By Jessica Farrish
BECKLEY — Three Raleigh County Board of Education members have been awarded the Margaret Baldwin Friend of Education award by the West Virginia Education Association (WVEA).
Raleigh BOE Vice President Larry Ford and BOE members Cindy Jafary and Sally Susman were honored at a WVEA delegate banquet in Charleston on April 25, taking their place on a “Friend of Education” honoree list that also includes past West Virginia governors Arch Moore and Gaston Caperton, former Congressman Bob Wise, former West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Judge Warren McGraw, Justices Darrell McGraw, Thomas McHugh and Thomas Miller, past House Speaker Richard Thompson and former State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jorea Marple.
The board members were nominated by Raleigh County Education Association Co-President Marie Hamrick.
“Raleigh County Board of Education members Larry Ford, Cindy Jafary and Sally Susman represent the very essence of this award,” Hamrick said Thursday. “In this age where it seems that everyone fancies themselves experts on education, it is rare when elected officials will seek input of teachers, rarer still when they actually act upon the expertise of those in the classroom.
“Raleigh County educators and service professionals are fortunate to have not one, not two, but three such board members ... who don’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk.”
RCEA members praised the trio for their dedication to the educational system and for their selfless service.
“Seldom these days do those elected to public office seek to serve those they represent,” RCEA Vice President Fred Farris said. “They tend to use their power for their own agendas or personal gain.
“These three have as their priority to serve the students, parents and school employees of Raleigh County.”
Serita Beckett, RCEA treasurer, said Jafary, Ford and Susman were chosen as an example of ethical public servants.
“This award was also given to show other county board members statewide that it is possible to do the right thing for children and employees even when the pressure is strong to do otherwise,” explained Beckett.
Woodrow Wilson High School teacher John Quesenberry, who also serves as a WVEA executive committee member, said the three BOE members have a history of making decisions based on concerns for public interest.
“Even when it’s not easy or necessarily popular with everyone, these elected members do the citizens of Raleigh County proud by standing up for parents, students and education employees by making decisions which are in the best interest of Raleigh County schools,” said Quesenberry.
Jafary said she was honored to receive the award.
“It’s really humbling,” said Jafary. “It was a really great honor.”
Ford said he was honored to receive the award.
“However, it’s the teachers who are in the classroom every day and the school service people who are the real friends of education,” said Ford.
Susman was unavailable for comment, but RCEA Co-President Wendy Peters said Susman’s service on the board is appreciated by teachers.
“There has never been a time when Sally (Susman) didn’t support educators,” said Peters. “She’s a longtime friend of educators.”