Longtime Bradley County Board of Education member Troy Weathers was honored for his time on the board at its meeting Thursday night.
Weathers, who lost his bid for re-election as the 4th District representative on Aug. 7, has served on the board for 16 years — since 1998.
Board Chair Vicki Beaty and Director of Schools Johnny McDaniel presented him with a plaque to acknowledge his accomplishments as part of the board, setting off a round of compliments from other board members and letting him take a walk down Memory Lane.
“We acknowledge your commitment and contributions to students and to teachers and to the school system,” Beaty said while presenting Weathers with the plaque.
Listing several projects with which Weathers has been involved over the years, McDaniel thanked him for his efforts.
“I just want to say thank you for all the support — the love — you’ve poured on the students and teachers,” McDaniel said. “Your passion for education was always evident in the work you’ve done.”
Weathers spoke about his experiences on the board, noting that he has seen both support and opposition along the way.
He recounted his involvement in seeing projects like the construction of Waterville Community Elementary School, Park View Elementary School and Walker Valley High School come to fruition. He described the efforts made to add on to other elementary schools and renovate Ocoee Middle School.
Also during his time in office, the school system started Big City University, an after-school program where at-risk children can receive tutoring.
Weathers described his 16 years as a span of time that included many ups and downs.
“In life, you’re going to make some people happy,” Weathers said. “Some people aren’t going to like you because you did what was right for education. I’m OK with that.”
However, he said what inspired him to run in the first place was his personal experiences as a child.
Having grown up in East Cleveland, Weathers said he came from a family that was “as poor as dirt,” and his parents’ educational experiences meant he was not able to receive much help outside of school.
He said he lived in a house that only had working heat on one side, and a teacher who learned of his situation made a positive and permanent impact on his life when she took money from her own purse and purchased long johns for him and his twin brother.
“A teacher showed love to me and made a difference in my life,” Weathers said. “That’s why I have the passion that I have for teachers and students. I don’t really care for the politics of it.”
Even though he will no longer serve on the county school board, he said he will continue to “fight” for the interests of students and teachers.
He also took the opportunity to encourage teachers to remember why they started teaching in the first place. He said the core of what a teacher does should be to help students, regardless of the standards and tests that come their way.
“Don’t forget what your calling was,” Weathers said. “Don’t let the politics of this board or this county influence what you do. ... With some little snotty-nosed kid like me, you might say something someday that will change their life. You might do something that will change their life. I believe you will, because you’re life-changers.”
Calling him “a dear friend,” board member Rodney Dillard complimented Weathers’ “heart for the children” before making a comment about his list of accomplishments that elicited laughter from many at the meeting, including Weathers himself.
“I wrote some stuff down about your accomplishments,” Dillard said. “But you actually bragged on yourself.”
Sixth District board member Christy Critchfield described her experience of becoming a school board member before noting Weather played an important part in her realizing the importance of making a concerted effort to visit and listen to those at the schools in her district.
One thing that struck her about Weathers’ reputation, she said, was that even those in her district knew of his good reputation and would talk about what he had been doing. Critchfield said that was a testament to how well he did his job.
First District board member Chris Turner said he has often disagreed with Weathers’ views, but he respected how he built relationships with students, parents and teachers in the school system. Both men attended a high school graduation this spring, and Turner said Weathers was there shaking hands with and high-fiving students.
“I know that he will be missed,” Turner said.
Charlie Rose of the 7th District said he appreciated what Weathers accomplished and respected how he always fought to get what he felt was best for the school system.
Board Vice-Chairman Nicholas Lillios was not present at the meeting.
Newly elected board member Dianna Calfee is set to take Weathers’ 4th District seat after being sworn in at the next county school board meeting on Sept. 11. At that time, Beaty and Critchfield will also be sworn in again, after having won their bids for re-election.