05/16/10 — School board member resigns her post

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School board member resigns her post

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 16, 2010 1:50 AM

After more than 50 years being an education advocate -- 18 of those on the Wayne County Board of Education -- Shirley Sims will leave the board effective June 30.

The District 2 representative, whose constituents include residents in the southern end of the county, officially submitted her resignation to the board chairman, Rick Pridgen, on Friday afternoon.

Earlier this month, Mrs. Sims indicated the possibility of her departure, after having put her house on the market. She said the house sold more quickly than she anticipated.

She had been looking toward moving to a retirement community near Garner, she said, but had planned to ride out her board responsibilities at least through the current school year.

Ms. Sims, who became the first minority female Board of Education chairman in 2006, was first elected to the board in 1992. Her current term runs through 2012.

In accordance with the district's merger agreement, a replacement will be appointed by the county Board of Commissioners to serve out the remainder of Ms. Sims' term.

"We feel confident the board of commissioners will give this process serious consideration to appoint a qualified replacement who will work with board members and the district leadership, as Ms. Sims did over the past 18 years, to ensure a quality education is top priority for all of our students," said Dr. Steve Taylor, schools superintendent.

Taylor said he was saddened to see Ms. Sims leaving her role on the board, but respected her decision.

"Ms. Sims is a dedicated and involved board member who has devoted her entire life to the field of education," he said. "Ms. Sims has always put children first and has advocated for and impacted the lives of thousands of students for 50-plus years. Her expertise and breadth of knowledge has been needed and utilized in her tenure on the Board of Education. She will be sorely missed.

"As superintendent, I have enjoyed our professional association and the advice she has given me on tough issues. I wish for Ms. Sims continued good health and a happy retirement for the future."

Pridgen expressed similar sentiments, crediting Ms. Sims with serving the district and the county well while on the school board.

"She has been an advocate for both students and staff during her tenure, not only in Wayne County but throughout the state," he said. "It has been a pleasure serving on the Wayne County Board of Education with Ms. Sims and I know I can speak for my fellow board members in saying that she will be greatly missed. I hope our friendship can continue for many, many years."

Ms. Sims' career as a teacher began at Dudley Elementary School, now Brogden Primary, followed by a stint as assistant principal at Rosewood School, which was then a K-12 school. She spent 14 years as a classroom teacher and 16 years in administration, including serving as director of Title I programs and special programs. She retired from the district in 1986.

Following retirement, she worked as a part-time instructor, educational specialist and coordinator of a literacy program for the homeless at Wayne Community College.

The Mount Olive native graduated from Carver High School and pursued her own education at Livingstone College and Winston-Salem State University, before earning a master's degree in elementary education from North Carolina A&T State University.

She received the prestigious Raleigh Dingman Award from the N.C. School Board Association in 2002. Other accomplishments include All-State School Board Award in 1999, Woman of the Year for Southern Wayne County in 1997 and the Winston-Salem State University Alumni Meritorious Award in 1994. In 2008, she was inducted into the Winston-Salem State University National Alumni Hall of Distinction.

Ms. Sims has been active on numerous boards and committees, both locally and across the state. Her current affiliations include the Neuse Correctional Community Council, United Way, Wayne Action Teams for Community Health, or WATCH, Wayne Initiative for School Health, or WISH, and Wayne Uplift Resource Association.

A member of the Winston-Salem State University National Alumni Association, she created a scholarship to the university for a Wayne County graduate pursuing a degree in education. She is also a member of Carver Alumni & Friends Association and has been a volunteer at Wayne Memorial Hospital for the past 22 years.