley of Mathews.
Amy Hauser, who had been the division’s gifted coordinator, will be taking over the librarian duties at Thomas Hunter Middle School and Mathews High School. Hauser holds a master’s degree in library science. Thomas Hunter’s librarian Ginger Shuber retired at the end of the school year; MHS librarian Neena Wright is moving out of the area, and her resignation was approved by the board on Tuesday night.
"Thank you for giving me the opportunity," Hunley told the board members. "I’m just so excited to be aboard."
In other news, the school board approved a resolution imploring the state Department of Education to reduce unfunded mandates in the area of student testing. The resolution is identical to one passed last month by the Mathews County Board of Supervisors.
"It’s good to look at the data," Superintendent of Schools David J. Holleran said of the benchmark tests that students take in order to be prepared for the state’s Standards of Learning tests, but to get ready for one test "there are 50 pre-tests." Often, he said, teachers are forced to devote their energies to "teach to the test."
Mathews supervisor Janine Burns and Judy Rowe presented the resolution to the school board, with Burns saying that "this has the opportunity to be a first step" with other localities possibly adding their names to it and "march(ing) on to Richmond."
"It sends a very powerful message" to have both the school board and supervisors adopting the same resolution, school board vice chairman Jen Little said.
At the start of Tuesday’s meeting, board members walked down the hall from the MHS media center to the auditorium to attend the school’s summer graduation program. Three students—John Robert Thomas Hudgins, Jazzmin Richards Murphy and Allison Jeanette West—received their diplomas during the ceremony.
The school board also unanimously approved, although somewhat reluctantly, health insurance premium rates for its employees for 2010-2011. According to Holleran, the rates originally proposed by Anthem averaged a 25-30 percent increase. Through negotiations, that was reduced to 11 to 17 percent, he said.
School board members were upset that, because of this hike in premiums, employees will be receiving a de facto pay cut. Under two of the Anthem insurance plans, an employee with a spouse and children will face as much as a $200 a month increase from the current rate.
It was announced during Tuesday’s meeting that the school division’s volunteer application form is now been posted at www.mathews.k12.va.us. The online version of the form can be filled out by clicking on the "Interested in Volunteering in Our Schools?" link on the banner of the main page; the form can also be printed out by looking under "Employment Opportunities" in the quick links section.
Tuesday night was the last meeting for Dr. Michael Richards, who is stepping down from the board for health reasons. His fellow board members presented him a plaque for his service. "This is a very good board," Richards said, "and leaving you is not easy."
The Mathews County School Board will hold a hearing at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 14, in the MHS media center to consider a replacement for Richards. At that meeting, Holleran will read the names of all the applicants for the unexpired term, and each person will get an opportunity to address the board.
The school board is expected to make a selection at its Sept. 21 meeting.