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Jones to lead school board

Posted: January 10, 2012 5:29 p.m.
Updated: January 11, 2012 5:00 a.m.

(The online version of this story has been corrected to accurately reflect that former school board chairman Joey Dorton did not resign from that position, but chose not to be reelected. The C-I regrets the error.)

Mara Horton Jones was unanimously elected chairman Tuesday of the Kershaw County Board of School Trustees at the first board meeting of the year.

With the election of Kim Horton Durant as the new vice chairman and Carol Thompson as chaplain, the trio will come together this year to create an all-female group of officers. Trustee Matt Irick remains chairman of the finance/facilities committee.

“Everybody has asked me about female leadership; I don’t really think about it,” said Jones. “I just look at what the goals are, but it is the first female board and, as a female, I’m proud.”

Jones has served on the school board since 2005. She had previously filled the office of board chaplain and chairman of the finance/facilities committee before becoming vice chairman last year.

“I have always had the passion to become chairman,” said Jones, who has been the director of operations and treatment programs at The ALPHA Center for 10 years. “Being the finance chair was vital to learn the ins and outs of the district, however. Even though the students and teachers are the backbone of the district, it is critical to be knowledgeable about the finance issues.”

A native of Kershaw County, Jones said she has always been an advocate for children’s education. She has a master’s degree in counseling and years of experience. It was through her work with abused, abandoned, neglected and emotionally disturbed children at Carolina Children’s Home in Columbia that Jones found her “ultimate passion:” at-risk adolescents and youth.

 “Counseling and education can open up avenues for a child so that they can rebuild their life,” Jones said.  “An education will take children anywhere they want to go and it can’t be taken away from them.”

The board voted to elect Jones following Trustee Joey Dorton's decision not to seek reelection as chairman. Dorton will hold a seat on the board until the end of the year.

Jones said she plans to continue to help Kershaw County move in the right direction by improving student achievement; supporting teachers and staff; focusing on current expansion programs; and working to see more equitable funding.

Jones said the quality of teachers in Kershaw County is of high caliber.

“They’ve proven themselves by effectively working through the budget cuts over the last three years,” Jones said. “It is important to compensate them.”

Jones thanked all of the board members for their dedication and faith in her as chairman.

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