Photo Credit: Davis & Elkins College

WV Public Broadcasting Launches Inspiring West Virginians at D&E

Davis & Elkins College education majors and their professors have a new teaching tool that will help them inspire their future students. On Wednesday, West Virginia Public Broadcasting, Davis & Elkins College and the Myles Family Foundation joined together for the launch of “Inspiring West Virginians,” an innovative video web series designed to encourage student exploration of careers and offer teachers engaging classroom materials.

The videos for students in middle and high school is an extension of the popular WVPB “Inspiring West Virginians” radio documentary series, funded by the Myles Family Foundation and produced by Elkins native Jean Snedegar. The accompanying curriculum, West Virginia LearningMedia, provides free digital access to more than 100,000 educational resources for PreK-12 teachers. The platform was developed through a partnership with PBS and WCBH Educational Foundation.

Scott Finn, WVPB executive director, led a session for students and professors that showed them how to access the information and incorporate it into their classrooms.

“It’s exciting to watch our students explore all the lesson plans and the visuals,” says Sue Talbott, D&E assistant professor of education who coordinates students’ field experience. “This will benefit teachers and guidance counselors.”

Joe Mehl, a sophomore education major from Parkersburg, W.Va., says he hopes to use much of the visual content of the platform to enhance student learning.

“As a future educator, I see a lot of value in these lesson plans,” Mehl says. “They’re much different from some of the general plans we’ve used before because they are interactive and because you can pick different grade levels.”

Photo Credit: Davis & Elkins College
Photo Credit: Davis & Elkins College

Donna Carr, chair of the D&E Division of Education and Sport Science, says an additional educational session for West Virginia LearningMedia will be presented at the College for area teachers and D&E education majors.

In commenting on the video presentations, D&E President ‘Buck’ Smith said, “Life is often filled with numbers and data and analytics, but it’s the human story that conveys the nuances of life.”

The videos feature dynamic West Virginians who are leaders in the sciences and engineering. The five-part web series profiles two leaders with local ties: John Ochsendorf of Elkins, a world renowned structural engineer, author and MIT professor, and Rodney Bartgis of the Valley Bend area, a field biologist, plant ecologist and conservationist, credited with discovering numerous plants in the Mountain State. Others profiled in the video web series include Kim Weaver of Monongalia County, a pioneer in X-ray astronomy; Lewis Cantley of Big Chimney, a biochemist and inaugural winner of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences; and Geoffrey Cousins of McDowell County, innovative pioneer of robotic-assisted heart surgery.

The videos of the local leaders were showcased in Wednesday’s launch at Graceland Inn attended by Bartgis, and Ochsendorf’s father, Gene, along with a host of Davis & Elkins students, educators and administrators, area youth and special guests.

In addressing the group, June Myles says the idea for the series came about when she saw a need for positive profiles of West Virginians.

“I had been disheartened in how the public media portrays West Virginia and West Virginians,” Myles said.

The project grew a step further when she and Snedegar saw a need for teaching youth about the successes of West Virginians.

“It’s important to have role models who come from your own backyard, someone who understands what West Virginia is about,” says Myles, who serves as chair of the Davis & Elkins College Board of Trustees. “Don’t these (stories) make you proud to be West Virginians?”

Related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Davis & Elkins College is located in Elkins, 2 hours east of Charleston, 3 hours south of Pittsburgh and 4 hours west of Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit the College website at or call 304-637-1243