They've got a lot to be proud of. Three members of the McDuffie County Board of Education served their last month in office in December, and their replacements will take the reigns today at the monthly planning meeting.
"I'm going to cry," Virginia Bradshaw said at the December meeting. "Thank all of you, and welcome new members."
Ms. Bradshaw was the chairwoman of the board for the past year and had served on the board for eight years, which is the limit of term of office for the McDuffie County school board. Insurance agent Greg Derry was elected in a run-off in December to take her seat for Single District 5.
"It certainly has been probably one of the most rewarding experiences I've had. Just watching the children as they grow and learn and to be able to make decisions to make their lives better, has been rewarding," Mrs. Bradshaw said.
Jerry Randolph also served on the BOE for eight years, representing Single District 6. Dexter Lovins, who is retired from Eisenhower Army Medical Center, won a run-off election in December for the seat.
"Oh my goodness, I had some goals and objectives that I wanted to meet when I came on board," Mr. Randolph said, adding that the graduation rate was around 55 percent at that time.
"Well, now it's around 77-78 percent. I'm real proud of that," he said.
Mr. Randolph said he is proud of what the board accomplished during his tenure, which includes building the new junior high school, and implementing the JROTC program, the Renaissance program and the new Ombudsman alternative school.
"I'm very much proud of (Ombudsman), although I can't take credit for it. Mrs. Bradshaw brought that to the board and we approved it," he said. "And doing all that while making the budget, even being under budget every year. Golly, we've done a lot."
Paul Leroy was elected to the board four years ago, and was defeated in November's General Election by Bob Smith for the Super District 2 seat. During his campaign, Mr. Leroy also touted staying under budget and increasing the graduation rate as his points of pride. But Mr. Leroy took it a step farther, saying he was proud of the increase of student attendance, increase of test scores in all grades and the decrease of discipline referrals and dropouts. Even with everything he was proud of, Mr. Leroy kept his perspective at the end of his last meeting.
"I've really been humbled and overcome with joy to have had the opportunity to serve, and to serve with my fellow board members, and to serve in the distinguished system that we have," he said. "We have outstanding teachers and outstanding students. I'd like to wish them continued success."
The new members are scheduled to be sworn in before the planning meeting Thursday at the central office by McDuffie County Probate Judge Valerie Burley.