CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- New state schools Superintendent Jim Phares plans to push initiatives that bolster vocational education programs, move professional development closer to classrooms, and give counties more flexibility in setting their school schedules.
Phares outlined the initiatives Tuesday during a presentation to state lawmakers.
"I'm excited about this process," said Phares, who was sworn in as superintendent last week. "The one common word we cling to is change. People are expecting it."
Phares replaced Jorea Marple, who was fired abruptly in November.
In recent days, Phares has met with county superintendents, school board members and teachers union leaders.
"We did more listening than we did talking," Phares said.
At the top of his "to-do" list: enhancing career and technical education programs. Educators suggested that such programs could start in middle schools.
"They understand it's important for jobs," he said.
Delegate Larry Williams, D-Preston, endorsed the technical education initiative, which he said will also help improve students' math and science skills.
"When kids . . . understand what they like to do, they can have ownership and grow from that," Williams said. "It gives students an opportunity . . . to learn from their hands."