“Spend three weeks on a college campus the summer before my senior year? Meet some of the greatest kids in West Virginia? Work with master teachers in my fields of greatest interest? And it’s free? Come on - you have to be kidding.”
Actually, the Governor’s Honors Academy (GHA) offers all of those things to 200 of the top-achieving students in West Virginia, and this year, GHA is being held on the exciting campus of Fairmont State University.
Designed to stimulate and support excellence in education through a multi-week summer program, the West Virginia Governor’s Honors Academy was started in 1984 by Governor John D. Rockefeller IV. The mission of the academy is to operate an academically rich environment designed to honor high ability/high achieving students in an institution of higher education, challenging students to grow intellectually, creatively, and socially in a culturally diverse atmosphere.
GHA 2017 at WVU
During their stay, GHA students are privy to all services and amenities offered to students at West Virginia University. They will live in Honors Hall, an excellent facility that promotes both learning opportunities and socialization.
Each county selects one male and one female student to attend, and another 90 students are selected from a statewide pool of applicants. In addition, through a financial agreement with the West Virginia Department of Education, 15 of these spots are reserved for vocational/technology secondary students. Students at GHA select one intensive course in their academic field of interest and two broad-based courses outside their interest area. Cultural, educational, and recreational activities fill the students’ evenings on and off campus. Students may also attend a college fair and take part in community service efforts and club-like groups based on recreational interests, such as frisbee, dancing, horseback riding, etc.
Courses offered in arts and humanities, social sciences, natural and physical sciences, and mathematics are taught by high school and college faculty. Faculty not residing near the host location are provided room and board at the Academy site. Each of the 15 faculty members is responsible for one intensive course and one broad-based course. Faculty members are chosen based on their creativity, expertise, rapport with students, the quality of their course proposals, and their ability to relate course materials to other fields. Faculty members are also expected to provide leadership outside the classroom at other GHA events, trips, and functions.
Oversight of GHA comes from Mrs. Sherry Keffer, Director of Governor’s Schools, who is responsible to the Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts. On-site supervision is under the auspices of Dr. Ryan Claycomb, dean of the academy. Assisting in this role in addition to teaching the offered courses are the faculty members. One intern provides office support, and the residential director is responsible for the coordination and training of 16 undergraduate resident assistants who also assist with supervision and discipline.