I have covered the Mineral County Board of Education off and on (mostly on) over the length of my career as a local journalist, and have gotten to know several school superintendents in that time.

By Liz Beavers
Tribune Managing Editor
I have covered the Mineral County Board of Education off and on (mostly on) over the length of my career as a local journalist, and have gotten to know several school superintendents in that time.
From a personal standpoint, some of them have been easier to work with than others. Some were hard to get hold of; others were always open to questions from the hometown paper … even when the questions were ones they didn’t necessarily want to answer.
Some of the superintendents were well received by the public, and some had talent for creating an uproar at times.
When Shawn Dilly first stepped into the role as head of the county school system in 2014, it was almost an instant uproar. He came in hard and fast, putting into action some cost-saving measures such as moving the Alternative School into a section of the Keyser Middle School building and taking a critical look at how staffing could be optimized.
The problem is, the new superintendent, seeming anxious to prove himself, went about the changes perhaps a bit too aggressively, and employees across the county were outraged. They felt that their jobs were being threatened and that their students would be negatively impacted by the changes.
Board meetings were packed and often rowdy, and many of them called for his removal.
And while they were exciting meetings to write about, it was a difficult time for the county school system and a definite learning experience for Mr. Dilly.
Unfortunately, the discontent of that time, while it eventually died down in general, was still not forgotten or forgiven by some employees and even some school board members.
Equally unfortunately, the confrontational nature of those early meetings overshadowed some of the innovative ideas which, thankfully, Mr. Dilly has been able to pursue during his tenure as superintendent.
The Cyber Academy is up and running and from what I can tell is successful both as an alternative for students who don’t necessary fit into a traditional classroom setting and also as a boost for enrollment for Mineral County.
Never one to confuse Freedom of Religion as Freedom From Religion, Dilly has been instrumental in bringing some faith-based behavior-positive programs into the schools for those students who wish to participate.
With an eye diligently pointed to the future, he has been a proponent of teaching technical skills and career choices over the traditional push for students to go to college whether they want to or not.
It would seem that Mr. Dilly’s educational philosophies have been on the cutting edge of a much-needed shift in educational priorities and how they fit into the changing job market, and he has earned the respect of fellow educators all over the state and the nation for it.
Unfortunately, he apparently did not have the same respect of his own board, who, rather than opting to not renew his contract, simply took no action – despite consistently giving his positive performance evaluations.
This left Mr. Dilly in limbo earlier this year until he finally tendered his resignation, saying he and the board were “going in opposite directions.”
I, for one, will be sorry to see him go and I believe the county school system will suffer if some of the programs he started are not continued.
Let me be clear, I mean no disrespect at all to superintendent-elect Troy Ravenscroft, who starts his new job on  July 1. I look forward to working with him in the future. Being originally from Mineral County, he automatically has the hometown advantage as far as familiarity with the system, and judging from his comments during his public interview, he seems to have the best interests of the students at heart.
I just hope that he will start his new job with an open mind and consider continuing the forward motion which Mr. Dilly started during his tenure.
The scope and process of education is definitely changing rapidly and those in charge of the system must be ready to embrace new ideas.
Sometimes those new ideas come with much controversy … but that controversy can be worked out if everyone works together.

Liz Beavers can be reached at lbeavers@newstribune.info.