Brooke Wall of Fame honors former school employees

NEW TO WALL OF FAME — Six former Brooke County school employees were inducted to the Brooke County Board of Education’s Wall of Fame Monday. On hand for the occasion were, front, from left, inductees Helen Furioli and Holly Yarter, Sharlee DeMario, who accepted for her late father, Charles McBride; inductees Linda Abercrombie and Lucille Best; Susan Fodor, who nominated Best; Paula Campbell, who accepted for her mother-in-law, Virginia Campbell; and Ruth Lewis, who nominated Campbell; and back, Tim Jacobs, McBride’s grandson; Scott Abercrombie, Abercrombie’s son; and Paul Campbell, Campbell’s grandson. -- Warren Scott

WELLSBURG — Since 2002 the Brooke County Board of Education has recognized former educators and school service personnel whose efforts have motivated students and others, years later, to nominate them for the board’s Wall of Fame.

Betty Lou Harris, who chairs the volunteer wall of fame committee, noted the memory of these personnel, “who went above and beyond their normal jobs” is preserved with their inclusion on two plaques at the board’s office.

Inducted this year were: Linda Abercrombie, a teacher at Hammond, Hooverson Heights and Jefferson primary schools and Brooke High School’s pre-school program; the late Lucille Best, a cook at Bethany Primary School for 25 years; Virginia Campbell, who taught at schools in Windsor Heights, Beech Bottom and Wellsburg over 42 years; Helen Furioli, a fifth grade teacher at Wellsburg Middle School for 38 years; the late Charles McBride, who headed Edgewood and Jefferson primary schools during his 40 year career; and Holly Yarter, a teacher at Edgewood and Colliers primary schools during her 39 year career.

Abercrombie’s son, Scott, noted his mother spent much of her 31 year career teaching pre-schoolers and kindergarteners and provided input to state officials developing the statewide pre-kindergarten program.

Superintendent Toni Shute said Abercrombie never wavered when asked to help with any program at the high school and that includes the clothes closet and food pantry she established, with others, during her retirement.

Susan Foder said while her good friend, Best, served as cook at the former McKinleyville Grade School, she planned and served a variety of nutritious meals, cheerfully tailoring them for pupils with special needs, such as diabetes and allergies, when needed.

Retired teacher Billie Jo Falcon noted her habit of baking cookies for pupils and staff.

“She believed a school was a family and made everyone there part of that family,”Falcon said.

Ruth Lewis, who observed Campbell as an education professor from West Liberty University, said she maintained an orderly classroom while never raising her voice and was known to bring to the principal’s office a pupil, especially one known for being difficult, to point out something positive he or she had done.

Retired teacher Carol Churchman, for whom Campbell was a mentor, said, “She had a lot of tricks up her sleeve and was kind enough to teach me those.”

Churchman said she was inspired by Furioli’s ability to work with children labeled by some as difficult. Her daughter, Sara, recalled being called by her mother to bring lunches for children who arrived at school without them and having pupils visit their home for dinner.

Shute noted Furioli’s involvement with Special Olympics through her husband, Bill, director of the local program.

Through Wellsburg Middle School’s Special Olympic Support club, Furioli not only raised money for the program through the collection of pop tabs and other efforts but also helped to promote acceptance of Special Olympians by the school’s pupils.

Retired teacher Jo Ann Stoetzer said as a principal, McBride was a stickler for order and would greet a tardy teacher at the door saying nothing but pointing to his watch. She noted that sense of order was an asset when he headed Jefferson Primary School at a time when it was the county’s largest primary school.

Sharlee DeMario noted her father helped Philip Darmelio, Robert Guio and other veteran Brooke County principals early in their careers.

Yarter’s daughter-in-law and colleague at Colliers Primary School, Jessica Yarter, said she was a good role model to her and others, displaying an understanding of children’s social and emotional needs as well as their academic requirements.

She and former colleague, Karen Pannett, said Yarter also was a valued sounding board, offering suggestions for teaching strategies and a supportive ear on difficult days.

Board President Brian Ferguson congratulated the honorees, saying, “Brooke County is blessed to have had all of the talent and dedication of these people.”

(Scott can be contacted at