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Seven seek Galax School Board seats

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By April Wright, Reporter

As the terms expire in June for Galax School Board vice chairwoman Theresa Lazo and chairman Ray Kohl, seven candidates — including one incumbent — are vying for the two seats.

Lazo has decided not to seek reappointment.

After interested citizens submitted letters of interest, a public hearing was held during Monday's Galax City Council meeting to hear a brief introduction from and conduct interviews with each of the candidates.

With seven people to interview, the council meeting lasted until 11:15 p.m.

Council will announce appointments at its March 9 meeting. The terms will run July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2012.

Michael Andrew Blackburn

Based on his background in building trades, such as carpentry, plumbing and electrical work, Blackburn believes he can help make parents, students, the school board and council aware of the school system's building safety and repair needs.

Blackburn said his other plans are to show the students, parents and teachers the future.

“I want to show that the real highs in life are learning about things such as history, nature and technology and not smoking, drinking and drugs,” Blackburn told council. “I want to show the importance of going to college and volunteer work.”

Brandon Boyles

The former assistant commonwealth's attorney in Grayson County is seeking appointment to the school board in order to become more active in the community.

Since his parents were educators — his mother in Tazewell County and his father in Mercer County, W.Va. — Boyles has been closely connected to the issues that pertain to education.

“And I believe that service on this board would enable me to contribute to ensuring that the quality of education that the children of this city — and someday my children — continues to be one of the best throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia,” he said.

Boyles, a 29-year-old graduate of Virginia Tech and the Appalachian School of Law, is a founding partner of the Grayson Law Firm located in Independence.

Doug Brannock

The Galax native's family has supported the school system and its athletics through personal time and various forms of donations.

Brannock has studied business administration and accounting in college.

“I am vested in the past while desiring the future success of our school system and the children within,” he said.

His two sons — one in the third grade and the other in kindergarten — are enrolled in the Galax school system.

“I simply feel compelled to assist the kids of this area in their future educational development,” said Brannock.

Brannock is the vice president and controller of Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Co. Through this experience, he is aware of budget protocols, he said.

“We're going to have to think outside of the box and empower these kids,” he said. “If I'm appointed, I would serve with dedication, enthusiasm and perseverance.”

Ray Kohl

Incumbent Kohl, who serves as the board's chairman, asked to be reappointed.

As a board member, he has seen through the renovations of Galax's elementary, middle and high schools and has seen several sports teams added to the variety of extracurricular activities offered at Galax.

But most importantly, he said, among 132 school divisions in the commonwealth, Galax City Schools was one of the 17 divisions in which all schools made adequate yearly progress and the division as a whole made progress. The schools have also been fully accredited.

“At this time of change in the superintendent and the budgetary challenges that face our school system, I feel that experience and continuity on the school board are essential.”

Kohl has four children that have graduated from Galax schools and two enrolled in the system.

Along with principals and superintendents, Kohl was appointed to serve on the Virginia High School League board of directors to represent the desires and wishes of this community.

Helen Kyle

The former city councilwoman feels that her passion for quality education for all students — coupled with her varied business background — allows her to better serve the community.

“I am a proud graduate of Galax High School and a life-long advocate of education,” said Kyle. “I would like to further the tradition to further the education of the school system.”

Jacqueline Roberts

An active member of the community, Roberts has been a resident of the city for more than nine years, has been a small business owner and has served on the volunteer board for Twin County United Way for eight years.

She has two children enrolled in Galax Elementary and has a master's degree in counselor education from Virginia Tech. She has worked at a counseling agency and as a substitute teacher.

“I believe education is the foundation of our community,” Roberts said. “I believe it is vital for all parties to work together for the common goal of our children.”

Doug Williams

As an owner of an architectural firm in Galax, Williams said most of his work is focused on educational projects like additions, renovations and facility planning studies to schools in Wise, Smyth and Roanoke.

For 13 years, he has been a resident of the city. Williams' two children attend Galax Elementary and his wife teaches seventh grade language arts at Galax Middle.

“My interest in the appointment stems from an attitude toward inspired learning, which I believe to be the product of a positive educational environment,” he said. “The cumulative parts include qualified teachers who encourage as well as educate, academic and vocation learning opportunities that are engaging as well as challenging, and physical surroundings that promote growth both educationally and socially.”

Williams is an advocate of extracurricular activities and student involvement in civic groups.

As a board member, he said he would encourage an abundance of programs to better prepare students for the real world.