The first order of the most recent monthly School Board meeting was to recognize and honor the Craig County members. Superintendent Jeanette Warwick proudly announced that both National School Board Appreciation Month and School Board Clerk Appreciation month occurred at the same time.
“I have a certificate of recognition from the Virginia School Board Association that says, ‘In appreciation of your dedication and service to excellence in education on behalf of the students of the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Warwick shared as she handed one to each board member.
Current members of Craig County Public School System include: Jeanette Warwick, CCPS Superintendent; Susan Crenshaw, Vice Chairman – Craigs Creek; Aaron Calfee, Potts Creek; Pat Myers, Chairman and Representative for Craig City; Gina Smith, Simmonsville; and Diana Bayne, Deputy Clerk of the School Board; George Foster of New Castle and Administrative Assistant Sonja Switzer.
At the meeting, Principal Geri VanDyke of McCleary Elementary held up a creative sign made by her students. She said that a beautiful smorgasbord of sweets and vegetables were provided as a special thank you.
Many high school students painted jars golden and planted beautiful houseplants to show their appreciation. One card read, “Thanks for helping our students grow.” Carrie Maness, an Art Teacher, designed a beautiful blue and white neck lanyard for each member.
High School Principal Gennifer Miller said: “Thank you for your time and dedication to ensuring the best possible school experience for the students at Craig County Public Schools. Your time and efforts are so greatly appreciated!”
Each board member comes from a different background. Although they all wear many hats, they put on a collective hat when it comes to leading their school divisions.
Pat Myers has been a school board member for 16 years, including serving as Chairman for 12 and Vice Chair for two. Retired from AEP, he is a member of the Craig Rescue (EVOC), the Masonic Lodge and a life member of the Rocket Booster club
“Making a difference involves lobbing with local, state and federal legislators,” he said. “My vision for the Board is to bring more updated technology, to access more funds for monetary raises for teachers, to update things that need repairing to buildings and most of all, make sure the children receive the best education we can offer.”
Gina Smith is the newest Board member, joining in January 2018. She is a full-time employee at Lewis Gale Medical Center, practicing as a registered nurse for almost 15 years. She was born in Craig County and graduated in 1999 from the high school. “I love this small community and want our kids to get a great education,” she said. “I chose to become a member of the CCSB to help make the best decisions for our kids in the community.”
Gina has two children enrolled in CCPS, Kaylee Pauley, a junior, and first-grader Emily Smith.
Her goal is to get to know every teacher and listen to all their concerns while having an open line of communication. “I am excited and hope to help make decisions creating a great place to work for our teachers and for our kids to learn,” she said.
Aaron Calfee is serving for two years and wishes to help make an impact on his community. He shared that he has seen just how much hard work goes into the education of the children. “I wish to work towards the goal of having more of the community’s time, and resources poured into the children,” he said. “Sometimes what we would like to do and what we can do simply don’t line up due to limited resources. Still, the best interest of the children is always our top priority.”
Since 2017, George Foster has served on the board. This is his first elected term. Approximately four years ago, he drove a school bus for a year.
Foster has three kids currently in school, with two more set to enter in the future. “I want to see the school prosper as I serve with five members who really care about our youth,” he said. “We have a great staff and a beautiful county here.”
Foster’s ultimate vision is to see the buses updated, teachers get a raise, the agriculture program grow and the special needs programs to continue to be a priority.
Though Susan Crenshaw only intended to serve one term, she is now two-years into a four-year term. The Vice-chair also serves as the Craig County representative on the Roanoke Valley Regional Board for special education.
“As a professional educator, I wanted to see how the school governance worked from the ‘other side of the table,’” she said. “I also wanted to see if it was possible for our system to be more transparent in decision making.”
Crenshaw further emphasized: “Funding is always an issue in our small, cash-strapped community. In spite of this, we have dedicated individuals striving to do what is best for kids, often at their own expense to supplement this budget shortfall. There are several quality teachers who live in our county but who choose to work elsewhere.”
Originally, Crenshaw majored in Psychology and her first full-time job was working in a group home with children and adults with intellectual disabilities. It was also her first experience working with individuals diagnosed with autism. “This helped me recognize the symptoms in Kyle, my youngest son, when he was only two,” she said. “Though he has a significant disability, he was also well prepared upon leaving school to enter the job market through effective transition services.”
After being asked by the Superintendent if she would consider the position, Diana Bayne accepted, serving as Deputy Clerk for the last five years. She has worked as the Benefits Coordinator at the School Board Office since May 2015, but was originally hired as the CCHS Activity Funds Book Keeper.
“I enjoy working with the board members and working to make our schools better,” Bayne said. “I feel our schools are changing for the better as we now offer online classes which seem to be what many colleges are now going to.”
Bayne has been married to her husband Jack for 25 years and together they have two children, Michael Beaudoin, who has a wife named Melissa, and Lauren Bayne whom they are currently planning a June wedding for. “We also have four wonderful grandsons: Malachi, Judah, Deacon and Abel,” she said. “I love spending time with my grandsons, family, sunny days, beaches and shopping.”
The State Board mentioned, “Virginians should recognize the vital contributions of these men and women and focus attention on the crucial role these elected public officials play in the education of our children. Their job is to establish a vision for the education program, design a structure to achieve that vision, ensure schools are accountable to the community and strongly advocate continuous improvement in student learning.”
Warwick’s email signature, containing 17 words from a popular Dr. Seuss book, sums it up best: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot…Nothing is going to get better…It’s not.”