After serving as a school board member for 12 years, Telfair Simpson is saying goodbye and starting a path toward helping others around the world.
Simpson’s term on the Sampson County Schools Board of Education is up in June and he made a decision to not run for the upcoming election.
“I have enjoyed my service, but I feel it’s time to move on and let others have an opportunity to serve,” he said.
He ran for the board in 2006 and was selected by his colleagues to serve as chair and vice chair for several years. Simpson said he believes in service and joined the county recreation board when the organization was formed.
“There was a lot of support in my community which helped me make up my mind to run,” he said. “There was no agenda on my part other than wanting to improve education, if possible.”
Simpson was born in Sampson County and spent most of his years in the Roseboro area. He graduated from Lakewood High School in 1982 and worked in the real estate appraiser for many decades. He’s married to Rosemary and they have two sons, Wilson and Coleman.
He added that educators are on both sides of his family. Some of those positions include teachers, high school principals and a superintendent.
“I’m married to a teacher,” Simpson said. “So I thought I knew something about education.”
But after being elected, he expressed how he knew very little about education.
“A school system is a unique and complicated entity,” Simpson said. “I was fortunate to have very good mentors on the board that helped me through the learning process.”
The listed mentors included Mary Brown, Glenn Tart, GH Wilson, Roosevelt Wright and the late Nathan Gay.
“I have been fortunate to serve with outstanding board members, past and present,” he said. “The first thing I learned was that the board does not run the day to day operations of the school system. I was very glad since I already had a career.”
There’s been a lot of changes during his years on the board, especially at the leadership position. During his tenor, he worked with three superintendents and two interims.
“All were superb leaders with great vision,” Simpson said.
Simpson applauded the work of Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy and the district’s accomplishments such as improving test scores and ranking 18th in the state. He believes it’s an indication of how well the teachers are doing in the classroom.
“I believe our staff, administrators and central office are second to none,” Simpson said. “I encourage the citizens of Sampson County to let our employees know how much you appreciate them and the job they do.”
Some of the other accomplishments mentioned by Simpson include reaccreditation with AdvanceEd, a nonprofit governmental organization that accredits primary and secondary schools; strong finance and maintenance departments; construction of new schools and additional facilities on campuses.
“Our goal now is to get the track built at Hobbton High and make our schools the safest they can be,” he said. “I will miss the interaction with board members and staff as we discuss issues impacting our system.”
In addition to leaving the board, Simpson said he’s retiring from coaching football in the Lakewood district.
“A number of people have asked what will I do with all that extra time,” Simpson said. “Well, Coach James Lewis and I are going fishing. We may take Bob Lewis also.”
He plan to continues service, but in a different way through mission work, locally and overseas.
“There is a great void in this world and people need help,” he said. “Service to others through churches, coaching, civic groups, mentoring or government can be very impactful and rewarding. I want to thank the citizens for allowing me to serve on the Sampson County Board of Education.”
Bracy said Simpson not seeking reelection is a huge loss to the board of education. He served as chairman when Bracy was hired four years ago.
“I will always cherish the many conversations that he and I had in his office,” Bracy said. “He has devoted his time, wisdom, and soul to this district. He always made tough decisions based solely on what was best for children, not on politics or what was popular. His leadership and vision will be his lasting legacy for generations of Sampson County students in the future.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.