School board says farewell to colleagues, administrator

Jun. 26, 2014 @ 09:49 PM

Rarely is Jim Key at a loss for words.
But the school districts area superintendent for high schools, who is retiring at the end of the month, was rendered nearly speechless Thursday after being presented with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, one of the most prestigious awards given by the governor of North Carolina.
“I was in shock, but not quite speechless, but that was a really unbelievable honor and I really appreciate that,” Key said later during the school board’s monthly business meeting.
Key is retiring after 30 years of service to Durham Public Schools. He’s a former principal, teacher and coach.
“One of our legendary leaders is retiring and we could not let him leave without giving him the Order of the Long Leaf Pine,” said Stacey Wilson-Norman, deputy superintendent for academic services, who surprised Key with the award.
Thursday’s meeting also marked the end of service on the school board for Nancy Cox, Omega Curtis Parker and Fredrick Davis.
Cox and Davis did not seek re-election in last month’s school board election and Parker lost her re-election bid.
A trio of new board members – Sendolo Diaminah, Mike Lee and Matt Sears – will be sworn in July 7 during the board’s organizational meeting.
School board Chairwoman Heidi Carter said Davis taught the board the importance of “running an efficient meeting” and that a “winning smile” had the power to ease board tensions and mend relationships.
Davis said he would continue to pray for the board and Durham Public Schools, but will “no longer be an engaged politician.”
“I look forward now to being a dad, husband and pastor,” said Davis, the pastor to First Calvary Baptist Church since June 1991.
While Cox is leaving the board, her mind will remain focused on educational issues.
Cox, noted for her legislative advocacy and support of public schools, said she will enroll at N.C. Central University to pursue a degree in school administration in the hopes of one day becoming a principal.
“I’ve been a classroom teacher, did this board thing and now I’m looking forward to potentially being a principal,” Cox said.
Parker, who Carter contends has visited the most school and attended the most school functions, said her work for Durham Public Schools is far from over.
“There is a lot of work that needs to be done and I stand ready to do it,” Parker said. “But as far as the past eight years, all I can say is may the work I’ve done speak for me.”
Carter also thanked Interim Superintendent Hugh Osteen for serving in that role since December when former superintendent Eric Becoats resigned amid criticism of his management of school resources.
The board has hired Bert L’Homme, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Washington, to be the next superintendent of Durham Public Schools.
L’Homme, a former DPS administrator, will begin work here July 14.
His contract extends to June 30, 2018.