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NASA Names a Spacecraft After Beloved West Virginian
Chris Oxley reads from the book, "Thank You, Omu!" in the award-winning video that he directed and produced for WVPB's Read For The Record educational initiative. It netted WVPB a national community engagement award from NETA, shown below.
Our Read For The Record Project Wins A National Community Engagement Award
WVPB has won a national award for community engagement from the National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA), which honors public media achievements nationwide during its 2021 NETA Conference and CPB (Corporation for Public Broadcasting) Public Media Thought Leader Forum last week.

The Community Engagement National Project Award was presented to WVPB virtually during The 52nd Annual Public Media Awards (PMAs). The winning initiative was a statewide education outreach program targeting early readers. WVPB employees, friends and volunteers – 200 people total – took one day, November 7, 2019, to read the same book to children in all 55 counties in West Virginia. They read “Thank You, Omu!” by Oge Mora as a part of Jumpstart’s international initiative, Read For The Record. WVPB also produced a companion video of employees reading the book against the colorful backdrop of the author’s illustrations. VIEW THE VIDEO HERE.

Chuck Roberts, WVPB’s executive director, read to students at Mary C. Snow Elementary on the West Side of Charleston, West Virginia, that day. “This project is a great example of the power of community that we talk about all the time at WVPB,” Roberts said. “We are humbled that the folks at NETA recognize how important it is for us to give back to the community, whose support enables us to take part in initiatives like Read For The Record. Whenever we can have a positive impact on our littlest West Virginians, we know we’re on the right track. Congratulations to the entire WVPB team, our volunteers and all of the participants!”
The project was spearheaded by the WVPB’s Education and Production departments. More than 200 books were donated, and readings took place in 54 libraries, 53 schools, Head Start programs, home-school programs, after-school programs and day-care facilities across the Mountain State. In all, 5,181 children were read to that day, and the video was shared across WVPB’s television and social channels and with schools, classrooms and teachers, who shared it widely to promote literacy and further the project’s impact.

Kelly Griffith, WVPB’s Education Director and former teacher of more than 16 years, said children with strong literacy skills are more likely to succeed at every age. Reading to children supports that goal. “A love of reading can fuel a passion for learning that benefits children for years to come. I’m so proud we reached so many children across West Virginia,” Griffith said.

Chris Oxley produced the winning video. He’s a 22-year veteran director/producer at WVPB with a variety of productions under his belt. “As we all know, life can come at you quickly and sometimes with discouraging results. National recognition such as this, however, is an appreciated act of encouragement, which we all can use right now, and a testament to my generous colleagues who gave their talents both on- and off-camera.

“It’s obviously a little more difficult at the moment to go out into the community and read to children or seniors, but the idea with Read for the Record is to celebrate literacy and promote education,” Oxley said. “As this particular video affirms, individuals and organizations can still do that to an extent by way of video communication, television programming and reading to those in our social bubble.”

Larry Dowling, director of WVPB Television Production, said the Read For The Record project is “a bit of a time capsule,” capturing the spirit, essence and personality of our staff. “The award directly reflects the talent we have in the organization as a whole, not just the Production and Education departments. Nothing occurs in a vacuum, and this NETA award should instill a sense of pride in the entire WVPB team.”

The PMAs honor the finest work in education, community engagement, marketing/communications and content. This year saw a record number of entries from stations across the country.  

“Congratulations to all of this year’s nominees and awardees,” said NETA president Eric Hyyppa. “Every year, for the past 52 years, these awards have celebrated excellence in public media. This year, that excellence was amplified by your profoundly creative and inspired responses to multiple crises. All across the country, public media stations rose to the moment and served their communities during their time of critical need. Well done!”
NASA Names Spacecraft After State Native, Katherine Johnson
A new spacecraft headed to the International Space Station later this month will be named after NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, a native West Virginian.

“Her work at NASA quite literally launched Americans into space, and her legacy continues to inspire young Black women every day,” Northrop Grumman wrote in a press release this week.

The company traditionally names each spacecraft after a person who played a pivotal role in human space flight.

Over her 33-year NASA career, Johnson’s calculations were critical to some of America’s great space achievements, including John Glenn’s trip orbiting the Earth and the Apollo 11 moon landing.

“If she says they’re good, then I’m ready to go,” Glenn notably said.

Johnson, a native of White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, received a degree in mathematics and French from West Virginia State College at the age of 18. She took every math class offered at the school. After that, she was one of three Black students chosen to integrate West Virginia’s graduate school and the first Black woman to attend graduate school at West Virginia University. In 2015, Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, President Barack Obama. She passed away last year at the age of 101.
Is There An Upside to Distance Learning?
No doubt about it: the pandemic has taken a toll on students' mental health, and distance learning just adds to the struggle. But, could there be some hidden benefits? Join Myles Bess and students from Black River Falls, Wisconsin, as they uncover some unexpected upsides of distance learning, then ask your students or children to share their own perspectives. LEARN MORE.
Get your young authors busy crafting and illustrating their stories because we are now accepting submissions for the PBS Kids Writers Contest! Be sure to read all the rules first! LEARN THE RULES.
NPR Reports: Educators Consider Extending School Into Summer
Because of the pandemic most U.S. students are still experiencing disrupted learning. Some education leaders are asking: How do we come back from this? Should we extend learning into the summer? LEARN MORE.
Exploring the Poetry of Maya Angelou             
Grades 6-12 • Website/Teaching Guide  • English/Language Arts • U.S. History
This teaching guide helps instructors use a specific primary source set, The Poetry of Maya Angelou, in the classroom. It offers discussion questions, classroom activities, and primary source analysis tools. It is intended to spark pedagogical creativity by giving a sample approach to the material. LEARN MORE.
Weather Trek
Grades K-5 • Media Gallery • Science • MathematicsCareers
Weather is the combination of sunlight, wind, snow or rain, and temperature in a particular region at a particular time. People measure these conditions to describe and record the weather and to notice patterns over time. Scientists record patterns so that they can make predictions about what kind of weather might happen next. Students practice skills of observation, record keeping and scientific method by using these resources. LEARN MORE.

50 Years Of Downhill In West Virginia
West Virginia’s first ski resort opened in 1971 and was the beginning of a million-dollar tourism industry in the state. Now five ski areas are located in the state, providing a positive impact on the economy and hours of downhill and cross country fun! LEARN MORE!
Join Mr. Grant for a super fun mix of active stretching and high intensity workouts for our West Virginia students! Wellness Wednesdays airs on WVPB-TV Wednesday mornings at 9:30 a.m. right after WVDE's Education Station!
February is Black History Month, and it’s never too early to begin celebrating and teaching your child about Black leaders of yesterday (and today!). As you begin exploring the Black scientists, politicians, activists, artists and more who have left their mark on U.S. history, encourage your child’s curiosity about the contributions and accomplishments of Black people. HERE'S HOW.
Celebrating Black Leaders with Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum
Gather the gang for Family Night, weekly family viewing events featuring movie specials or themed programming. Celebrate black leaders this week with Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum. Xavier, Yadina and Brad travel back in time to meet leaders such as Harriet Tubman, Jesse Owens, Thurgood Marshall and more! February 5,6, 7 from 7-9 p.m.
Do you have ideas for what you’d like to see in our newsletter? Maybe you just want to give us feedback on the WVPB, PBS and NPR classroom resources you like best. Email us at education@wvpublic.org.