Holt, Parker appointed to Franklin City School Board seats

Published 3:29 pm Wednesday, July 19, 2023

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Franklin City Council appointed Robert Holt on June 12 to serve another term as the Ward 1 representative on the Franklin City School Board, and LaChanda E. Parker was appointed to serve in the board’s Ward 3 seat.

Both Holt and Parker are serving three-year terms that began July 1 and will expire June 30, 2026.


Holt said he is starting his 14th year on the board, though he noted these were not consecutive years due to a move to North Carolina in the past and a move from one ward to another within the city in 2017.

His third stint as chair of the board began July 2022. In the past year, he helped manage the school division’s transition at the superintendent position. After Dr. Tamara Sterling tendered her resignation effective Oct. 21, the board voted Oct. 20 to make Assistant Superintendent of Pupil Personnel and Operations Dr. Carlton Carter the interim superintendent of the division.

The board engaged in a search for a permanent superintendent, and it ultimately decided to name Carter to that role March 30.

Holt will now have more time to continue playing a key part in a new administrative chapter for the school system.

“I’m obviously pleased to be reappointed,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of work still to be done. … (Dr. Carter has) done a really good job filling in as an interim and now a permanent (superintendent). So I think he’s going to do very, very well.

“I’m excited about our board right now,” Holt added. “We have a really good mix of experience and new ideas coming in.”

He noted that At-Large Board Member and Vice Chair Carrie Johnson and Ward 6 Board Member Jerry McCreary have years of experience now on the board, Ward 2 Board Member Arwen Councill and Ward 5 Board Member Brittany S. Powell have each served one year now, and Ward 4 Board Member Cristina Boone has been on the board for just more than five months.

“I’ve had some conversations with LaChanda Parker, and I think she’s going to do well,” Holt said. “So there’s a lot of enthusiasm. I think the board is enthusiastic, the superintendent is enthusiastic, but we all know we have a lot of work to do, so we’re kind of ready to get going.”

Holt is a graduate of Franklin High School. He attended Virginia Tech, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business management, a master’s degree in education and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in higher education, which represented doctoral studies.

He has served on other education regional advisory boards, including Governor’s School — Petersburg, Governor’s School — Norfolk, and the Southeastern Cooperative Educational Programs Board for Tidewater.

He has represented Franklin on the Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia Board, serving since 2020 on the Hayden Advisory Board.

Holt was also recognized by the Virginia School Boards Association as one of two Virginia School Board Members of the Year in 2021.

Holt was reappointed to the Franklin City School Board on June 12 by a vote of 5-2. Ward 3 Councilman Gregory McLemore and Ward 6 Councilwoman Jessica G. Banks were the dissenting votes. McLemore and Banks supported the other individual nominated for the Ward 1 seat — Audrey Lee. 


Parker and Mary Lane Williams were nominated for the Ward 3 seat on the school board. 

The council voted 7-0 on June 12 to appoint Parker to the seat. 

Multiple council members expressed appreciation for Williams’ willingness to serve, and Ward 1 Councilman Mark R. Kitchen said, “We hope to see you in the near future.”

Born and raised in Franklin, Parker is a 2003 graduate of Franklin High School and the Governor’s School for the Arts, where she majored in dance. She is returning to Franklin after a 20-year career in the military.

“I am very honored to have been appointed as the Ward 3 representative on the Franklin City Public Schools school board,” she said.

She noted that her daughter prompted her involvement in the school division.

“I knew I wanted to do something that was involved with the community and with the schools,”  she said. “When I was asked about joining the school board, I decided to accept the challenge. My daughter is a major stakeholder — she’ll be in kindergarten this fall. Why would I not do everything to ensure her success?”

Parker said she wants to affect positive change in the school system.

A brief biography on Parker noted that very shortly after graduating from high school, she went to Basic Recruit Training in Great Lakes, Illinois. She had enlisted in the Delayed Entry Program prior to that in October 2002. 

Following training, she became an airman apprentice and finished the Aviation Ordnanceman “A” School at Naval Air Technical Training Center in Pensacola, Florida. After this, she was assigned to the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) — Naval Station Norfolk from November 2003 to March 2009. 

Parker gained significant experience in squadrons and on ships during her military career:

  • She completed two deployments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, earned her Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist Pin, Quality Assurance/Safety Observer qualification, and was promoted to the rank of Aviation Ordnanceman Second Class.  
  • From August 2012 to October 2017, Parker served on board the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) — Naval Station Norfolk. Her roles included Lead Petty Officer, Leading Chief Petty Officer of Safety Department, and Production Supervisor for G-3 and G-1 Divisions. 
  • From June 2019 to June 2022, she personally developed more than 1,500 officers and officer candidate students in Rhode Island. 

Parker’s personal awards include the Navy Commendation Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (six awards) and various unit and campaign awards.

She is now on terminal leave, and her last day of service will be on July 31.

Parker is a graduate of the University of Charleston in West Virginia. She has an associate degree in frontline leadership, and she is concluding work toward her bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership.

In addition to rearing her own daughter and operating two in-home businesses, she is also quite active at Franklin-based New Life Church Global, where she serves on the usher board and as leader for the praise dancing ministry.

The first school board meeting of Parker’s and Holt’s new terms is set for Thursday, July 20, at 7 p.m. at Franklin City Hall, which is located at 207 W. 2nd Ave.