PILOT MOUNTAIN — A reception marked by tears and laughter recognized outgoing county Board of Education member Sue Stone’s 36 years of service to the system. The event was held at Pilot Mountain Middle School in the Sue W. Stone Media Center.
School Superintendent Dr. Travis Reeves told the group Stone had served on the board since 1978, working with seven superintendents and 20 different board of education members. She has also served as board chairman and vice chairman, received the Raleigh Dingman Award in 2008 and served a year on the North Carolina State Board of Education (NCSBE) as a part of that award. The Dingman Award is the highest award given by the NCSBE.
Stone has served as chairperson of the school system’s curriculum and instruction committee since the late 1980s, received the highest level of North Carolina School Board Association with 1,000 hours of documented training, served as a leader in events including the Teaching Fellows Selection Committee, Teacher of the Year Selection Committee and as a science fair judge.
“Mrs. Stone has remained involved in building projects at all schools throughout the district and active in all aspects of the planning and building phases,” said Reeves. “She has influenced the implementation of such change agents as middle grades concept (what was to become middle schools) and the systemwide DARE program. She believes that in order to raise student achievement, everyone’s involvement is needed.”
Reeves characterized Stone as one who “avidly reads to understand policies, handbooks and all resources forwarded to her.” He said her leadership style is based on her history and collection of information and facts in addition to an “innate sense of what’s right for all children.”
Notables in attendance included incoming board members Dr. Terri Mosley and Mamie Sutphin who will take office on July 1, Surry Community Board of Trustee’s member Pat Widdowson, former Board of Education member Tim Dockery, former superintendents Marsha Bledsoe and Ashley Hinson, Register of Deeds Carolyn Comer and Clerk of Superior Court Becky Brindle.
Board attorney Frederick Johnson read from an edition of The Mount Airy News dated May 3, 1978 reporting Stone being the first woman elected to the board in Surry County.
“You have been a rock for this school system for 36 years,” Reeves said. He said she could be counted on to be a stoic board of education member who carries respect and pauses and thinks before speaking, drawing on her vast experience.
Board Chairman Earlie Coe told the audience being a board member was one of the hardest jobs he had ever had and joined in with others contrasting Stone’s powerful personality with her diminutive height.
“She is a rock and a lady,” said Coe. “She’s worked tirelessly for Surry County and she has been a stellar help to me. If there was something I needed to know I didn’t look to the minutes I looked to Mrs. Stone. She is the reason Surry County Schools are ranked 19th in the state. No matter where she goes she will always be my mentor and my best friend.”
Vice Chairman Brian Gates agreed with Coe that Stone was the personification of a lady, always conducting herself well. Assistant Superintendent Charles Graham told the group when he was growing up his father described Stone as the best board member ever without any further discussion.
“She is so knowledgeable of anything to do with public education past, present and future. She is certainly not stepping away from her seat on the board from lack of energy. She’s been a champion for students, staff and administration,” said Gates, who also did not seek re-election to the board.
Board member Clark Goings recounted how Stone was known locally for personally visiting classrooms to find out first hand how things were going. Goings said his own family members’ advice to him when he was elected to the post was to “follow Sue Stone’s lead” and he would do fine. He said he hopes her wealth of knowledge has rubbed off a little on him.
Board member Brian Moser said it had been a privilege to work with Stone and that where some have to work for respect “Sue Stone walks in a room and respect is there.”
Stone told the group she didn’t know if she deserved their kind remarks and the event was “not going silently into that good night” as she had requested.
“This has been a wonderful journey for me,” said Stone. “God puts people in our lives to enrich us. I have been blessed to have you individuals in my life. You are the individuals who make this system as great as it is and I appreciate you. My greatest hope is I have made a difference in this school system. I will miss you and hope you’ll let me come back in some small capacity some day.”
Stone received a commemorative clock for taking time on behalf education a scrapbook with massages from all schools in the system as well as the maintenance and transportation departments and a plaque recognizing her for her service.
David Broyles may be reached at 336-719-1952 or on twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.