Response: Bryant will be missed, she was always asking the right questions and challenging the system to do what she felt was in the best interest of the children.
BRYANT RELFECTS ON SERVICE/PUBLIC SCHOOLS
The past five years have been both challenging and interesting ones to say the least. All in all, however, I must say that it has truly been an honor to serve as the representative for District 2 on the Edgecombe County Board of Education.
Although I could never be accused of having a great love for children, I do have a great love and passion for ensuring that they are well-educated. This passion stems from the fact that I am a perfect example of the power of education in transforming lives. It is my heartfelt desire that every child in Edgecombe County be armed with a quality education when they graduate from high school no matter what career or educational path they choose thereafter.
Although I began writing this piece thinking I would do so from the perspective of a soon to be “former” board member, I ultimately concluded that writing the piece from the perspective of a parent might be enlightening and encouraging for the general public which has stood steadfast by our public school system in one role or another over the years.
One of the greatest responsibilities that I have as a parent is to ensure that my child receives a quality education. We started her educational career in private Christian school in Greensboro and continued that path when we first moved to Tarboro with her attending private Christian school in Rocky Mount. After I joined the school board in July of 2007, she enrolled at Stocks and spent a total of four years out of the five that I have served on the board in our public school system.
As many of you know, we chose to go back to private Christian school last year and I am so glad that we did because it taught me a lot. It taught me that my child knew and had been taught even more in our public school system than I would have ever thought. How did I find that out? Well, she competed and excelled in an environment where I could not have handpicked a more rigorous curriculum with children who had been in what I thought to be an idealistic environment since kindergarten. Another parent might attribute it exclusively to natural giftedness of the child or their own efforts but I am not so delusional. She competed and excelled because she had been taught and she had been taught well by those who toll in their respective roles in the Edgecombe County Public Schools. We are very blessed that for this school year she has been taught by some outstanding teachers in our public school system whose skills rival any of those that she has had before in private schools.
Accordingly, it is in this public forum that I take the opportunity to thank all of the teachers, administrators, classified and unclassified staff members in general with the Edgecombe County Public School System who have touched the life of my child and contributed to her growth as a student and citizen and who have done the same thing for so many other children.
The state of public education in North Carolina and our nation as a whole is a topic that we could debate on many pages of this newspaper. Yes, I am concerned daily about negative influences, behavior and all of the social ills that you hear about in the public schools. Of equal concern, however, is the prospect of my child leaving home and going off to college unprepared for many of the lessons that are learned in public school. Although I would hope that she would choose a respectable university such as NC State or Duke, there is another university that she has strong ties to and she could go there for goodness sake.
If I could erase all of the teachable moments that made me cringe when I have talked to her about them in her four years of being educated in our public school system, would I? Should I? The answer is no. I would not because I am preparing her for life. It is the truth that the decision to take a year off from public school was due in part to the issues previously mentioned but when I look at her peer group this year – how well they maintained – how much they obviously learned last year – I think to myself “did I do her a bigger favor or myself a bigger favor” by making the change.
Much is said about the role of the parent and parent activism in schools and in this context we often speak negatively about what we deem to be dysfunctional families and young parents’ involvement or lack thereof but the truth of the matter is that the activism of the parents who are married, who are educated, etc. should be a comparable matter of concern to the state of the traditional public school. We can all do more and should do more for our public school system and I challenge each of you to make your pledge now for what you will start doing in the fall for our schools.
In closing, I will say that which should come as no surprise to you. I am not an opponent of school choice. What I must also say, however, is that in my years of seeking out the best educational opportunity for my child, I have found no solution that stands out head and shoulders above any others. That goes for public schools, private schools, charter schools or home schools. They are all a mixed bag with both pros and cons and at any given time in a particular child’s educational career one may be a better solution than the other for the child and/or the parent.
This notwithstanding, I am proud to say that the Edgecombe County Public School System still has a great deal to offer, not only to the children who may not have the option of school choice, it has a great deal to offer those children who do.
Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you.
Teresa DeLoatch Bryant
District 2 Representative
Edgecombe County Board of Education