Name: Thelma V. Hinton
Biography: Thelma V. Hinton was a member of the Suffolk School Board from 2009 until 2012, including serving as the vice chair from 2011 until 2012. She is currently on the board of the Virginia Legal Aid Society for the city of Suffolk.
1. Why should residents elect you to the School Board?
I come with the most experience including 20 years of board experience. I have proven leadership ability to lead the school system. From 2009-2012 I was a member of the Suffolk School Board and from 2011- 2012 I was the Vice Chair. I am familiar with the language of the job. I am assessable to all of my constituents as well as all of the citizens of Suffolk. Being actively involved on boards for the past 20 years, I have sought to create effective change in our Suffolk Community. From 1996 – 2008, I served on the board of the Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority serving as Vice Chair from 2006 to 2008. Presently, I serve on the board of the Virginia Legal Aid Society for the City of Suffolk advocating for the rights and fair treatment of families as a liaison. We serve to help provide services for families who cannot afford a regular attorney. I advocate for fair housing for people who have disabilities, children with disabilities and we cover a broad perspective of services for the underprivileged.
2. What would you do to improve school security?
Hiring professional law enforcement officers like retired deputy sheriffs or police officers who are trained in areas such as security and logistics. I would make sure we have modern metal detectors and scanning equipment for weapons and other contraband which can used to disrupt the educational day. I believe that we need at least two armed officers as grounds man who will not interfere with day to day student or environmental conflicts but the armed officers will be readily available in the event of an active shooter scenario. These individuals would also help to train and educate school populations for these types of incidents.
3. How would you invest in technology and improve its applications in your schools?
Firstly, low-income students and underserved populations are less likely to own computers and use the internet at home. Because of the students’ lack of access, teachers are constantly faced with the challenge of having students who do not have access to the technology needed in today’s educational environment. I would work with my colleagues and the technology department of my school system to ensure that Title 1 schools and underserved populations are just as prepared for success as the more affluent schools in our district.
4. What are the most challenging aspects of being a teacher in your community? How would you support your teachers through these challenges?
Teachers pour themselves into the development and education of our children. In Suffolk Public Schools, we have a very broad spectrum of students that come from many different walks of life and socioeconomic levels yet Suffolk is still a small town with the largest amount of land in square footage. I believe the most challenging aspect for teachers is how to bridge the gaps between those students who come from Title 1 schools and / or struggle with accreditation versus students who do not experience these difficulties.
5. What would you do to better support your vulnerable students? For example, those who live in poverty?
I will make sure that vulnerable students who come from low-income neighborhoods have the proper resources and that funding is available for those students. One of my concerns as a candidate is the accreditation of Title 1 schools and children who are coming from low-income communities. I am an advocate for equal justice and equality in education. I am also a champion for equality across the board for equity in education for all children. We must be fair for all children regardless of their zip code. On May 7, 2018, I appeared in front of the Suffolk Public School Board concerning the rezoning of our children. We have been under Section 5 of the Civil Rights Act since the 1970’s. We have two schools which have not been accredited; Elephants Fork Elementary was just accredited, Booker T Washington, and Mack Benn Jr. Elementary have not been accredited since the inception of the SOL testing in Virginia. Elementary aged children need to stop being expelled especially in the TITLE 1 schools. A solution to advance the education in these schools is to ensure they have the proper tools and good teachers and program funding and feedback from parents, students and stakeholders. Also parental involvement is needed.
6. What are your top three budget priorities?
- School Safety
- Instructional Services (Competitive teacher pay)
- Building / Grounds improvement / Transportation