by ALISON BUNTING
Tribune Correspondent

KEYSER — Employees, no matter what their position, have the opportunity to make a difference in whether or not a student succeeds in the Mineral County system.
This principle was underscored as incoming teachers, aides, custodians, cafeteria workers and bus drivers were welcomed during the annual New Employee Luncheon held Friday, Aug. 13, at the Wind Lea conference center.
Steven Peer, assistant superintendent and treasurer for Mineral County Schools, acted as emcee for remarks given by administrators, first introducing Superintendent Skip Hackworth.
“Whatever you do, you’re so important to the boys and girls that
you encounter each day,” said Hackworth.
“Kids do well if they know people care about them. We all do, no matter what the age. What we do and say can cause kids to stay or drop out of school.”
Hackworth thanked the newcomers for choosing the Mineral County school system as their employer, noting that many hail from the Hampshire County school system.
“Personally, I think Mineral County is the best school system in the state,” said Terry LaRue, member of the Mineral County Board of Education. “Other counties look to see what we’ve been doing,” he said.
LaRue also welcomed the new employees and reminded them that they will be working with students who have the potential to become assets to the community.
“Don’t hesitate to call any member of the board if you have any problems,”  he said, wishing each one a “great school year.”
“Each one of us will make an impression,” said Peer. “My fondest memory is of the cook.”
John Ritchie, president of the MCEA or Mineral County Education Association, and Beth Gabbert, representing the MCSSPA or Mineral County Schools Service Personnel Association, welcomed the new employees and encouraged them to join these organizations.
Shelley Friend, from First United Bank & Trust, also greeted the new employees. Peer noted that the board has used this bank for three years, depositing some $50 million during the course of a school year.
First United also underwrote the cost of the banquet, which was catered by Me Me D’s.
Peer also introduced Susan Grady, the new director of personnel services, who replaces Pat Mason following his retirement.
Elk Garden Primary welcomes new teacher, Kara Lyons.
Fountain Primary welcomes Helen Carder as secretary/accountant and Krista Albright, teacher.
Frankfort Middle School welcomes Stacey Liller, custodian; Gary Trail, teacher; and Deborah Leedom, aide.
Frankfort High School welcomes Kelli Smith, custodian, and Michelle Reeves, teacher.
Keyser Primary Middle School welcomes Kevin McKenzie, custodian, and teachers Roy Boyle, Mark Kowalski, Rae Piraino, Lynn Smith, William Snoberger and Sarah Wolfe.
Keyser High School welcomes Joseph Keckley, assistant principal; George Rhodes, custodian; Blair Knouse, teacher; and Krista Smith, aide.
Mineral County Alternative School welcomes Winifred Kennedy, aide.
Mineral County Technical Center welcomes Robin Haupt, teacher.
The Transportation Department welcomes Andrew Keplinger and Lecia Riggleman, school bus operators.
New employees hired during 2009-2010 after last year’s banquet, also were invited to attend.
They include Richard Thompson, counselor for Burlington, Elk Garden, New Creek and Fountain primary schools; Frank Lloyd, computer technician for the county administrative offices; Kelli Plum, cafeteria manager, and Sandra Schadler, aide/LPN for KPMS; and Maria Silvia Guitierrez Luna, KHS teacher.
Also from last year are Lisa Hoopengarner, cook, and Jennifer Haye, aide for FMS; Margaret Bean, cook for Wiley Ford Primary; and Isaac and Andrew Pancake, bus operators, and John Bruno, mechanic for the Transportation Department.