Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of candidate profiles for the May 6 primary election to be published between now and April 30 in The Daily Journal.
Irene Aiken said her experience in unique areas of education will be useful to the students and teachers in Richmond County.
Aiken, 48, of Rockingham, is seeking re-election to the Richmond County Board of Education. The seat is a four-year term and the salary pays $225 per month. Four seats will be coming open this year.
Aiken will be going up against incumbents Joe Richardson and Pamela Easterling as well as challengers T.K. Thrower, Bobbie Sue Ormsby, Dewey Brower and Don Greene.
Early voting for the primary election starts Thursday and will last until 1 p.m. on May 3. Election day for the primary will be May 6. The primary election is the only election for the school board.
Aiken, who has been on the board for one term, hopes to continue to serve the residents of Richmond County. She currently serves as a professor at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke to help teach current and future teachers of Richmond County.
“I bring my experience of having taught in the school and working in the education program at a college,” Aiken said. “I’ve seen it from both sides, and I know what students need to know when they go to college. I also have the unique perspective of having a child in the school system and understand the perspective of parents.”
While Aiken knows the importance of teachers in the education system, her main focus has always been the children in the county.
“I am an advocate for all students,” Aiken said. “We’ve got to give the students the best we can. I think as far as policy, we’re right on track, locally, with what needs to be done. Piece by piece, day by day, you try to make it better. I know we’ve made progress in our schools in the past four years.”
Regarding the $50,000 that Raider football coach Paul Hoggard and Richmond Senior High School Principal Keith McKenzie asked of county commissioners for a proposed youth football program, Aiken believes that academics come first.
“One of my big pushes in life is fitness,” Aiken said. “I’m always for students being involved in some form of physical activity to help in their growth and health and I think this program can provide that, but I think education should be above it. The state has really decreased the amount of money to schools. Hamlet has a youth football program and we should take advantage of what’s there.”