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Umstead, Lewis to lead school board in 2021-22

Chair Bettina Umstead and Vice Chair Jovonia Lewis

At the Durham Public Schools Board of Education’s annual organizational meeting on Thursday, July 1, Bettina Umstead (District 2) was unanimously re-elected chair of the board. Jovonia Lewis (Consolidated District A) was unanimously elected vice chair. Each will serve for a one-year term.

Following her election, Bettina Umstead said:

I appreciate you trusting me to lead you again this year. It’s been an unprecedented year. I feel like we have learned a lot. We’ve learned what it looks like to collaborate with each other, to advocate for what we need, and to work in community to make sure that our students, our staff, and our families have what they need. And I hope that we look forward to doing more of that in the next coming year.

We know that we have some of the greatest educators in Durham Public Schools, who have worked tirelessly this past year. I hope that we continue to honor and celebrate them, lean into their expertise, and, again, do what we need to do to recover from this pandemic, continue to navigate it, and work together to do what’s in the best interest of our students. I know if we do that, working together, we’ll be able to ignite the limitless potential of our students, our families, our staff, and I know that impact will have a greater impact on the Durham community. So, thank you all.

Following her election, Jovonia Lewis said:

I am excited and humbled that you have put confidence in me to be the vice chair. In one word, this last year can be captured—Chair Umstead said it first—it has been unprecedented. But I know that when I joined the Board last year that I was surrounded by a strong Board, diligent administrators, and dedicated educators, and together we made it. I’m happy to have been a part of the Board where we got to a point of having one-to-one technology for all of our students. We took our time, were very thoughtful and considerate, in how we would return back to school. And we prevented with our safety measures any cluster spread of COVID. And we can’t forget our stakeholders who ran Learning Centers for our students and families who needed it. This year was unprecedented—it was challenging—but I have seen people rise and I am grateful. 

Coming into the school year I know that we will do amazing work. We are considering, of course, and have things in practice and in place, for our social-emotional learning with our students. We are working with rigor to recapture what was delayed academically last year—delayed but not denied. And as we host summer learning sessions this year, I know that we are already on our way. So, I’m excited to work alongside you all, igniting the limitless potential of our students. I definitely have faith in our administration to come with innovative solutions in this upcoming year, as we work and operate with a growth mindset. I have faith in our Board for governing with fervor and keeping our students first in every decision. And I have faith, the utmost faith, in our brilliant educators to meet the needs of every single student, with ethical practices, rigor, and a growth mindset. I look forward to continuing to serve alongside you all and in any way needed to be in service with Board Chair Bettina Umstead. Thank you.