Today, I mailed this letter to all of our WV state senators 

Hello Senators,

   Testimony given by the state board of education on 3/3/20 during the Senate Education meeting was misleading! Please consider all facts below when voting on HB 2775

--For 2020 and beyond, students only need 18 credits. The rest can be electives. See chart below, taken from the WV State Board of Ed website.

Students in most counties have 7 periods a day or 28 credits over a 4-year period.

This leaves 10 free credits.

--Do you know what many students do with 10 free periods—some take electives, some leave school early, some just sit in the library or office with nothing to do.

--There is plenty of room in a schedule for 1 basic course in a much-needed life skill.

Art can be an elective! Dance can be an elective! Anatomy can be an elective!

                                                                 Personal Finance isn’t an elective in life!

-The board of ed representative stated that students can get personal finance in other classes and that there is a curriculum already.

This is again misleading. Students may get 2 weeks of personal finance in their civics class. That’s all!!! Even that isn’t enforced.

-Can anyone of you reading this honestly tell me that you learned all about banking, mortgages, loans, insurance, investing, taxes, mutual funds, stocks, CDs, IRAs, compounded interest, etc. in a two-week period?

-The state board of education was provided with a completely free curriculum and teacher training for personal finance.

-The Chair and Director of the WVU Finance Department also provided testimony of their commitment to provide free teacher training.

-Perhaps the state board of education doesn’t want to have another responsibility in regulating this much needed course. However, that is not what’s important here.

-Our children deserve 1 class that will help them out of poverty! One class that will prevent them from living in debt, experiencing credit fraud and exploitation, Insurance scams, real estate foreclosures, etc.

                                                                   Personal Finance isn’t an elective in life!

-Allowing county school boards to offer personal finance as an elective is what we already have. Some do offer it, but others don’t. When they do, it’s often a watered- down version for students with disabilities only.

-All students ought to be required to pass 1 credit of personal finance before graduation. Otherwise, they will miss out and learn the hard way about personal finance.


                                                                   Personal Finance isn’t an elective in life!

Would you want your child prepared?

Please change the bill back to its original wording and vote YES to allow our children to be proficient in personal finance by REQUIRING 1 credit for graduation!

Please call with any questions! 304.XXX-XXXX. Thank you.

Donna Joy

WV Teacher

As per the state Board of Ed website:

5.4.a. High School Programming (Grades 9-12) for the Class of 2020 and beyond

Chart IV: Foundations for High-Quality High School Programming (Grades 9-12)

24 credit required: 18 prescribed and 6 personalized

Chart IV High School Programming (9-10, 11-12) Graduation Requirements

Graduation requirements are effective for all students enrolled in the 2016-2017 school year, and thereafter or as otherwise specified. Courses needed for graduation require mastery of approved content standards. Students should consult with their chosen postsecondary educational/training program when choosing optional upper-level courses. Students who do not demonstrate mastery of the approved content standards shall be provided extra assistance and time through personalized learning and support.

Graduation Requirements (18 prescribed)

English Language Arts*

4 credits

English 9

English 10

English 11

English 12 or English 12 CR or Transition English Language Arts for Seniors*

An AP® English course may be substituted for any of the above courses.


4 credits

Math I or Algebra I

Math II or Geometry

Math III STEM, or Math III LA or Math III TR or Algebra II

Math IV – Trigonometry/Pre-calculus or Math IV TR or Transition Mathematics for Seniors* or any other fourth course option (see Chart V)

An AP® Mathematics course may be substituted for an equivalent course or any fourth course option.


3 credits

Earth and Space Science (Grade 9)

Biology or AP® Biology (Grade 10)

One additional science course or AP® science course (see Chart V)

Social Studies*

4 credits

1 credit from World Studies or an AP® Social Studies course (see Chart V)

1 credit from United States Studies[1] or United State Studies-Comprehensive or AP® U.S. History

1 credit from an additional Social Studies course or an AP® Social Studies course (see Chart V)

1 credit from Civics for the Next Generation or AP® United States Government and Politics.

Physical Education*

1 credit

Physical Education 9-12 (WV Education Information System [hereinafter WVEIS] course 6609). At least 50 percent of class time for physical education should be spent in moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity.


1 credit

Health 9-12 (WVEIS course 6909)

The Arts*

1 credit

[1] Best practice encourages students who take United States Studies to take Contemporary Studies as their next course of study.

Some counties require additional graduation requirements. Please check with your school Counselor or Advisor to determine local requirements.

PLEASE NOTE: It is important to check with your postsecondary institutions to determine what additional requirements they have for admissions into various programs. Additionally many scholarship programs and the NCAA may require specific courses not required by WV.

NCAA eligibility requirements

[1] Best practice encourages students who take United States Studies to take Contemporary Studies as their next course of study.2/20


I couldn't let Black History Month end without sharing the above article about Dapper Dan. I owe him a huge "Thank you" for helping my daughter feel accepted and even valued in this crazy world of racial prejudices.

The excitement in her voice when she shared the Dapper Dan photo shoot was so touching that I wrote this poem about it. I went on to submit the poem to the editors of the Crystal Wilkinson anthology and it was accepted--out in April.

In this poem, I am giving a voice to those of mixed races who don't feel welcome by any race. I am also pointing out the subtle forms of racism which are felt, especially by our children. The irony is that no one ever attacked her for the race that she actually is.

In a world of assumptions and projected hatred for many, it's nice to feel accepted.


In 2nd grade, you ran from the school bus, so excited! “Mommy, there’s a girl in my class who looks just like me!”

She had brown skin and shiny, black hair, like you.

Saddened, I hadn’t known that you noticed that our skin or hair colors were different,

Or that it mattered, but glad that you found someone who looked like you.

In middle school, you came home crying. “Go back to Mexico Go back to your own country, We don’t want you here. How did you get that Cold sore? What you been suckin on?”

Hurting inside. 

We ought to get Lewis to go up there.

 Wait until they see your 6’7’’ black brother. 

They’ll be so afraid, they will definitely leave you alone then.

First year of high school, varsity cheer squad, hair down to your waist.

“They said I have to cut my hair, So, all the girls have the same length,

 So, we look alike for the cheer competition.” 

Tell them that it’s against our religion, that your hair is your connection to the earth, 

and you only cut your hair for special occasions.

Senior year, all the kids got summer jobs, even the delinquents, 

But still no calls.

 From now on, you write “Amanda” on the applications.

After graduating from WVU 

You run off to NYC-- No need to wonder why.

“Mommy, I went to this event. 

They asked to take a picture of me with my new outfit on.” 

Dapper Dan said, “Come to the photo shoot tomorrow.” 

“No, I told them I wasn’t a model (only 5’2), but they said come anyway.

Yes. I wore Gucci. It was so much fun!”

“Mommy, I got this job in the city, as a stylist, for famous people, like movie stars and Lebron James 

Have you heard of him, Mommy?

I told them that I didn’t grow up in the city, and think it will hurt my chances for jobs.”

They said, “Everyone here is from NY. 

You’re unique.

 You’re a mixed girl from West Virginia.”



I just sent the below email to every member of the WV Senate- personalizing each.

I addressed these key points because, after speaking with a few members of the House who opposed the bill, I realized they knew little about the situation. I am trying to be proactive--before the Senate votes next week.


I am a WV teacher and I am asking for a couple minutes of your time. If you would at least read this email, I would appreciate it. This is in regards to a bill (personal finance credit for graduation) that you will be considering soon. Thank you. Donna Joy

Personal Finance is so much more than balancing a checkbook. Below is partial list of topics included in a basic personal finance class.

Currently, students are allotted two weeks in their civics classes to learn about these life changing topics.

Additionally, student’s schedules are filled with numerous electives, study hall or service learning. Many just leave school early, during their senior year. Our schools offer 28 credits, over a four-year high school career, but only 22 are required. That leaves 6 free credits.

Please give our youngsters at least one class that will help prepare them for the real world and, in some cases, pull them out of poverty.

WVU has agreed to work with our schools and NGPF to offer completely free curriculum and teacher training.

Can you tell me, with all sincerity, that Chemistry and Calculus are more useful to our kids, overall, than these topics?

Please Vote YES for the children's future bill: Personal Finance Literacy for Graduation

1. Checking

2. Saving

3. Types of Credit

4. Managing Credit

5. Paying for College

6. Budgeting

7. Investing

8. Financial Pitfalls

9. Career

10. Taxes

11. Insurance

12. Mortgages

13. IRA’s

14. Stocks & Bonds

15. Retirement


HB 2775


I am so excited!!! My Bill has passed the House!!! 

It's so wonderful that our legislators put our youth before their parties. It gives me goosebumps, Thank you, thank you!!!

Thank you to my friends who testified on behalf of this bill today--Naomi, Director of Finance of WVU & Dan O'Connell, Representative from NGPF who has promised a completely free curriculum and teacher training-- indefinitely!!!

We still have one more hurdle--the Senate, but I am confident that they will agree that our kids need this!


84th Legislature - Second Regular Session

HB 2775 Requiring each high school student RCS# 221

to complete a full credit course of 2/18/2020

study in personal finance 12:11 PM



YEAS: 89

Anderson Doyle Kelly, D. Rohrbach

Angelucci Ellington Kelly, J. Rowan

Atkinson Estep-Burton Lavender-Bowe Shott

Azinger Evans Linville Skaff

Barnhart Fast Little Sponaugle

Barrett Fleischauer Longstreth Staggers

Bartlett Fluharty Lovejoy Steele

Bates Foster Mandt Swartzmiller

Bibby Graves Martin, C.R. Sypolt

Boggs Hamrick Martin, P. Thompson, C.

Brown, N. Hanna Maynard Thompson, R.

Brown, S. Hansen Miley Tomblin

Butler Hardy Miller Toney

Byrd Hicks Nelson Walker

Cadle Higginbotham Pack Waxman

Campbell Hill Paynter Westfall

Capito Hornbuckle Pethtel Williams

Caputo Hott Phillips Worrell

Cooper Householder Porterfield Zukoff

Cowles Howell Pushkin Speaker Hanshaw

Criss Jeffries, D. Pyles

Dean Jeffries, J. Queen

Diserio Jennings Robinson


Canestraro Kump Rowe Summers

Espinosa McGeehan Storch Wilson


Effective and Ineffective School Board Members

By: Great Schools Staff

Signs of an effective school board member

Here are signs of a school board member focused on moving the school district forward and educating all students to meet high standards:

Great school board members have a clear vision for the district. They set the vision and goals, and measure the success of the district and superintendent against the goals.

Great school board members communicate their actions to the community. Through public discourse and written reports, great school board members keep the public informed of the district’s progress and challenges.

Great school board members work as a team. They collaborate well with others and are respectful of the other board members and superintendent.

Great school board members adopt a fiscally sound district budget. They pay attention to finances and regularly monitor the fiscal health of the district.

Great school board members focus on what is best for all students. They focus on student achievement and implementing policies that will ensure success for all students.

Great school board members advocate at the local, state and national level for public education. They take advantage of opportunities to communicate the needs of public schools to other levels of government and advocate for strong public schools.

Signs of an ineffective school board member

If you notice any of the following signs, it’s time to find some new candidates to run for your local board:

The school board member continually focuses on one issue or talks aimlessly at meetings.

The school board member doesn’t conduct him or herself in a respectful, collaborative manner in public.

The school board member comes to meetings unprepared.

The school board member “rubber stamps” all the superintendent’s proposals without asking hard questions.

The school board member micromanages rather than focusing attention on district-wide policies.

The school board member uses his position on the school board as an opportunity to put forth a political agenda with little relevance to student achievement.

Choosing School Board Members

by: Great Schools Staff

For incumbents:

What actions have you taken to improve student achievement?

For challengers and incumbents:

What are your visions for this school district five to 10 years from now and what systemic changes will you work toward to achieve that vision?

What policies would you initiate to improve student achievement?

What are the characteristics of a superintendent you most admire?

How would you measure success for a superintendent?

What level of skills should high school students have upon graduation?

You’ll also want to find out if the candidate has good analytical, leadership and collaborative skills to move the district forward. A good candidate does not have a single-issue focus but rather is interested in the success of all students in the district.

Once a Rebel...

By: Donna Joy

        It’s been 30 years since my first protest. I was a 21-year-old teacher in West Baltimore and had complained about teachers physically abusing children. At 22, I filed suit over a school board policy that discriminated against children with disabilities. Another time, I argued because special education teachers had less planning time than others. More recently, I have complained about asbestos in a local school, illegal grade changing and FERPA violations. No matter where I’ve found myself, through life’s twists and turns, I have been a teacher and activist for children and teacher’s rights. But, I have always felt alone in my efforts. The people I attempted to help were sometimes the ones who resisted the most. Staying true to my ideals, I kept standing up against injustice and for civil and human rights, even when faced with retaliation.

So, when I found myself involved in the recent statewide teacher’s strike, as a Jefferson County teacher and candidate for school board, I was in awe. It was amazing that I was not only still standing as a teacher, but I was still fighting. I had not been beaten into submission and even more important, I had an entire county and state standing in solidarity, beside me, for a common good. It had already been a magical moment when, with only three hours-notice, over 441 teachers and support staff flocked to Asbury United Methodist Church, late one evening and cast the votes for the work stoppage. But the adrenaline had only begun!

I have vivid memories of the cheers, chants, posters, honking horns and genuinely kind teachers, custodians, cafeteria workers and bus drivers who so graciously accepted my flyers and conversations. I went from location-to-location trying to introduce myself as a candidate for school board, but also joining in the rallies. One moment I was waving at a passing car and the next I was using the opportunity to share myself with a potential voter. Part of me felt like I was somehow cheating. It didn’t seem fair that I could take on either role to suit my needs. Most times, I felt amazed to be part of such an important historical event.

I will never forget the matter-of-fact generosity of Grant Prillaman, as if he had been there all along to help. I told him of my concern that a teacher benefit was at risk of being removed and he said, “Just let us know when you go to the board and we (WVEA) will support you.” I don’t know if it was the thrill of the moment for him, as we had been standing along roads, breathing exhaust fumes and filling up on donated coffee and donuts, in the cold for 9 days, but for me, it was deeply meaningful.

The most important thing that happened to me, during the strike, was that I gained a deeper understanding of others along the roadsides and on the Facebook pages. Everyone had an opinion and often I had to bite my tongue. I persisted in my attempts to connect with those who wanted teachers to protect their children with guns, who felt that cafeteria workers should have the same salary as teachers or who claimed that teachers were already overpaid. Though I don’t agree with all the views expressed, I appreciate how they evolved and have come to a place of wishing to find a way to bridge the divide. As a board member, I will use this deeper appreciation to help foster an inclusive environment where all views are respected equally.

Independents and Those Who Love Them

By: Donna Joy

        Jefferson County has a unique arrangement of registered voters: Democrats (~33%), Republicans (~33%) and Independents (~33%).

As a candidate for school board, I found myself exploring the voting records on the Jefferson County Clerk’s website. As a math teacher, it was easy to determine that less than 1% of Independents voted in the previous primary elections. That was shocking! 

         So, while meeting people at pancake breakfasts and pasta dinners, I brought up the conversation of Independents not voting. I discovered that most believe in Jefferson County that Independents can’t vote in the primary. Ironically, registered Independents have the most power during the primary election, as they can vote from any ballot.

         With so many heated races this year, it is crucial for registered Independent voters to show up at the polls on May 8. Not only can they have an impact on the general election, but this is their only chance to vote for non-partisan seats: Board of Ed, Circuit Judges and Conservation District Supervisor which are determined on May 8.

Here are the rules regarding registered independents:

      Independents will only receive the non-partisan portion of the ballot (Board of Ed, Circuit Judges and Conservation District Supervisor), unless they request a specific party ballot. Each party ballot does include the non-partisan offices.

Additionally, any 17-year-old can register and vote in the Primary as long as they will be 18 by the General Election, November 6, 2018.

Can you help get this crucial information out to the public? Thank you.

Donna Joy, PhD

Candidate for Jefferson County School Board

Spring Break 

By: Donna Joy 4/2/18


    Seeing Don Blankenship’s name listed as a candidate and face plastered on so many news articles has been a bit trying for me. Each day the feelings have grown stronger and so now, just like before, we are on spring break, my children are visiting their father and I have a little free time. This morning, I succumbed to the persistent tug at my heartstrings and decided to read the news of the Upper Big Branch mine disaster, again.

     The website lists that the disaster occurred on April 5, 2010- how timely. I remember that day and the overwhelming feeling that I wanted to do something to help. But what and how? I was 4.5 hours away, living in Middleway, WV. But, I was on spring break and my children would be with their father for a week, so I really had the time. So, why not? So, I did. I packed a bag and drove straight down to the scene, ready to do anything I could to help.

     Well, sometimes my heart is bigger than my head and I chastise myself for not being more logical. It was night by now. There were rows of headlights and cars filled with reporters, emergency responders and concerned onlookers. No one was allowed into the mine office location where I was told the family members were gathered. What on earth had I thought? I could just drive down there as a stranger and rush in to lend a hand? Disappointed, I continued my prayers and headed to a nearby friend’s house for the night.

     But the heart pain wouldn’t stop. I found myself doing the same thing again,the next morning, though the ride was now only 30 minutes away. Still, the cars lined the streets along, what I could now make out to be, a long, high fence that lined the perimeter of the mine property. There was a guard station at the entrance to review anyone trying to enter.

Again, I felt defeated and disappointed that my idealistic heart had gotten me so far from home. I decided to stop at the little church, I had passed, to see if maybe there was some way I could help. I was happy to find that it was being converted to a food station. There were large pots of hotdogs and chili and various soft drinks and chips available, just in case someone wanted to talk to the minister and get a meal. I explained why I had driven down from so far. It was clear that I wasn’t needed there either, as I was the only non-church member in the building. I wrote a check to help with food, should anyone show up. Just as I handed over the check, a woman rushed in and announced, “ We need volunteers to go down to the mine and help out. Can you give me some volunteers”? I thought, “Oh great, I am so close and now I will have to compete with these church members for a spot on the volunteer list”. But, I was wrong. No one was able to volunteer at disaster site. My hand shot up, “I am not a member of this church, but I can help.”

     The woman explained that I was to stay close behind her car. We would get to the guard shack, she would tell them that I was there to help and she would give me more information once we got inside.

     What a scene! The air was thick with grief. Twenty-nine miners were trapped and twenty-nine families were cramped into the mine office. Empty soda cans surrounded the lawn chairs where the mostly women sat in dismay. The volunteer coordinator claimed that the Red Cross would be coming sometime, but until then, I was in charge. I never saw that women again over the next five days.

     I found some garbage bags in the office kitchen and started cleaning up. I secured toilet paper and paper towels for the restrooms, made fresh coffee and went around to each person asking how I could help. Most just wanted to know the fate of their loved one. They wanted and needed nothing more those first few days.

     The donations poured in all day, every day. When I noticed larger items missing on the second day, I discovered that some families were taking excessive amounts home, while others were left with nothing. So, I organized 29 piles. I divided all the blankets, shirts, toothbrushes, bars of soap, cases of beans, etc. evenly into piles and labeled each stack with the last name of the miner.

     One of the office workers had set up a serving line to accommodate all the people and the abundance of donated foods. Restaurants from miles around sent food on a regular basis: chicken dinners from KFC, breakfast muffins from Mc Donald’s and Pizza from several sources. There was such an outpouring of love from the community.

     I started serving food from behind the long table and when Joe Manchin arrived, he was given the direction to serve food as well. That’s right, Mr. Manchin was taking his orders from a mysterious, cold-faced man who stood in the corner. I was surprised that the governor of West Virginia would act like an employee to this figure who didn’t blink, didn’t lift a finger to help and didn’t say a word to anyone else.

     Joe Manchin quickly jumped in beside me and the two of us dished out mashed potatoes, green beans and rolls until the grieving family members sat back down into their lawn chairs and back to the reality of the situation. There were 29 men trapped.

     Every 3 or 4 hours, I recall, the mine inspector would appear to escort Manchin and Mystery Man down to the scene at the mine for an update. This was the most intense period of all. The hopes would rise that Manchin would return with some good news- that one person was just pulled out alive, anything. But the letdown filled the anxious hearts each and every time.

     Halfway through the ordeal, several women started breaking down. I had worked as a mental health counselor in the past, so it was natural for me to sit with these women, listen to their stories of fear and hope and let them cry in my arms.

     Each evening I drove back to my friend’s house to shower and sleep. Each morning I drove back through the poverty stricken town, watching the coal trains roll by. I would return to again see stacks of empty soda cans surrounding lawn chairs where distraught women sat numb and lost. I was concerned that this coal company was doing nothing for these families. I was the janitor. I was the hostess. I was the counselor. And that man who had so much power to turn our state governor into a puppy dog -who was he? Why didn’t he do anything to help? How could he just stand there? By the time the ordeal ended, I knew who he was.

     Now, eight years later, Mystery man is a candidate for Senator. He is fighting the man he appears to have placed in office. He is fortunate to have been given a second chance. Not all prisoners get to see freedom. Victims are never free. I suspect that these families are receiving punishments every day that they turn on their televisions or open a paper and see this man’s face.

      So, while he is spreading his energy across the state, I hope the families will hold their heads high during this spring break and every day that follows. Remember the outpouring of love that was shared by strangers. Remember the happy times shared with your loved one. Stand proud that your heart filled with love is stronger than one man or one event and that you will always hold your loved one in your heart.

      Here are the names of their loved ones. These are the men we don’t forget. They will always have a special place in my heart.

-Carl Acord, 52.

- Jason Atkins, 25.

- Christopher Bell, 33.

- Gregory Steven Brock, 47.

- Kenneth Allan Chapman, 53.

- Robert Clark, 41.

- Charles Timothy Davis, 51.

- Cory Davis, 20.

- Michael Lee Elswick, 56.

- William I. Griffith, 54.

- Steven Harrah, 40.

- Edward Dean Jones, 50.

- Richard K. Lane, 45.

- William Lynch, 59.

-Nicholas Darrell McCroskey, 26.

- Joe Marcum, 57.

- Ronald Lee Maynor, 31.

- James E. Mooney, 50.

- Adam Keith Morgan, 21.

- Rex L. Mullins, 50.

- Joshua S. Napper, 25.

- Howard D. Payne, 53.

- Dillard Earl Persinger, 32.

- Joel R. Price, 55.

- Deward Scott, 58.

- Gary Quarles, 33.

- Grover Dale Skeens, 57.

- Benny Willingham, 61.

- Ricky Workman, 50.


Donna Joy