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2019 Legislators' Forum

2019 Legislators’ Forum
November 19-20
Charleston, WV

To advance West Virginia’s public education system with an eye toward meeting future workforce demands, the West Virginia Public Education Collaborative’s fourth annual Legislators’ Forum explored best practices and policies that can:

  • Increase educational attainment.
  • Enhance teacher preparation.
  • Promote local flexibility.
  • Cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset in the classroom.
WVPEC members and university and college presidents pose togehter after a panel on the future landscape of higher education in West Virginia

From left to right: East Tennessee State University President Brian Noland, Pierpont Community & Technical College President Dr. Johnny Moore, WVPEC Executive Chair Gayle Manchin, West Virginia University Provost Maryanne Reed, West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee, Marshall University President Jerome Gilbert, and WVPEC Executive Director Donna Hoylman Peduto pose for a photo after an armchair discussion on the future landscape of higher education on November 19.



legislators, educators & community leaders attended the fourth annual Legislators Forum in November 2019.


legislators were in attendance.


superintendents, counselors, students and teachers were also part of the 2019 Legislators’ Forum, bringing valuable practitioner perspectives to our elected officials.


state, local and national leaders were part of the WVPEC’s 2019 Legislators’ Forum kickoff dinner.

Forum Takeaways

  • We need to make certain college is accessible to all in order to raise the state attainment rate. State leaders should focus not only on recent high school graduates but also on populations such as adult learners and rural students. 

  • There are different routes and alternative certifications that can be used to become a teacher in West Virginia, and we should continue to offer and expand this variety of options to grow the profession. We also need to create a sandbox for teachers to network with one another, experiment with innovation, and share best practices.

  • West Virginia is focused on universal Pre-K for four-year-olds supported by our school funding formula, but we must also address the needs of infants and toddlers to ensure school readiness.

  • Schools need flexibility in hiring to get the right teacher in the classroom and to be able to use funding where it is needed.

  • Education needs to be less about what makes us a good employee, and more about what makes us successful leaders and creators. We must determine scalable and replicable ideas for promoting entrepreneurship that can work in all schools.

  • Robust connectivity and broadband access are essential to promoting both entrepreneurship and innovation. 

  • We must develop a robust system of equitable dual enrollment credits standardized across the state accessible to all students.

Links to agenda and documents





West Virginia University


Marshall University
Marshall University Brad D. Smith Schools of Business
Mylan Pharmaceuticals




Allegheny Science and Technology
Lloyd and Trina Jackson
The Thrasher Group
TMC Technologies

Watch the Event


7:00-7:45 | Breakfast

8:00-8:45 | Profiles and Trends in Higher Education

Introduction: Gayle Manchin, Chair, West Virginia Public Education Collaborative 

Keynote Remarks: Dr. Brian Noland, President, East Tennessee State University 

8:45-9:45 | Empowering Local Educators

Legislators will hear from local and national experts about the benefits of allowing local educators flexibility to design curriculum, accountability, and school funding. The flexibilities already in policy in West Virginia will also be highlighted.

Moderator: F. Scott Rotruck, Member, West Virginia Board of Education 

Resource Experts:

Larry Bailey, Principal, Capital High School 

Ron Duerring, Superintendent, Kanawha County Schools 

Jason Willis, Director of Strategy and Performance, WestEd

10:00-11:00 | Reimagining Teacher Preparation

Legislators and experts will engage in a conversation around what we know about effective teacher preparation (both traditional and alternative pathways) and how teacher preparation programs can incorporate micro-credentialing structures and other innovative practices to help both new and existing teachers utilize student data to personalize learning.

Moderator: Dr. Jaime R. Taylor, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Marshall University 

Resource Experts:

Dr. Teresa Eagle, Dean of the College of Education, Marshall University 

Dr. Stephanie Lorenze, Program Coordinator, Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education Program, West Virginia University

Dr. Jennifer Penland, Director of the School of Education, Shepherd University

Ryan Saunders, Policy Advisory, Learning Policy Institute


11:00-11:30 | Strengthening Birth-to-Five Education in West Virginia

This session will feature a discussion about how legislators can build on the strengths of West Virginia’s early childhood system in order to establish a set of comprehensive birth-to-five programs. Participants will hear from experts who are leading the transition to a birth to five system in the context of the federal Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five program.

Moderator: Barbara Gebhard, Assistant Director of Public Policy, Zero to Three 

Resource Experts:

Janet Bock-Hager, Coordinator off the Office of Early and Elementary Learning, West Virginia Department of Education 

Lisa M. Ertl, Interim Director, Division of Early Care and Education, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources 

11:30-12:00 | Education Technology Presentation by Kanawha County Students

Using technology in education from Pre-K to 12 is a must in today’s high-tech society. During this session, legislators will see how Kanawha County Schools works in the art of creation, the building of robotics, the workforce of Career and Technical Education and the need for coding in their classrooms. Legislators will have a chance to meet the students and teachers who work closely with these tools to show what learning looks like.

12:00-1:00 | Hearing from Educators and Students: A Kanawha County Connection

Legislators will engage in facilitated small group conversations with an educator and a school leader during lunch to reflect on the morning discussions and look ahead to the afternoon sessions.

Introduction: David G. Perry, President, West Virginia Board of Education

Brief Presentation:

Ron Duerring, Superintendent, Kanawha County Schools

Kim Sallada, Coordinator of Co-Op, Kanawha County Schools

Leah Sparks, Director of Technology, Kanawha County Schools

Small Group Discussions:

Larry Bailey, Principal, Capital High School

Bill Dorsey, Teacher, Capital High School 

Lisa Dorsey, Principal, Carver Career Center 

Jacob Fertig, Teacher, Riverside High School 

Amon Gilliam, Principal, Dunbar Middle School

Beth Hoylman, Principal, Alum Creek Elementary

Cheryl Kirk, Teacher, Montrose Elementary

Haley Mooney, Teacher, Sissonville Middle School 

Jessica Phillips, Teacher, Sissonville Middle School

Lisa Syner, Teacher, Ruthlawn Elementary

1:00-2:00 | Infusing Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Schools

This session will discuss innovative ways that middle and high schools are reforming to improve opportunities for students to prepare for postsecondary education and the workforce, especially in rural communities. The discussion will include a special focus on strategies to develop and cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset in students.

Moderator: Dr. Javier Reyes, Dean, John Chambers College of Business and Economics at West Virginia University 

Resource Experts:

Ben Eng, Co-Founding Director, Innovating for Impact Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation, Marshall University

Dr. Trace Pickering, Executive Director, Iowa BIG School (XQ Super School) 

Tara St. Clair, Senior Program Manager, Encova Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, West Virginia University 

2:15-3:15 | Investing in Higher Education Attainment for All West Virginians

This session will highlight a number of strategies that states can use to raise postsecondary attainment rates and prepare graduates for the changing economy. Resource experts will discuss common features of such strategies, including how they can be used to incentivize partnerships between high schools and two-year colleges that result in career pathways for high-demand industries. 

Moderator: Dr. Jim Denova, Vice President, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation 

Resource Experts:

Siri Smillie, Director of Policy, Education Commission of the States 

Dr. Sarah Tucker, Chancellor for Community and Technical College Education, West Virginia Community & Technical College System 

Dr. Russ Wigginton, Chief Postsecondary Impact Officer, State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE)

3:15-3:45 | Reflecting with Legislative Leadership

During this closing panel, leaders from the West Virginia State Legislatures will reflect on the lessons learned from discussions at the Forum. The leaders will also highlight the education omnibus bill, as well as speak about their education policy priorities for the upcoming legislative session.

Moderator: Tom Heywood, Managing Partner, Bowles Rice 


Senator President Mitch Carmichael, Senate President, West Virginia State Legislature 

Delegate Joe Ellington, Chair of the Education Committee, West Virginia State Legislature

Delegate Roger Hanshaw, Speaker of the House, West Virginia State Legislature 

Senator Robert Plymale, Member of the Education Committee, West Virginia State Legislature 

3:45-4:00 | Championing Public Education in West Virginia

Gayle Manchin, Chair, West Virginia Public Education Collaborative 

Donna Peduto, Executive Director, West Virginia Public Education Collaborative 

Patrick Sims, Director of Policy and Research, The Hunt Institute