Extra Credit

Live from the Scripps National Spelling Bee

Charleston Daily Mail reporter Samuel Speciale will provide updates from the Scripps National Spelling Bee near Washington, D.C.

varunThe speller sponsored by the Gazette-Mail is Varun Kukkillaya, a John Adams Middle School 8th grader who is making a repeat appearance at the national bee. Go Varun!

Other West Virginia spellers include Andrew Gould, a sixth-grader from Weston, and Marleah Knight, an eighth-grader from Morgantown.

Varun will get most of the Daily Mail’s attention, but we’ll try to keep you updated on the other WV spellers as well.

Follow along below for updates:

Live Blog Live from the National Spelling Bee

Just a dab will do

Facing cuts to the custodial supplies budget, one Kanawha County school officials offered a handy money-saving technique. He sent the following email to teachers across the county:

The Purchasing Department and Maintenance have been working together in an effort to reduce our custodial cost for the coming year. One of our biggest cost is hand soap.

Have you noticed the pump on our hand soap dispensers, if you push the pump down all the way you get a considerable amount of soap. I am a large sized adult and one full pump on that dispenser, and I can almost take a bath. I know a five year old would be able to take a bath with that much soap and some left over in his ears. Our children are wired to grab hold of that pump and push all the way down and maybe twice. If we could reduce the amount of soap being dispense we could cut our cost by a third or half.

My wife is a small person and she always fills her hands with two pumps of soap. I am smart enough not to take on that discussion. She can use whatever amount of soap she deems necessary.

A retired custodian from Pratt Elementary shared her secret with me about reducing hand soap cost. She would take a rubber band and wrap around and around the pump mechanism to restrict its travel. Thus a smaller amount would be put in their hands, and children being wired to use the full stroke of the pump would get a smaller amount of soap, still enough to thoroughly wash their hands, but not enough to scrub their ears.

I encourage each of you to try this in your schools, experiment on yourself. Simply press out a dab of soap on your hands and wash as you normally would. See if you get the benefits of a nice soapy hand with much less soap. If you are comfortable with this and want to save your custodial budget: give it a try.

We have asked the soap supplier to see if they can shorten the stroke on the pump. We have to remember they are in the business of selling soap, they sell less if we use less and they are not readily agreeable to shorten these pumps. They want you to use more than you need.

Just a dab will do.


As part of the national Teacher Appreciation Week, the West Virginia Department of Education on Monday launched a year-long campaign asking citizens to thank their favorite teacher by posting messages and sharing photos on social media websites.

By using the hashtag #wvteachersrule, all posts will be cataloged and easy to view on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

In a press release, state Superintendent Michael Martirano had the following to say:

As Teacher Appreciation Week is kicked off on May 4, I wanted to say thank you for what you do each and every day. These words are not said often enough to teachers.

Every one of us can think of a teacher who really made a difference. It’s this special teacher that made us want to become teachers ourselves. I come from a long line of teachers so it was a natural career choice. My family was driven to make a difference and serve our community. I always say that I am a teacher first and foremost who just happens to be the state superintendent of schools.

As educators you face both joys and challenges in the classroom. When you decided to become teachers, you chose a profession unlike any other. On a daily basis you wear many hats: educator, disciplinarian, advocate, psychologist, conflict manager, classroom manager, community organizer, recruiter, fund raiser, mentor and more. It is precisely the multifaceted roles that we take on that make teaching both challenging and rewarding.

As part of the One Voice, One Focus: All Students Achieving Vision Plan we shine a light on the importance of recruiting and retaining highly effective teachers in every West Virginia classroom. Research tells us that you are the single most important factor in how much a child learns at school. Your role in the classroom is ever more critical as we increase the graduation rate, eradicate the dropout crisis and ensure that every child is in school every day.

As teachers today, you must do more than teach basic skills. You must use quality teaching techniques to push students beyond mastery of basic skills to become tomorrow’s better educated worker, who can manage complexity, solve problems and think critically. Your charge is not just to ensure that your students can live in the world as it is, but to ensure that they have the skills and knowledge that will enable them to succeed in the world that awaits them.

Thank you for your daily efforts to meet this challenge. We, as a state, must make sure that we celebrate outstanding educators like you — not just during Teacher Appreciation Week — but every day for the important work you do with our children.

We are launching a year-long social media campaign to thank teachers titled WV Teachers Rule. As part of the social media campaign, we are asking that every citizen send out a message or share a picture using #wvteachersrule to thank their favorite teachers. I am looking forward to reviewing all of the tweets, posts and pictures.