The group wants to enhance education
opportunities for students in Cabell, Lincoln, Mingo, Putnam and Wayne
counties. Tammy White is an attorney with Ferrell, White and Legg in Huntington. She along
with others in the Huntington
community decided something needs to be done to change educational problems
“To overcome some of the discouragement
that people sense in the current economic times, people are willing and there
is such a ground swell of criticism, well let’s turn that around and let’s look
at the positives and stop talking about negatives,” White said.
Part of the group’s mission includes
reaching out to schools in each county to find out what problems they
encounter. That process will be made easier by those who joined in the forum,
which included school officials from each county, as well as state and Marshall University officials. Gerry Sawrey is
the assistant superintendent of Cabell County Schools. She said there are many
problems- like poverty, drug addiction and lack of structure- that students there
“There has been a dramatic decline in
the importance that people put on public education and this group is one of
several actually that have sprung up in the area that are really trying to make
a difference with our students,” Sawrey said.
Sawrey says members of the West Virginia
Women’s Education Forum have unique abilities in many different areas. She said
this should allow the group to do things that previously haven’t been
“The women who are gathered here today,
I guess I would call them women of influence in one aspect or another, and they
can not only bring their personal passion to bear on this, but they have
knowledge of resources in the community that we can access,” Sawrey said.
Sawrey said sometimes coming up with a
solution to an educational problem can be as simple as finding ways to make
sure the children show up each day.
“You see across the state various
reports of courts becoming involved in truancy issues, the courts have to be
our place of last resort, we have to start with children and the parents of
young children, helping them understand how important it is to be in school every
day,” Sawrey said.
The keynote speaker at the forum was West
Virginia First Lady, Joanne Tomblin. She said it’s nice to have the help of a
group of women that wants to make a difference.
“This is like my left arm working over
here. It’s wonderful and this is the kind of thing I speak to everyday as the
first lady and as an educator and that the more people that buy into this and
do these things the better it’s going to be for the state and great help for me,”
Tomblin said it’s about working together
to find solutions.
“I think one of the main things is
they’re going to bring connectivity to each other and these students and once
you bring people on your team, you being to find resources for just those
things. They may be able to find grants or other resources that help students
financially,” Tomblin said.
The group plans to meet each year in