Naranjo retiring from school board

Published 10:28 am Wednesday, June 4, 2014

COURTLAND—Roberta Naranjo, who has served on the Southampton County School Board for 40 years, has decided not to seek another term for the Boykins District. Wayne Cosby, who leads the panel that oversees appointments, made the announcement on Tuesday at the start of the public hearing for candidates to serve three open slots.

“I have served constantly and consistently for 40 years,” Naranjo told The Tidewater News. “I’ve enjoyed every single minute. My husband has now retired. I just decided it would be OK. There are good candidates. I thought this is a good time to step down.

“I thought about a long time. I’ll miss the work. It’s a wonderful way to serve the community, and everything’s going well. Every once in awhile you have to take a pause.”

Cosby publicly acknowledged Naranjo, whose term ends this month.

“We want to thank you for your many years of service, wisdom and expertise,” he said.

She was given a standing ovation by the 26 people in attendance.

Following that news, six people presented themselves for consideration, beginning with the Boykins seat.

Introduced by Mayor Spier Edwards as being “the best qualified,” Dr. Carolyn Modlin was the first of two people applying for the spot.

“My district has been well represented by Mrs. Naranjo,” she said. “Her shoes are extremely large and difficult to fill, but I would like the opportunity to fill them.”

Modlin said that among her qualifications are her having taught all grade levels, including adjunct and full-time at Chowan University in Murfreesboro, North Carolina.

William Brown of Branchville was the second candidate for the seat. He praised the county’s public school system. He said he has learned time management, how to do budgets and also to be a good listener.

“Most important is my passion to serve on this board,” said Brown, who said he has two children at Meherrin Elementary School. “I’ve prayed about it…and am not taking this lightly.”

Cover 3 founder and CEO Greg Scott, who said he’s known his friend since 1994, spoke on his behalf and called him “a very stand-up guy and a leader. His leadership has rubbed off on me.”

Only one person announced his intention for the Jerusalem District chair, and that was Christopher Smith Sr., who already serves that place on the board.

“I request reappointment to serve our students, parents and citizens of Southampton County,” said Smith, who added that he believes the selection process has “served our way very well.”

Four people spoke on his behalf, beginning with Charles Turner, who called Smith, “an effective leader and chairman who’s served with distinction.”

Fellow board member Naranjo spoke highly of him, as well as Florence Reynolds, who asked the panel to “really consider his reappointment. He has done an excellent job.”

Russell Schools, a former school superintendent, said ditto to those sentiments for both Smith, as well as Diane B. Jones, who wants to continue serving the at-large position on board.

“Helping children is what I live for,” she said while listing some of her qualifications. These include serving as chairwoman of the special needs department and the Lifesavers reading program.

Turner and Reynolds also spoke up for Jones.

“You can see why this board is so strong,” added Naranjo.

Two men also vying for the seat are William Worsham, who said he’s been a teacher, coach and administrator.

“My philosophy is that every child is a learner,” he said. “I want to be a part of a continuing good reputation [of the board]. We can continue with excellence.”

David, his son, said his father, “Has a very, very, very strong interest in education. He made me the best student I could be.”

Reagan Pittman, best friend to Worsham’s daughter, also praised the candidate.

“He definitely has a love for children and encourages them,” she said.

Gary Cross said that having Worsham serve would be a great advantage to the board.

John Brown Jr. of Newsoms is the second man asking for appointment.

Larry Fowler said the candidate “has a very common-sense approach to the board. He’ll fight four our children.”

An officer on the Virginia State Police force, Brown said he believes that his uniqueness qualifies him for the seat.

“My drive and my love for kids is where I stand out,” said Brown. “I’m really driving to helping kids. I think I can be a very good team player.”

On behalf of fellow panel members Emerson Kitchen Sr. and Mark Hodges, Cosby thanked all the candidates and their supporters. He said the decisions will be announced at 11 a.m. Tuesday, June 10, at the same location, the Extension office next to the School Board building on Plank Road in Courtland.

The new terms for anyone appointed to those seats would be from July 1 to June 30, 2018.