New leader, same unwillingness from citizens

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 8, 2008

Reporters often have an advantage over typical citizens as it is our job to cover public events and concerns, so when it comes to hearing about issues and meeting new leaders we’re often on the frontline.

On Monday I attended a public reception held at Central Elementary School in honor of Dr. Eric Bracy, the new Superintendent for Northampton County Schools.

Bracy’s family roots happen to run deep in Northampton County and several of the individuals I spoke to at the reception looked at the new superintendent as a breath of fresh air.

For most of them the change in leadership is a signal that things are headed in a different direction for their school system.

The reception was informal and refreshments were served. Dr. Bracy had positioned himself in the middle of the foyer of the school in order to mingle among the attendees.

I had met Dr. Bracy one or two times before this reception and I was interested in covering this event, not so much to converse with the man himself, but to see what the public at large thought of their new superintendent of schools.

However, in the crowd of well wishers, I had a hard time finding that community angle.

I spoke to teachers, administrators and local government leaders about Dr. Bracy, but to be honest, each of those groups are going to have cordial things to say as Bracy is either their boss or someone they have to work closely with in the future.

Not that I was fishing for negative comments on Bracy, but I wanted to hear more impromptu quotes from those who had just met their new schools leader and, perhaps, had a little less bias opinion.

I did not want to hear from those who work for Bracy, but rather from those whose children Bracy will serve and those who do not have to put on a political face.

At the reception I was able to speak with one person from within a community. She described herself as an advocate for Northampton County, but to me she was the next best thing next to a parent of child who attends a school in the county.

The woman was happy to speak about her passion for the area she lives in and pointed out as a taxpaying citizen of the county, she made it a point to meet Bracy.

In that sentence she defined my frustrations with those who complain about their leadership, but do nothing about it to voice their opinions and attempt to change the situation.

Go ahead call me over enthusiastic, sanguine, a girl with rosy prim glasses on, but when did we forget government and public education officials work for us?

I’m assuming the majority of you reading this are thinking (or possibly saying out loud), “But, they don’t listen.”

Of course they don’t, because we don’t make them listen. We don’t make that effort to meet them at…oh, let’s say, a public reception. We make no attempt to actually work with the people who represent us.

One of the principles laid out by Dr. Bracy immediately was the focus on “customer service,” meaning he will be making an effort to serve you

So why don’t you take him up on it, Northampton County? Meet him halfway and let him know who you are and what your concerns are.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions or call (252) 332-7209.