After hearing good news about the achievements in Sampson County Schools, Board Chair Tim Register held a plaque and said he had some “bad news” to share.
“The bad news is that we have three board members who are retiring from the school board now,” Register said Monday lightheartedly about Mary Brown, Telfair Simpson and Dewain Sinclair. “We had dinner earlier and congratulations was going all around and I really don’t know what the congratulations was all about.”
Following a few laughs from the audience, he continued and said it was an honor to recognize his colleagues, who have about 50 years of combined experience. Register have known them for many years, but got a chance to appreciate them more while serving on the board. While presenting plaques with gavels attached, he shared personal stories going back decades.
“As all of you know and can understand, it is difficult at times to be able to work together for the best interests of the students,” he said. “Everybody got their own ideas and everybody got their own feelings. It takes people who genuinely care about the children to be able sometimes set aside your own personal feelings and work together for what’s best. I can truly say that I feel like this board has done that over the last two years and I really appreciate that.
“You three individuals who are going off have been a large part of that,” Register said. “I say to all three of you as a group, how much I appreciate you and it’s been a pleasure working with you and I feel that our other board members would say the same.”
Sinclair joined the board in 2010. He served on the advisory board in the Hobbton District and coached sports. Sinclair was also active in parent-teacher organizations. He made remarks about the school system and while referencing a car commercial he said “our people give us the edge” and said the school system is in good hands.
“I would like to say it’s been an honor and a privilege to work with board and all the former board members that I worked with,” Sinclair said. “It’s been a learning experience and a eye-opening experience, but it’s an experience I would trade anything in the world for. I appreciate the hard work of (Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy), Central Office staff, teachers, principals and everyone involved with the Sampson County School system.”
Sinclair also thanked his family for their support during his eight years on the board.
Simpson served on the board for 12 years after being elected in 2006.
“I appreciate the opportunity to serve Sampson County,” Simpson said. “That’s what means the most to me,” he said. “We live in a great county and we have a great school system that you can be proud of.”
In addition to his time on the board, he spent many years coaching football in the Lakewood District. Simpson appreciated the recognition and said he didn’t have an agenda when he started. People in the community showed support for his decision. He spoke with former Superintendent Stewart Hobbs about the duties and time constraints. After being told about having to attend 12 meetings and 12 work sessions, Simpson said it was a little more than that.
“I have enjoyed twelve years and I served with many different board members,” Simpson said. “We built new schools and we saw a lot of changes go on in education and there’s a lot of changes going on in education now. It’s not easy. I appreciate the new board members stepping up. I appreciate the board members who are going to be left here. You’re doing an outstanding job and you can’t ask for a better group of people than the ones here and the other ones that are coming on.”
Brown joined the board in 1989 and spent many years working in the nursing field. She became part of a steering committee for the district and served as a PTA president. Some of her other work in the community include volunteering in Garland and other educational efforts. Register applauded her 29 years of continuous service to Sampson Schools and making decisions in the best interest of the students. At one one time, Brown said she was questioned about wanting to have a “thankless job” of serving as a board member. He answer was that she enjoyed helping people.
“From then on, it was a beginning of a journey that I’m so pleased to have taken,” she said. “It’s a beautiful thing to wake up in the mornings and know that you got God to thank for all your blessings. It’s a lovely thing to wake up in the morning and be able to do reflections and flashbacks on all the hugs, the love, the thank yous and I do have a bundle of thank you notes at home.”
She also spoke about learning curves such as handling finances and making other important decisions such as closing school on bad weather days. With a vast landmass in Sampson County, some of decisions regarding decisions to cancel school was not always popular.
“You get those kinds of things, but I do want to say that having a belief in lifelong learning, it was a learning effort,” Brown said. “I enjoyed every moment and I’ve enjoyed working with each of the superintendents.”
After making decision not to run for another term, tenures for the three board members will end in June and new members will be sworn in during a July ceremony. In May, voters re-elected Vice Chair Kim Schmidlin and newcomers Daryll Warren and Robert Burley Jr. Sonya Powell also received enough votes for a seat on the board. She previously served on the board and was vice chair during her tenure.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.