David Robinson and Sherrill Jolly are facing off for the Board of Education seat in Brunswick County’s District 2. Both candidates are newcomers to elective office -- but, they’re no strangers to the school system they hope to serve.
A lifelong resident of Brunswick County, David Robinson upset Republican incumbent Catherine Cooke in the primary. Robinson grew up in the Brunswick school system.
“I had good opportunities when I was young. I was able to become a part of the Fire and Emergency Services, and I have continued that through the years. And I thought that the Board of Education would be a good opportunity for me to continue to help young people build on their education -- sort of like the opportunities I had.”
Robinson’s opponent is Sherrill Jolly. She’s a Democrat who retired 2 years ago after 30 years of teaching in Brunswick County Schools. Concerns about transparency and communication inspired her to run.
“A lot of people, a lot of parents feel that they aren't listened to by the school board. Everybody should feel like, ‘someone is listening to me.’ I know teachers do not feel listened to, or even consulted. And that is one of the biggest issues for me, we have got to make people in the community feel like they are a part of the educational process.”
David Robinson shares that concern, and thinks too many board meetings are moved into closed session.
But the two candidates differ when it comes to their other priorities. Jolly wants to address achievement gaps in test proficiency and graduation rates. Her idea for narrowing that gap is expanding Smart Start, the statewide initiative that prepares children for school.
“In Brunswick County, we don't have enough seats for the people who want to be part of the program. I would like to see it maybe move to the elementary schools and expanded. So we've got to get funding, and then we've got to figure out where we can house a bigger program.”
Robinson wants to focus on bullying and mental health issues.
“Some of the ideas I would like to see brought forth is bringing stakeholders together, developing a committee and looking at other school systems across the nation and see what they've done as best practices to combat bullying.”
Robinson doesn’t want the pandemic to overshadow other concerns. But, he does hope to get schools open as soon as possible -- and wants parents to decide what’s right for their kids.
“Some folks don't want their child back in school right now to risk exposure. Some parents do, because they're trying to make the household run. So I think it's a situation where we need to let the parents make that decision, but we do need to get the schools back open and we need to have processes in place for infection control procedures.”
Jolly agrees with the need to reopen schools, but believes teachers need to be involved in that decision-making.
“Teachers are not asked what they think -- some of whom have autoimmune illnesses themselves that cause them to be more susceptible, or they have diabetes or high blood pressure. A lot of them are taking care of elderly parents. So I think teachers need to be consulted.”
Voting information for Brunswick County residents can be found here. Election Day is November 3rd.