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Council honored at last meeting as school board chairwoman

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Mildred Council, Board of Education Chair, District 2, tours the new Early College High School at Pitt Community College in August.

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By Amber Revels-Stocks
The Times-Leader

Friday, November 9, 2018

The Pitt County Board of Education meeting Monday was bittersweet as the board celebrated its chairwoman at her last meeting.

Mildred Council served on the board for six years, but did not run for re-election this year. Monday’s meeting marked the end of a 28-year career in politics.

“This past Saturday, a group of us reflected on the six historically black high schools that still have alumni groups in Pitt County,” Council said. “I graduated from Bethel Union, which is now North Pitt High School.

“It has been a blessing to serve, she said. “Having been a part of (the segregated) Bethel Union and to now serve as the chair of the Pitt County Board of Education is a blessing. It has not always been like that. We have made some strides, but we have to continue to work forward.”

She asked the board to remember to support all the schools of Pitt County, not just the high-performing ones.

“All of our schools in Pitt County are shining stars. It’s up to the board, the educators, the parents and the whole community to make sure that we continue to grow and to be excellent,” Council said.

The school board thanked Council for her dedication and service over the years.

“There’s nobody who cares more about kids, who cares more about our schools than Mildred,” said Vice Chairwoman Anna Barrett Smith. “Your heart is evident in everything you do. You set the bar high for service.”

“I may have a whole other lifetime of service before I even catch where you are now in your public service,” said board member Betsy Flanagan. “Not just on this board or on the (Greenville) City Council. I can’t even count the number of organizations and individuals that Mildred advocates for. Thank you for your impact on our community.”

School board members Melinda Fagundus and Caroline Doherty both thanked Council for her help in guiding them as new school board members.

“Coming in as a new board member, you’ve been my friend and leader. Thank you so much for being supportive of me as a new person on the board,” Fagundus said. “We’re both 4-H people, too, so it’s been nice to share our experiences (with the program).”

“Your love of children and your dedication to what it takes to support them is truly exemplary,” Doherty said. “It’s been an honor to work with you. Thank you for taking me under your wing.”

Superintendent Dr. Ethan Lenker thanked Council for her service as did the rest of the board of education.

“Thank you for chairing this board,” said school board member Robert Moore. “Thank you, thank you for all that you’ve done.”

Board member Benjie Forrest also thanked Council for her work as chairwoman.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with you on the board, Mildred, for all these years,” Forrest said. 

While Monday marked the end of Council’s tenure on the school board, it did not mark the end of her service.

“I won’t stop working with the community,” she said. “It just won’t be in an elected capacity right now.”

She also thanked the board and the senior staff for their support over the years.

“As Robert (Moore) said, the staff is the ship that makes things happen,” Council said. “Thank you for all you’ve done to make Pitt County Schools what it is today.”

Council is known for wearing large flowers on her left shoulder. In her honor, every member of the school board, members of the senior staff and the board secretary wore fake flowers to Monday night’s meeting.

“I know this isn’t the last we’ve seen of you,” school board member Worth Forbes said. “I’m sure you’ll be up here during public expression, and we’re going to hold you to the three minutes (time limit).”

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