Former West Virginia Governor Gaston Caperton receives KIDS COUN - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

Former West Virginia Governor Gaston Caperton receives KIDS COUNT award

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On May 7, former West Virginia governor Gaston Caperton received the KIDS COUNT’s “Making West Virginia a Great Place to be a Kid” award.

During the award ceremony and luncheon at the Clay Center, Caperton attributed his successes to his parents, sister and second grade teacher, who realized that in second grade he couldn’t read.

“I had a teacher named Ms. Robinson that called my parents and said … ‘Did you know your son can’t read?”’ Caperton said. “I’m fortunate enough that I had a teacher who recognized that and got me (help).”

Without the help and support that followed, Caperton said he wouldn’t have led a successful life.

“If you can’t read you don’t have much of a chance in life to get a good job,” he said.

Because of Caperton’s own educational experience and through trying “to do a few things” his straight-A sister did, a desire to provide the best opportunities for children was born. According to Margie Hale, executive director of KIDS COUNT, Caperton’s 1989 Task Force on Children, Youth and Families laid the groundwork for KIDS COUNT’s formation as a nonprofit organization in 1990.

Caperton served as governor of the Mountain State from 1989-1997. Caperton said there are three things to remember moving forward following progress in educational and technological initiatives.

“First of all, you have to recognize there is a problem. That was step one,” he said. “Step two was getting (opportunities) in the school system and recognizing how important it is. Step three will be when we can give the services we’d like to as many kids who really need it and train teachers to be able to work with those students.

"There’s not enough teachers trained to do this kind of work or enough of the resources they need.”

When it comes to receiving the award, Caperton says it’s not really him receiving it.

“I see it as an opportunity to thank people … it’s not about me,” he said. “Thanking the people who come here who are contributors and supporters.”

After leaving office in 1997, Caperton spent two years teaching at Harvard and Columbia Universities before becoming the eighth president of the College Board in 1999. Although he retired from the College Board in 2012, Caperton currently sits on the Board of Directors for three major U.S. corporations.