MONROE – Christina Helms cried when summing up her work on the Union County Public Schools Board of Education.
Helms served as an at-large member for eight years. She chose not to run for a third term this year. Nov. 5 marked her last meeting.
“Many people who sit on the outside don’t realize the commitment of time and energy that goes into this full-time job,” Helms said. “It is a full-time job.”
Helms thanked her husband and her son for their patience and understanding of the work it takes to serve on the board. She told UCPS staff, teachers, school resource officers and principals past and present they left a mark on her heart and life.
During her eight years on the board, UCPS began $54 million in construction projects and welcomed Andrew Houlihan as superintendent.
Houlihan described Helms as an outstanding board member. He thanked Helms for her service, support and dedication.
“You have always put our students and staff as your first priority,” Houlihan told her.
Melissa Merrill, who chairs the school board, said Helms worked on various committees and served as a liaison to the Fairview and Unionville communities. She described Helms as one of the board’s strongest assets when it comes to appeals.
She recalled when Helms said in 2012 how she wanted to help ensure children have the best opportunities to receive the highest quality education possible while backing teachers to provide superior education.
“You did exactly what you said you were going to do and better,” Merrell told Helms. “So job well done and mission complete.”
School board members went down the line telling Helms how they’d miss her, including those whom she helped appoint to vacant seats like Todd Price and the Rev. Jimmy Bention Sr.
Bention told Helms that her presence, as well as her smile and sternness, will be missed.
Helms had a message for the present and future board members.
“Never forget why you wanted to sit on this dais,” she said. “Remember the Lord has given you two ears to hear and one mouth to speak, so you should listen twice as much as you speak.”
She described Union County Public Schools as a leader in the state. She encouraged board members to listen to the staff and take what they say into consideration. She pressed board members to continue fighting for teachers and students for what they deserve, not necessarily what the leaders at the local or state levels are willing to give.
“Fall in love with your passion and the purpose of this board,” she said. “Once you do this, this will be one of the greatest experiences of your life. I know that I’m going to forever be grateful that I had this privilege.”