"That's what it's all about," he said.
He also praised the state board members, former state superintendent of schools Steve Paine and Marple for their work on "Global 21," the newest direction for state public schools, meant to help students compete internationally. It calls for more hands-on learning in the classroom and an understanding of technology, critical thinking and communication skills.
But Manchin said he's heard from educators around the state that they need to catch their breath and get up to speed on the new Global 21 initiatives, because "perhaps we've gone a little too far."
During her interview, Marple said that Global 21 has been "a very organized, consistent journey."
State educators have worked to improve curriculum and make technology more available, created data systems to monitor student performance and offered more after-school and summer programs.
Marple recognizes that state test scores need to improve, but recent ACT and SAT results show some positive trends, she said.
"We have a long way to go," she said. "Changing how we teach and what we teach is not a small task.
"Improvement is not a singular action," she said. "It's about doing a multitude of things to improve student performance."
State board member Gayle Manchin took part in Thursday's deliberations and vote, even though a state teachers union leader had asked her to recuse herself. Manchin's husband, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, is Mark Manchin's cousin and appointed him to head the state School Building Authority. Joe Manchin also appointed his wife to the state school board.
On Thursday, Gayle Manchin asked Marple about the idea of asking lawmakers for more money when state budgets are very tight.
Marple quoted the New York Times and said if you want to prepare children for the future it's really about sparing no expense. Still, she understands there's a finite amount of funding for education.
She believes that technology is one of those "big ticket" items that must be addressed, and wants technology "to be in the hands of every student."
Board member Mike Green asked Marple how to get reluctant parents involved in their child's education.
"Sometimes it's just not possible to get parents involved," she said, and there's no "magic bullet" to fix the problem.
"You can make a difference for that child when they walk through the door," she said. "We have to make it work for them when they're in school."
Board member Bill White asked both Marple and Manchin about their leadership styles.
"As a leader I think you have to encourage people, you have to empower people," Marple said.
Marple said she wants to surround herself with people who "are smarter than me" and who "work harder than I do."
Manchin, who said he's a "big-picture guy," just like White, told board members he's tough but fair and is just as likely to hug a person as he is to push for her best.
"I surround myself with people who know detail," Manchin said. "If you surround yourself with good people, you're going to be successful with that model."
Reach Davin White at davinwh...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1254.