DOBSON — Surry County Board of Education District 4 incumbent Brian Gates has announced he will not seek re-election for the position as he finishes out his third term this summer. The board vice chairman recalled this week how his interest in running for the spot he has served in began 12 years ago.
“I had a young child in the system at that time and I was interested about the school system having a lot of mobile (classroom) units. I knew they were very confining and there was a need for a building program. Overall, I was interested because I wanted to be more involved in Surry County Schools and be a voice for its staff and students and I hope that’s what I’ve done.”
Gates said he felt proud about how the system had built two new schools with major renovations to a third to reduce the mobile units which he feels helps learning and helps principals better manage safe and orderly learning environments.
He said some of the recent top accomplishments of the board he is most proud of is the 1:1 technology laptop initiative which began with seventh-graders in the system and has been expanded all the way up the ranks to seniors.
“All this enhanced technology we offer for our students has changed along with how I’ve seen education change through 12 years,” said Gates. “We have definitely helped propel our students into the 21st century.”
He said he is also very proud to have been part of an administration where there was no huge loss of personnel, in spite of the struggling economy.
“We haven’t had to turn out anyone. They may have had to be reassigned, but none of our people were sent packing during the tough budget years we’ve had,” Gates said. “I’ve been blessed to be among board members who were not only colleagues but people I count as dear friends now. We may have not agreed on everything down through the years, but we always cared first for the students. This is the proudest accomplishment of my professional career. I believe we have the greatest school system in the world.”
Gates said he realized his new position as divisional administrator with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety would not allow him to be as involved as he needed to be on the board and said this was the major reason he decided not to run for re-election.
Gates and his wife, Sherry, have two children. Jackson attends Surry Central and Cannon is a student at Rockford Elementary.
“I feel like we have accomplished a great deal as a board and I’m proud of that,” said Gates. “I also feel perhaps this is a time for some fresh eyes and perspectives. The persons who have filed to run are all quality individuals who’ll bring a great deal to (support) the school system. One thing that always reassured me was observing how hard our students work in every task academic and athletic. That’s always been a joy and confirmed my commitment. I plan to stay involved in the future, just in a different capacity.”
David Broyles may be reached at 336-719-1952 or on Twitter @MtAiryNewsDave.