Opinion: A note of gratitude and a pledge to the children of Sumter County


Thank you, Dr. Baker and Dr. Martin-Knox.

First, allow me to welcome and extend congratulations to our newly elected board member, Dr. Gloria Rose Lee, Area 6, and our reappointed members, the Rev. Daryl McGhaney, Area 5, and yours truly, Dr. Barbara Jackson, Area 7. I would also like to acknowledge our returning board members, Mr. Brian Alston, Area 1; Mrs. Sherril Ray, Area 2; Mr. Matthew McLeod, Area 3; Dr. Johnny Hilton, Area 4; Dr. J. Frank Baker, at-large seat 8; and Mr. Shawn Ragin, at-large seat 9; as well as Mrs. Robin Mills, USAF Shaw Air Force Base representative; our illustrious superintendent, Dr. Penelope Martin-Knox; and Mrs. Amy Hansen, administrative manager to the board and superintendent.

In absentia, I would like to thank our former chairman, the Rev. Dr. Ralph W. Canty Sr., for his leadership and support over the past two years and his many years of service to the Sumter School District Board of Trustees. May you enjoy your retirement, and you will certainly be missed. Again, thank you the Rev. Dr. Ralph Canty.

I am humbled and honored by my election and graciously accept the chairmanship with dignity, respect and excitement. I sincerely thank you, my fellow board members, for entrusting me with the responsibility to lead and facilitate the wishes of the board. I promise to make it evident that I deserve your trust and support, and I do not take your vote of confidence lightly. This is a significant event in my life, an event that I will cherish forever. Whenever we meet, it is understood that nothing is accomplished through sole members but through the collection of representatives of the community that comprise the board. We will work to make sure the needs and desires of the public are brought to life through successfully carrying out our responsibilities.

I believe that education should be led by those who are continuous learners; I believe that education should be differentiated; I believe that education should be fun; and I believe that education should be collaborative, all of which is garnished with love for children, a strong commitment to serving others and making sound educational decisions in the best interest of all citizens of Sumter School District.

You know, the coronavirus pandemic has placed most of us out of our comfort zone. While some are in school and others are doing virtual learning out of school, I feel that now is the time that we MUST seriously rethink quality free education because our children deserve it. We must be willing to consider new options, options that afford flexible scheduling and environment, self-discipline and responsibility and creativity. Virtual education may not be for all students, but it is a valuable (viable) option … an option that we discovered because of the coronavirus. We must seriously study its impact so that it may become a part of our solution and infrastructure for the future.

Our challenges are great, but success is attainable when we collectively pledge our support to the professionals of the district, the students, the parents, business and industry and all who reside in the district. With the support of my fellow board members, we can build a sustainable bridge of achievement and success as well as foster a strong, sound future for all stakeholders of Sumter School District because we are #SumterStrong! Thank you, thank you, thank you!