NASD school board nominees down to 5

Published 1:02 am Tuesday, January 12, 2016

NATCHEZ — Later this month, the Adams County Board of Supervisors will start interviewing candidates for a position on the Natchez-Adams School District Board of Trustees.

Six candidates for the position were proposed at the supervisors’ meeting Jan. 4. Those nominated were Jerry Ford, Clarena Jones, Dr. Joey Mitchell, Nichelle Payne, Barney Schoby Jr. and Phillip West.

The chosen candidate would replace current appointee and NASD board president Tim Blalock, who was not nominated. His term expires Feb. 1.

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Ford withdrew his name from consideration, saying it would be too much in addition to taking a class for his counseling degree and working at the Natchez Police Department.

The board plans to interview the rest of the candidates later this month.

Clarena Jones

Jones, a graduate of Mississippi Valley State University and the University of Houston, was nominated by District 5 Supervisor Calvin Butler.

After 40 years teaching, Jones now substitutes for NASD. Her nomination came as something of a surprise, but not an unwelcome one.

“I’m glad that I am nominated because I feel that I can make a difference,” Jones said.

If chosen, Jones hopes she and the rest of the board can work together with the superintendent to try and bring about some new techniques and strategies to improve test scores and communication with the community.

Dr. Joey Mitchell

The Alcorn Director of Career Services was nominated by District 4 Supervisor Rickey Gray. Mitchell has lived in Natchez since he was 6 and attended NASD schools.

“I’m a product of this community. I believe that all skills, education and experiences are blessings,” Mitchell said. “Blessings are given to you for the benefit of others, and I want to use my knowledge, skills and abilities for the benefit of my community and the people within it.”

Mitchell said he wants to fix issues NASD is facing, such as accountability, teacher shortages and the morale of the community and school district, using his experience in areas including kindergarten through high school education, higher education and hosting teacher recruitment fairs.

Nichelle Payne

Payne, a Natchez resident and Concordia Parish School District guidance counselor, was nominated by Gray. Payne has attended both Southern University in Baton Rouge where she received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and Alcorn State University for her double master’s degree in elementary education and guidance education.

Payne said she’s interested in the position because she wants to make things better for students and those who work within the school system, as well as to be a voice for the people.

It’s humbling, Payne said, to be nominated, and she will do her best if chosen.

“If I do something I’m going to put my whole self into it and make sure that it’s done right,” Payne said.

Barney Schoby Jr.

District 2 Supervisor David Carter put forth Schoby’s name.

Schoby has worked for the National Park Service for approximately five years. Schoby received a bachelor of arts in history and master of education in workforce education from Alcorn.

Schoby said community members initially reached out to him to ask if he would be interested. Although Schoby said he supports an elected school board, if he had the opportunity to make change, he would take it.

Some areas Schoby said he felt needed work are test scores, areas of math and science and leadership issues. Schoby said he also wants to work with parents, teachers, administrators and the community to improve morale if appointed.

“As of now, we’re in something of a quagmire when it comes to morale,” Schoby said.

Phillip West

West was nominated by Gray. In the past, West has served Natchez as county supervisor, state representative and mayor of Natchez. He was also one of the plaintiffs in the 1980s case that ultimately led to the reorganization of schools from neighborhood to age-based schools. The order was lifted in 2012.

Five or six years ago, West said he expressed an interest in serving, which is why he thinks he was nominated. West said he had an interest in improving the area’s education quality.

“Education is directly connected to quality of life in this community,” West said.

The better education that’s available, the better opportunities for community and economic development, West said. If chosen, West said he wants to help improve public education.