STEM at Harless Center

Staff Report

GILBERT, W. Va. – The Mingo County Board of Education held its August meeting at the Larry Joe Harless Center in Gilbert, W. Va., to celebrate the opening of the new STEM Pre-K Facility at the Center. The Center will be servicing 15 students and will have a focus on not only traditional classroom learning but on outdoor learning as well.

Tara Beth Brumfield, the Director of the STEM Center for the June Harless Foundation for rural Education at Marshall University, along with her staff, gave a presentation on the new Pre-K center. After the meeting, the BOE and the public toured the newly completed center.

“This is one of only three facilities in the state of its kind and the first outside of Cabell County,” Brumfield told the BOE. “Also, it is the first facility of this kind in a non-school facility, which makes it very special for Mingo County.”

“Research shows that young children learn as much outside of the classroom as well as in it and that required quite a bit of work to establish an outside learning environment for the children as well as the indoor space.” Brumfield said “Fortunately, the Larry Joe Harless Center had several outdoor landscaped areas that they allowed us to transform into the needed outdoor learning environment.”

Mingo BOE President David Farley told the audience it was a great honor for the school system to be involved with this new facility. “Being one of only three programs in the state speaks well for Mingo County and the opportunities that we are being able to offer our students.” BOE members June Glover and Jackie Branch were elated over the potential the new center offers to the area.

“The fact that ours is a rural area and that traditionally rural areas have a lot of children who are less fortunate than others makes the fact that we have this facility with the opportunities offered even more important. This is a very good thing for Mingo County,” Glover stated.

Branch said that her passion was in the area of early childhood development so she was particularly delighted with the facilities and its approach to learning. “Being very aware of all the research on early childhood learning, I’m very pleased to see the emphasis on outdoor learning and the other new techniques this facility will offer,” she said.

The facility was created via a partnership between Mingo County Schools, Coalfield Community Action Partnership, the June Harless Foundation, the Benedum Foundation, Marshall University, the Larry Joe Harless Center and other private foundations.
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