12/06/11 — Radford takes over as new school board chairman

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Radford takes over as new school board chairman

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 6, 2011 1:46 PM

Veteran educator Eddie Radford took over the reins as school board chairman Monday night, with John P. Grantham named vice chairman.

Radford commended outgoing chairwoman Thelma Smith for her service to the board, both this past year as its leader and throughout her tenure.

Mrs. Smith likewise thanked the board for its support, particularly during a time when her health suffered and Radford stepped in to handle some of the board duties.

"There are times when we have not agreed on everything and we're not supposed to. I think you're one of the best boards we have ever had and we continue to work together in unity," she said. "Wayne County Public Schools has to soar. We're already flying high, but we soar."

Radford briefly shared his vision and some of his hopes for the year ahead.

"This is very special," he said. "I started out as a teacher at Southern Wayne, a biology teacher, and to be sitting up here tonight is an honor to me."

He said he has always believed in public education and as a former classroom teacher, has an appreciation for what they do.

"I think our teachers do a great job," he said. "I support our teachers."

Radford said he believes in "strong discipline" and that it is needed in the schools.

Likewise, he would like to see advancements made on the district's construction plan.

"I hope that our facilities plan goes along as it should," he said. "We're still trying to get the schools up to date and maybe build a couple (in the future)."

His only "negative" comment, he said, related to standardized testing, which, as a former principal himself, he does not favor. The sentiment might be unpopular with some, he said, but he suggested if parents and students were to work as hard as educators do, test scores just might improve.

He also pledged to be available to the public in his role as board chairman.

Grantham also weighed in with a couple of things he would like to see, including a more vocal community.

"People standing up and speaking out," he said. "We have teachers and parents come to board members and tell us they don't like the way we do things, but they don't want their name mentioned. It's never going to get anywhere like that. You can't make any changes like that."

Grantham encouraged residents, whether a parent or a teacher, to stand up for what they believe in and attempt to make a difference in the school system.

He also said he sees a need to make the public aware of what the General Assembly is doing that's "detrimental to education" and to start "challenging these statutes."

"We shouldn't just blindly accept it," he said.