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School board seeks principal for 'school of the future'

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The new Edgewood Elementary School is in need of a principal again.

Henry Nearman, the current principal at J.E. Robins Elementary, was slated to take the job when the "school of the future" opens in 2014.

The Kanawha County school board rescinded the offer Monday. Instead, Nearman will start next fall at Ruffner, another Charleston elementary school.

"Believe it or not, the opportunity just opened up and it seemed like a good opportunity to me," Nearman said of the Ruffner job. "There's nothing earth-shattering about it, but I think it will be a good fit."  

The job at the new West Side School has been posted since Monday. Carol Hamric, human resources director for the school system, says it will be posted through the end of the week.

The job description is obviously specific to the "blended learning" style administrators will implement at the new school. In addition to an administrator's typical duties, the new principal at Edgewood will develop a novel curriculum with a staff that is unfamiliar with that method of teaching.

"It's a big deal, apparently, opening up a brand new school," school board President Pete Thaw said. "There are a lot of challenges attached to that."

The description calls for a principal who "supports teachers as they implement a blended-learning approach to instruction." That includes embracing "online resources ... to personalize learning for students."

The description also lays out a hypothetical day at the school, with 70 fourth- and fifth-graders who share a large instructional area with several teachers. Each child has a computer and "the day will provide for teacher-led direct instruction, online learning experiences, and opportunities for students to work with small groups."

Edgewood is part of a new pilot project on Charleston's West Side that has been in the works for several months and was approved by the state Legislature during the recent regular session.

The project will implement a slew of reforms at a selection of West Side Schools - Grandview and Mary C. Snow West Side elementaries, Stonewall Jackson Middle School and the new Edgewood School - in hopes of improving performance. All are among the state's lowest performing schools.  

J.E. Robins has failed to meet federally mandated performance benchmarks, based on standardized testing scores, for two years now: the school didn't make adequate yearly progress in 2012 or 2011. Watts failed to make adequate yearly progress four years in a row - the school hasn't met the benchmark since 2008.

Some students are taking the standardized tests on which that distinction partially rests this week. This year's results should be available in August.

Contact writer Shay Maunz at shay.maunz@dailymail.com or 304-348-4886.


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