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Advice to newly-elected board members: Calm down

By Mike Barnhardt

Enterprise Record

Politicians go into office thinking they’re going to change the world.

Clint Junker, chair of the Davie County Board of Education, said he fell into that trap when first elected. His advice to newly-elected school board members?

“First, calm down. Everything is going to be OK. It’s a marathon, not a sprint to get things done.” He urged board members not to feel pressured to know everything, that trained staff works daily for the benefit of students.

He then asked other veteran board members to give advice.

“Trust your fellow board members and be quick to listen and slow to speak,” Wendy Horne said. “You don’t have to say something at every meeting.”

Paul Drechsler said he once believed the board was nothing but a rubber stamp, blindly passing whatever the superintendent recommended. He wanted to be on the board to fix it. Instead, he said he realized that almost every item before the board had been painstakingly studied by competent staff members.

“There’s a lot of work done prior to a board meeting. Now, my questions are more out of curiosity.”

And he agreed with Horne. “I have two ears and one mouth and should use them proportionately.”

“You can’t change Davie County Schools by yourself,” said member Dub Potts. “Use the chain of command when there’s a problem.”

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions,” said Lori Sluder Smith. “The central office staff knows what they’re doing.” She also urged fellow board members and others to be more involved in the schools.

David Carroll said it took him several meetings to become acclimated to board protocols. “The quality, experience and commitment of this board and system is absolutely outstanding.”

Board members come from different backgrounds but work together as a team with a level of trust, Junker said. “Knowing that we’ve got each others’ backs is a big deal.”

It was Cammie Paige Webb’s first full meeting as a board member.