Pittman, Benjamin named to leadership roles on School Board

By: Adrienne Wallace | Email: Click Here
Posted: February 9, 2020 | 1:30 p.m. 

DINWIDDIE – At the first meeting of the year, the School Board appointed its new leadership for 2020.

After serving a year as the chairwoman, Sherilyn H. Merritt made the first motion to recommend Barbara T. Pittman as the new chair.

Her nomination passed unanimously.

Pittman began her term on the Dinwiddie County School Board in 2012. She is a retired educator with 38 years of service to Dinwiddie County in the capacity of teaching, coaching, guidance counselor, and administration. She served as Principal of both Dinwiddie Middle School and Dinwiddie High School before retiring in 2010.

Mary Mabry Benjamin, a native of Dinwiddie, received a unanimous vote to serve as vice-chair. She is a graduate of Southside High School, Virginia State College (now University) where she received a B.S. Degree in Food and Nutrition, and the University of Phoenix where she received a Master’s Degree in Organizational Management. In 2005, she retired from the Philadelphia School District with 35 years of service.

Last week, the Dinwiddie School Board, seen here during their swearing in ceremony in December, voted to name longtime members Barbara Pittman (middle) chairman and Mary Benjamin (second from right) as vice-chair for the 2020 calendar year. (Adrienne Wallace)

Prior to being elected to the Dinwiddie County School Board in 2015, Benjamin served on its Electoral Board.

After the reorganization portion of the meeting, both Pittman and Benjamin had to face several pending issues including the upcoming budget and capital improvements plan.

Among her goals for the coming year and future, Pittman would like to address the issue of salaries noting there is a teacher shortage due to salaries.

While she understood the Capital Improvements Plan must be addressed, the newly appointed chair said. “The big elephant in the room is teacher salaries.”

She said that teachers who serve above 20 years are still only making below $60,000, which she said would be unheard of in manufacturing and industrial jobs at plants in the Tri-Cities area.

Fewer people are choosing the career field due to that, as well as all of the requirements of being a teacher, from a four-year degree to continuing education that is paid out-of-pocket by the individual.

Pittman would like to see change here and across the state that is below the average in educator salaries.

Benjamin wants to increase parental and community involvement, continue to strengthen board relations with other localities, “and partner with surrounding universities to recruit qualified teachers. Recruiting teachers is my number one priority.”

She said, “the greatest challenge facing the education system in Dinwiddie today is the lack of accessibility of the internet in all communities.  Addressing this challenge requires continuous lobbying at the General Assembly and our local governing board.”

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