DOBSON — Outgoing County Board of Education Vice Chairman Brian Gates’ passion for children’s education and compassion were honored at a reception Tuesday afternoon at Surry Central High School.
“We are here to recognize Mr. Gates today for the 12 years of service he has given to Surry County Schools,” said Superintendent Dr. Travis Reeves to a cafeteria filled with family, school staffers and educators from across the county. “We also want to thank his family for allowing him to serve.”
Reeves recognized members of Gates’s family who were present and recognized Board Chairman Earlie Coe, board members Sue Stone, Brian Moser, Clark Goings, incoming board members Dr. Terri Mosley and Mamie Sutphin, County Commissioner Buck Golding, Surry Community Board of Trustees member Van Tucker and Board President Deidre Rogers, Surry County Schools Educational Foundation President Brent McKinney, Clerk of the Court Becky Brindle and Register of Deeds Carolyn Comer.
“When I met him one thing clear to me was his passion on behalf of children, schools and school employees,” Reeves said. “That’s the way he lives his life. You’ve meant a lot to a lot of people.”
Coe told the group how he and Gates started together on the board and how at one of the first meetings he brought up an idea and called him later to ask if he went too far.
“I told him we should use caution but we can’t go too far when it’s in the best interest of children,” Coe said. “He has fought valiantly for Surry County Schools to be on top and his support of the 1:1 (laptop computer) Initiative is an example of how the board’s mission should be to help all kids to have a good life. A life that is better for everyone. He is also probably one of the best friends I’ve ever had in my life.”
Outgoing Board member Sue Stone, a 36-year board veteran, said she was grateful to have had the pleasure to serve with Gates for 12 years.
“He came to the board with a vision and a new perception as a father with young children,” said Stone. “The 1:1 Initiative was his brainchild and The Athletic Council has helped to make little league athletics more organized and more of a part of our school system as we grow good student-athletes. I wish we weren’t here today doing this. He will be missed. I will miss his technical help (on computers) and I will miss his hugs. God bless him.”
Board member Clark Goings told the group he hated to see Gates go and said he loved Gates like a brother even though they didn’t see eye to eye on every issue he wished him well. Moser told the group he was “the new kid on the block” on the board and realized in his first term home much more he had to learn. He said he appreciated what Gates had accomplished.
“It’s difficult to be among so many who have done so much for me,” said Gates, who thanked his wife, Sherry, for being with him every step of the way. “I am a product of this system. I want you to know I love this system. I am humbled to be here with all of you today. To my fellow board members, it’s been a really good ride and it’s rare to serve on a board with mutual respect and admiration. I’m stepping aside, not stepping away and will continue to be an advocate for Surry County Schools.”
Reeves presented Gates with a plaque honoring him for exceptional service, a scrapbook with pages from every school and the system’s transportation department and staff and a clock recognizing the time he devoted to children. The event was catered by Surry Central Culinary Arts Program students.
David Broyles may be reached at 336-719-1952 or on twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.