History of Back Creek Valley Elementary

  • Back Creek Valley Elementary School was formed by consolidating the one-room schools of Ganotown, Glengary, and Shanghai.  The consolidation was the result of decreased student population at each of these schools.

    A new school was built in Ganotown in 1929.  Mr. O.E. Puffenburger agreed to build the school at the pay rate of $.45 (yes, forty-five cents) per hour with the Board of Education supplying the materials.  In 1953, this building was taken by truck to the present site of our school.  It remains as part of the front section of the school with the windows still in the original frames                                                              

    The school had a potbelly stove for heating, plastered walls, wood floors, incandescent lighting, and natural ventilation.  Water was supplied from nearby homes.  Students brought lunch from home as there was no cafeteria.                  

    The first principal of the school was Mrs. Bessie Dehaven. She began her teaching career in 1923 and was appointed principal at Back Creek Valley in 1954.  She taught grades three, four, and five and served as principal until her retirement in 1971.  Miss Bessie, as she was affectionately known, is thought to have been the first woman school bus driver in the state of West Virginia.  She drove the Glengary school bus, which was a World War II surplus four-seated van.

    Mr. William Hull was appointed principal in 1971.  At that time, Back Creek Valley Elementary had two teachers, two classrooms with three grades in each room, and the hallway was the office area with the telephone mounted on the wall.  Mr. Hull was a teaching principal with the responsibility of teaching grades four, five, and six.  In 1979, he became a part-time principal with teaching duties in the morning and administrative duties in the afternoon.  A part-time teacher taught his afternoon classes.  This change was a direct result of the persistence of the Back Creek Valley PTA.

    In 1968, a classroom and a basement were added to the school.  With the addition of another classroom in 1975, kindergarten began at Back Creek Valley.  Additional classrooms were added in 1984 and, as the valley continued to grow, several portable classrooms arrived on school grounds.  In 1989 a new kitchen, cafeteria and multipurpose room were added. 

    Mr. Hull retired in 2002 after 31 years as principal of Back Creek Valley.  He and his wife Patricia, who also taught at Back Creek Valley, were integral in providing expanded educational opportunities for the area's children.

    Ms. Cynthia Barber was appointed principal in 2002.  The latest addition to the school occurred in 2004-2005.  Monies from the 2001 Bond Call provided the funds for construction of new offices, two new classrooms, and two bathrooms.  As the valley continues to grow and we welcome new faces into the Back Creek Valley family, we anticipate further expansion of the educational programs at our school.  Back Creek Valley Elementary is one of Berkeley County's best-kept secrets.


Ganotown School
school being moved by truck
school building with bus
Miss Bessie