The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education will be entering the new year with new leadership.
Board member Jillian La Serna was elected to serve as the board's new chairperson at a Dec. 3 meeting, and Deon Temne was elected as the board's vice chairperson. Both La Serna and Temne became board members in 2019.
La Serna replaces former chairperson Mary Ann Wolf, who continues to serve on the board as a member, while Temne replaces Amy Fowler, who vacated her seat on the board to become an Orange County Commissioner.
She comes from a background in education. She became principal of Carrboro Elementary in 2013 after a two year stint as assistant principal. In 2019, she became an assistant professor of educational leadership at UNC-Charlotte.
La Serna said she feels well-prepared for the duties of chairperson due to her work in education and year of service on the board.
“In every role I've been in, I’ve always enjoyed the role of being a facilitator and assisting in facilitating conversation and decision making processes,” she said.
Temne is a military veteran who has served on the School Improvement Teams for both Rashkis Elementary and Northside Elementary, as well as the Equity Advisory Council, Family Commission and Special Needs Advisory Council. He's been vocal about his commitment to correcting racial inequalities in education like disproportionate discipline rates and the achievement gap.
Temne did not respond to The Daily Tar Heel for an interview.
Riza Jenkins is the president of the CHCCS PTA Council, which is a body made up of all PTAs in the district and works with the board on issues of advocacy, especially around school funding. She said she appreciates the personal qualities both La Serna and Temne bring.
“I felt they would bring great perspective to the board to make sure the board represents all the voices in the community,” Jenkins said. “I feel like they ask the questions I'm thinking as a parent and as a community member.”
Wolf said she is pleased La Serna and Temne are willing to step up.
“I find them to be very thoughtful individuals who ask excellent questions," Wolf said, "and I do feel like we’re a board who are so committed to our kids, so I have faith in each of them as leaders."
Several challenges face the board as it enters the new year, from aging facilities to the struggles created by the pandemic. In addition, the district is going through changes like the transition to a new superintendent, Nyah Hamlett.
But through all this, La Serna affirmed the board’s commitment to equity.
“Of utmost priority, as it has been, is addressing equity in our district and really making changes to ensure our district is serving every student who walks through the halls,” she said.
La Serna said looking toward the future, community members can expect the board to prioritize communication and listening.
"I think there’s lots of opportunities for a dialogue in the coming year," she said.
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