Connie C. Burford is a candidate for Accomack Co. School Board – District 1. Her name will appear on the ballot on November 7, 2023.

She is running against Jesse W. Speidel for the seat.

The first day of in-person early voting at your local registrar’s office for this election is Friday, Sept. 22, 2023. Click here to see who is on your ballot.

10 On Your Side reached out to all of the candidates running in this race. If you do not see the candidate listed with a profile, we did not receive one.

Name: Connie C. Burford

Age: N/A

Race: Accomack Co. School Board – District 1

Website: N/A

Biography: I was a nurse by profession and most of my time was spent in the operating room. However, my life became complete when I became a mother. It wasn’t my intention to be a single parent of two, but God never gives you more than you can handle. I have two adult children. My 26 year old daughter, is an educator having graduated from both Longwood University with a BS in Ed, and Liberty University with a Masters in curriculum design and educational technology. My 25 year old son, was born with Autism and various learning disabilities. He graduated from high school, swam on the swim team, and was the first student with disabilities allowed into the Building and Trades program in our division. 

Over the years I have served on the School Health Advisory Board, Superintendent’s Advisory Commitee, participated on the Special Education Advisory Council, was co-sponsor of BETA club at Arcadia High School, an active member in the PTA at each of my children’s schools, Kegotank Elementary, Arcadia Middle, and Nandua Middle schools. I also was a very active participant in the Booster clubs at both Arcadia and Nandua High Schools. Over the years, I have had the pleasure of decorating Nandua High School for the holidays every year until the schools were shut down by covid and the school suffered the loss of their beloved principal, George Parker. I shared this responsibility with my friend, Susan Wilder, who was also a Special Education teacher at Nandua.

When my daughter became an educator and was hired by ACPS, she was placed at Chincoteague Elementary school. During her second year teaching our family was devastated by the loss of our uncle, Ricky Burford, a retired ACPS school teacher as well. The first opportunity we had, we moved to Chincoteague Island and we’ve never regretted that decision. We love being a part of the community, attending community events, and being close to the schools is a huge plus. 

I’ve always been involved with our school system as a parent and advocate. I attend all school board meetings and post videos of them online for our stakeholders to see.

Why are you running for this office?

I feel there is a huge disconnect between the system as it is now and our parents, teachers, students and staff. This disconnect is having detrimental effects in our classrooms and our community as a whole. There’s a huge lack of transparency in our county. Parents, students, and other stakeholders are often kept in the dark regarding upcoming policies until it’s too late to act on the policy. I want the educators to have someone that is going to listen to them on the board. I want to help ensure complete transparency for the parents, students, and stakeholders. I want parents to have a voice in their children’s education and to know that their children are safe in our school buildings. Most importantly, I want the children to know that their education, safety, happiness, and well-being are the top priority for all the Accomack County School Board and it’s staff. My mission is to return our schools to a time where learning was fundamental, respect was given, and safety was expected.

What is the most important issue facing Accomack County Public Schools and what is your position on it?

Teacher retention! All states are facing a shortage of teachers across the country. We are faced with unique issues because only a few miles away our neighboring state of Maryland has salaries that are considerably higher than ours. We lose wonderful teachers constantly to Maryland. It’s come to a point where we are having to hire people that do not have any type of teaching background at all. Those employees have to take a course to get a provisional license and then have four years to get their teaching degree. We are also hiring teachers from other countries to fill positions. We need to make sure that all of those who we hire have the support that they need to be successful in the long term. I think we are falling short on that. Teaching is a skill that does not come natural to all. Behavior management needs to be taught by someone who knows what they are doing. In order for these teachers to be effective in the classroom they need mentor teachers with them daily. We need to do that. We need to continue to grow our own teachers by encouraging our students to enter into the profession. The best way that we can do that is to support our staff and make the work environment more rewarding for our employees. 

How do you feel about the politicization of public education?

Public education has been politicized for a long time. It’s just now more open. The Virginia School Board Association claims to be non-partisan but it’s not. It doesn’t take a very in depth search to reveal their left wing ideologies. They attempt to “train” new school board members to think like they do. Many of them do, because they don’t realize that they can make independent decisions. Not every person on a school board has to agree on everything all the time. While they function as a whole and all are responsible for the decisions made by the board, they vote as individuals. With those individual votes there are bound to be some political influences. \

How will you still value constituents and politicians with whom you disagree? 

All opinions are valued. It’s how we learn to broaden our horizons. If I don’t agree with a constituent or a politician there is a time when you have to agree to disagree and move forward. I grew up in a house with two Cowboys fans and I was the only Redskins fan around. Sundays and Mondays were not quiet around our house. Heaven forbid when they played against each other. My point is, not everyone is right all the time. I’m always willing to learn about new things.