With his bulldog Babydog by his side, Gov. Jim Justice traveled to Leon Elementary in Mason County on Tuesday to sign four bills passed during the West Virginia Legislative session. All of them were education based.
After a playful half hour of taking questions in the school gymnasium from the all-student audience, the governor had students help hold his pen as he began signing House Bill 3035, the Third Grade Success Act, putting teachers aides in grades one through three.
He told the kids the classroom helpers would help them better prepare for the future.
“What we want to have happen is we want to ensure that all of you, every single last one, gets off in school to a great start and you’re able to master certain skills that will absolutely take you off in a really good way. We don’t want anybody behind,” Justice said.
The governor and the students signed three other bills into law:
House Bill 3369 creates a School Safety Unit within the Division of Protective Services.
Senate Bill 422 requires public schools to publish curriculum online at the beginning of each new school year.
And, House Bill 2005 establishes the dual enrollment pilot program for high school juniors and seniors in conjunction with state colleges, universities and community and technical colleges.
Leon Elementary is the home school of fourth grade teacher and Senate Education Committee Chair Sen. Amy Grady, R-Mason, who was emcee of the event. Grady read questions to Justice submitted by the students.
Olivia from the sixth grade asked if the governor got a lot of letters. That prompted the longtime high school basketball coach to tell a story of perseverance.
“I got a letter the other day from a kid I coached 25 years ago,’ Justice said. “I hadn’t heard from him in 25 years and this kid was just like a lot of y’all, didn’t have a whole lot growing up just like me. This kid worked really hard and in his letter he told me, ‘You told us a long time ago when we were playing for you in the national tournament to keep sawing the wood.’ He asked me what that meant and I told him that it meant just to stay at it and you’ll make steady progress. The student said, ‘I went to West Point, then I went to army ranger school and said in every deployment I ever had, I reminded himself every day to keep sawing the wood.’”
The question that got the biggest reaction from Justice and the kids was, “What is your favorite food?” Justice said he and Babydog were the same – chicken nuggets. A few minutes later, someone handed the governor a bag of chicken nuggets.
Babydog smelled them, and got up off his front legs. Justice fed his beloved pet a nugget, but didn’t eat one himself.