WELLSBURG - Each year Brooke County residents have an opportunity to express appreciation for the local school personnel, from teachers and principals to secretaries and school bus drivers, who made a difference in their lives.
That opportunity is the Brooke County Schools Wall of Fame. At Monday's meeting of the Brooke County Board of Education, six joined the many who have been inducted since the wall was established by the board in 2002.
Nominated by community members, family and colleagues: the six were: the late Keith Donley, who served on the school board for 24 years; Timothy Easton, the school district's director of child nutrition from 1976 to 2002; Betty Lou Harris, a teacher at Franklin Primary School for 40 years; Bonnie Lauffer, a secretary to former Superintendent Bill Harvey and at three schools; Ruth Missonak, who worked as a teacher's aide and secretary in her 39-year career; and the late Margaret "Maggie" Watson, a math teacher at the former Follansbee and Wellsburg high schools from 1927 to 1964.
EFFORTS?REMEMBERED — The efforts of six former Brooke County Schools employees were remembered by those who nominated them to the Brooke County Schools Wall of Fame and many others attending the Brooke County school board’s meeting Monday. This year’s inductees are, from left: Ruth Missonak, Betty Lou Harris, Park McMullen, who accepted on behalf of the late Margaret Watson, his aunt; Timothy Easton, Bonnie Lauffer and Judy Donley, who accepted on behalf of her late husband, Keith.
Board President Jim Piccirillo told the many who filled the board's meeting room to support the inductees, "This is one of the most important nights in the school calendar for us, and we're pleased to have such a nice turnout."
Mark Ross, a member of the Wall of Fame committee, introduced each of the five and acknowledged those who nominated them.
Brooke County schoolteacher Mary Cay Lyle said Donley made an impression on her as early as her high school senior year, when he chaperoned her and others on visits to local businesses and industries to learn about the work world.
She noted that in addition to serving on the school board, of which he was president a number of times, Donley served on the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission and served as field representative for the state Treasurer's Office.
Lyle said Donley often said teachers and students are society's greatest assets.
She read part of an article in which Donley wrote he learned dedication and perseverance from a teacher who didn't have him in class: his mother, Flora Donley McCann.
Donna Capobianco said she and others who worked under Easton found him to be excellent in his job and "a wonderful employer - always fair, kind and compassionate."
Easton never wavered from his goal of providing healthy meals to all students, she said of Easton, who later became active as a member and leader of the Brooke County Association of Retired School Employees.
Brooke County schoolteacher Marcia Schwertfeger said Harris "worked as hard for her students as they did for her" and was a trusted confidante to many of her colleagues.
She added Harris has continued to serve Franklin Primary School as a volunteer tutor and has been active in the local Association of Retired School Employees and Delta Kappa Gamma educators sorority.
Harvey said when he served as superintendent, Lauffer greeted all of his visitors and callers with a smile and cheerful attitude while performing many tasks that made his job easier.
He noted Lauffer had worked as a secretary at Wellsburg Primary School, Follansbee Middle School and the school district's Alternative Learning Center before coming to the school board office.
Ross said he has gotten to know Missonak well through their involvement in the Brooke County Schools Service Personnel Association and has learned "Ruth has love in her heart for the children and adults of Brooke County schools."
He noted Missonak worked for 11 years as a teacher's aide at Hooverson Heights Primary School, 16 years as a school secretary for 16 and 8 years as an executive secretary at the school board office, where she aided a number of assistant superintendents. She also coordinated the Brooke County Schools spelling bee for a number of years.
Former Brooke County math teacher Bob Griffith said Watson "was, without a doubt, the best math teacher I had."
He said Watson also was Wellsburg High School's yearbook adviser for 20 years and adviser of its Tri-Hi-Y Club and its dean of girls, each for 15 years. Arthritis led her to leave teaching for a warmer Arizona climate for a year, but she returned to the classroom for eight years before retiring.
Fellow teacher Carol Churchman, a former student of Watson's, recalled how her hand trembled as she wrote on the blackboard and that it was because of her that she loved algebra.
Piccirillo said he's not had the pleasure of knowing all of the inductees, but whenever he mentioned their names to anyone before the meeting, he heard the words "gentleman," "lady" and "professional."
He said all educators should strive for such descriptions.
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)