CHARLOTTE – Mary McCray and Elise Dashew have noticed something peculiar about the three new members of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education.
The first letter of each of their names (Carol Sawyer, Margaret Marshall and Sean Strain) spell out the district initials of CMS.
“There’s something providential about that,” Dashew said after district representatives took the oath of office Dec. 11.
Marshall replaced Eric Davis to represent District 5, an area consisting of several south Charlotte schools. Marshall said she intends to make schools stronger and better able to meet student needs.
“There are many stakeholders, opinions and considerations that will be part of any action this body takes,” Marshall said. “To my colleagues and to the community, I will listen broadly and then we’re going to make some decisions that will expand opportunities for our students and our schools.”
She also took time to recognize Myers Park High School IB for celebrating 25 years of global education, as well as thank district and parent leaders for their work in school assignment transition work.
Strain said he was looking forward to working with community and elected leaders in his district, which includes south Charlotte, Pineville, Matthews and Mint Hill.
Strain replaces Paul Bailey, who chose to run for mayor of Matthews. In his parting words to the board, Mayor Bailey mentioned the work they did with magnet schools, student assignment and transportation zones.
“We’re in a position where we can start building some equity in different parts of the county to ensure all kids have an opportunity that is equivalent for their education,” Bailey said. “But there’s still a lot of kids who need other issues addressed, those are the ones my heart bleeds for.”
Mary McCray will continue chairing the board, while Rhonda Lennon will take over for Elise Dashew as vice chair. Dashew said she’s looking forward to spending more time with family this term.
Lennon said she looks forward to remaining a “committed board of communicators with transparent leadership and a commitment from every child.”
About the new board members
• District 4 – Carol Sawyer holds master’s degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and George Washington University and earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She has served as director of exhibits and planning at the Museum of Life and Science and as a consultant for nonprofits. Sawyer served on the Board of Education’s Equity Committee and is a co-founder of the advocacy organizations OneMECK and Mecklenburg ACTS. She and her husband, Tom Hanchett, have one adult daughter, who is a graduate of East Mecklenburg High School.
• District 5 – Margaret Marshall, native of Lexington, graduated from Wake Forest University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. She began her career as a CPA with Ernst & Whinney in Raleigh before moving to Charlotte in 1986 to work with the John Crosland Company, Centex Homes and Crosland Erwin Associates. Marshall has served as PTA president of AG Middle and Myers Park High School, and was a founding board member of the Myers Park High School Foundation.
• District 6 – Sean Strain was raised as a military dependent and attended public schools. A business and systems consultant with Perficient, he has particular interest in the use of metrics and data analysis. He graduated from Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering. Previously, Strain served for three years as a School Leadership Team member at Crestdale Middle. He serves on four nonprofit boards and advisory committees in Mecklenburg County. Strain is married with four children enrolled in CMS schools.