New school board members seek to unify

Published 11:26 am Saturday, August 10, 2013

FRANKLIN—Three people, one common objective — bring the community together.

“I’d like to make some positive changes,” said Nancy Godwin in reference to what impact she hopes to make. “I’d like to get the community behind the schools more. I hope to change the mindset and public perception of the schools.”

Godwin, ward 2, Jeanette Austin, ward 5, and Dawna Walton, ward 6, have all begun their terms on the Franklin City Public Schoolsw Board.

Godwin has lived in Franklin for 13 years, and her two boys are both in the school system. This stay-at-home mom joined so that she could have a positive impact on the education of the children in the system, including her own.

“I’ve subbed for several years, I know a lot about the schools, and I wanted to help,” Godwin said. “I know the students and I know most of the teachers. They are all great, and I’ve had nothing but good experiences.”

Austin, who commutes to work at J.C. Penney in Chesapeake, does not have any children, but she graduated from the system and has lived in Franklin all her life. Austin said she joined because she wanted to spend time volunteering for an important cause.

“A school board calls for a whole lot of time, and I’m willing,” she said. “I want to see what we can do to get the kids better scores in the SOL (Virginia Dept. of Education Standards of Learning) scores, and also within math.

“I love Franklin — it is a great place to live. The people here are so nice. I just wanted to give back to this community that I love so much.”

Walton and her husband moved to Franklin for the small-town atmosphere when he retired from the military. She works in Suffolk as a patient coordinator for an oral hygienist.

“I hope to help bring the community back together,” Walton said. “We need to focus on educating all of the children, from all walks of life, that’s where our priority needs to be.”

Godwin, Austin and Walton are still learning about what it takes to be school board members, but they all agree that they are enjoying the experience.

“It has been very good — the school board is a great group of people,” Walton said. “I look forward to the future with this new board.”

Franklin City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Michelle Belle said she has enjoyed working with them so far.

“They are welcome additions,” Belle said. “They seem to be very in tune and vested in the initiatives that we are trying to move forward with.

“They are working hard already, in a very short time.”

Walton said she just hopes that she, the other new members, and the rest of the school board have a positive impact on the children.

“My oldest daughter is an education major at ODU (Old Dominion) — education is very important to us,” Walton said. “As cliché as it is, the children really are our future, and we have to educate them in order for them to be productive citizens.”