ALBEMARLE — At the Jan. 5 Stanly County Board of Education meeting, new Superintendent Jarrod Dennis and new board Chair Jeff Chance presented a plaque, nameplate and certificate to outgoing chairman of the school board Melvin Poole. Poole had served on the board for 22 years and was a fixture of the institution, helping craft education policy in the district for a generation.
At the beginning of the meeting, Chance and Dennis stood at the podium, called Poole up, and Chance said, “Mr. Poole, on behalf of the Stanly County Board of Education, for your many years of dedicated service to education in Stanly County, we’d like to present you with this plaque, engraved with your years of service, a total of 22 years.”
“We also want to leave you with a little memento,” Dennis said, as Chance handed Poole the nameplate he’d used during meetings. “It’s been up there for a long time. And we want to thank you for everything you’ve done for the students, everything you’ve done for the staff and the community, and we greatly appreciate all your contributions and your dedication.”
“My pleasure,” Poole said, fist–bumping Dennis and Chance, avoiding the conventional handshakes.
Then, as he turned around to have his picture taken, those in attendance gave him a standing ovation.
Chance turned to Poole and said, “Sir, knowing you, as I have the past many years, I’m sure you’d like to say a few words.”
Poole then addressed the board, saying, “To say I don’t miss being here a little bit, I’d be telling a fib, but the good thing about tonight’s meeting is I get to go home early and you guys have to endure.”
He said even though he was leaving because of a lost election, having been defeated in the March primary by Rufus Lefler, it was a good time for him to be leaving the board anyway because of health issues that he needs to focus on.
“And I’ll tell you guys, you guys have got a job on your hands right now,” Poole said. “This thing that started last March and on into now is, in my book, something right out of the pits of hell. And I just wish you all the best in dealing with this and hope the public can be patient with you until this whole thing is resolved. And I wish all of you well.”
Poole said they’d still have some interaction because he will remain on the community college board, so there will be some issues they will need to collaborate on at times. He also said he remains on the local Red Cross board.
“So, I’ve not dropped out of the picture completely,” Poole said. “I’m sort of a political junkie, and I’ll continue to be involved.”
He said he’ll be as supportive of the school board’s work as he could because he knows there are a lot of people who criticize the board and its decisions but “have no clue what you guys have to go through.”
Poole closed by saying, “I treasure my years as much as anything, right up with my military service. I put it right next to that. I just encourage you to keep your customers first — that’s the students and the parents — and do the best you can by them, and I know you’ll do a good job. Thank you.”
A statement by the district on its Facebook page said, “Mr. Poole has worked tirelessly to lead Stanly County School district through many changes to ensure our students have an environment that promotes excellence in education. Thank you for all you have accomplished and continue to do for our community! We appreciate your leadership. Well done!”