CHS senior Samantha Douglas new student voice on city school board
by DELANEY WALKER, Banner Staff Writer
Jun 10, 2013 | 584 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Samantha Douglas, Cleveland High senior, will be the new student representative on the Cleveland Board of Education — and she is eager to start the job.

She first heard about the position in Eric Phillips’ Leadership I class. The young sophomore was intrigued by the job, but did not feel she was suited for the role.

It was already a huge leap for the shy student to be in a class about standing out to lead others.

Douglas may not have even thought to join the leadership courses if not for Phillips. She took his beginner’s volleyball course where, “Apparently, he saw a leader in me.”

The classes helped her blossom into a confident leader around Cleveland High. She joined several extracurricular activities including the National Honor Society, the Science Olympiad team, the Environmental Club and student government.

Others began to take notice of the change in the young woman.

“People always say, ‘Samantha, after taking the leadership class you’ve grown so much,’” she recalled. “I think that is because coach Phillips pushes you to some kind of weird degree so you have to break out of your shell.”

From requesting students to sign a petition to running for leadership roles, she has continued to cast off her shell.

She said being the student representative is another challenge for her to tackle.

The requirements to be considered for the position included getting 100 student signatures, filling out an application and writing an essay on why she would be a good choice.

Douglas said she hopes to bring a new perspective to the school board. She will share her opinions as well as seek out those of fellow students.

“… I basically know everybody at school,” she said. “I don’t really care [about traditional cliques], I will talk to everybody. I have a wide perspective of everyone, not just select groups.”

Student representatives do not have a vote on the school board. Their role is to give board members a student’s perspective. They also provide up-to-date information on the high school.

An introduction between Douglas and the school board will occur during June’s meeting.

“I think it is going to be intimidating and stuff, but it will be OK,” she said. “They all seem really nice and Dr. (Martin) Ringstaff (city schools director) is amazing and funny, so why not?”

She takes comfort in knowing Jasmine Martin, the previous student representative, really enjoyed her time on the board. She also sees this role as another step toward being a top-notch leader.

One of her most admired leaders is Phillips. The coach and leadership teacher has had a huge impact on Samantha during her high school career.

“I want to be a person someone admires, because I admire so many people and I want to be like them. I want to be a leader,” she said. “A leader is someone who isn’t afraid to go down the path less traveled. They don’t follow everyone else in a single line.”

With graduation a year away, she is considering her post-high school options. Two choices on the table are either the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., or pursuing a nursing degree at the University of Tennessee.

The young leader is not sure what path she will choose, but one thing is certain. Douglas is determined to look back on her decisions, like pursuing the student representative role, with satisfaction.

Like she said, “If I were to look back in 10 years, would I regret it? If you are going to regret something in the future, there is no reason to do it now.”