After a 29 year run as a school superintendent, Calhoun native Ron Blankenship is retiring.

The award-winning educator advised the Calhoun school board last night he will be leaving his post the last of June.

Always a fighter for rural education, he has led the system through some difficult, backward years to rising it to the top with 21st Century technology.

In his letter to the board, he said, "Thank you for the opportunities for professional and personal development the system has afforded me over the years. I have enjoyed working with the many fine educators and service employees in our school system and wish each of them the very best."

The national "School Administrator" magazine said Blankenship could have his pick of jobs most anywhere, but with dogged determination he has stayed in Calhoun county, determined his charges have a fighting chance.

After growing up on Hog Knob and determined to get an education, he reflects "My heart's here. I left once and came back. It's home. Always will be."

While receiving criticism for his highly-focused management style, Blankenship has opted to operate without an administrative assistant or a secretary for the past three years. He has never had an Assistant Superintendent.

In 2005 he received the highest honor given by his peers, the West Virginia Superintendent of the Year award.

Blankenship has been recognized for his dedication and service on many occasions, including the Glenville State College Board of Governor's Presidential Citation.

With professional experience as an elementary and secondary teacher and principal, Executive Director of RESA IV, and superintendent of both Gilmer and Calhoun County schools, Blankenship has provided a vital link between many organizations that support public education.

He has led the charge in Charleston to change the state school funding formula, which would benefit school systems, like Calhoun with declining enrollment.

"Blankenship scored one of the biggest coups of the 2005 legislative season in his quest for fiscal equity — though he admits his frequent forays to the capital (six times in one recent month) are among the least desirable aspects of his job," wrote "School Administration" magazine.

Blankenship helped members of the state senate craft the legislation that now provides additional funds for county school systems that drop below 1,400 students in order to cover basic services. The extra money has allowed him to hire a school nurse and add a foreign language instructor.

Blankenship has been a member in both the West Virginia Association of School Administrators and the American Association of School Administrators, in addition to serving on the Workforce Investment Board and his Chairmanship of the West Virginia One Step Committee.

In addition to endless dedication to education, Blankenship has also served for nearly 35 years in the U.S. Army Reserve. He holds the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and is the Commander of the 8th Quartermaster Battalion in Charleston, West Virginia.

He holds a bachelors degree in Education from Glenville State College and a masters in Educational Administration from West Virginia University.

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