McCray, Lennon to lead Board of Education

Three new members took their seats on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education Dec. 12. Mary T. McCray, an at-large representative who has led the Board since 2012, was re-elected chair. Rhonda Lennon, who represents District 1, was elected vice-chair.

New members Carol Sawyer, Margaret Marshall and Sean Strain won election Nov. 7 to the Board. They were sworn in by Carla N. Archie, superior court judge for District 26. Also sworn in were returning members Lennon, District 2 representative Thelma Byers-Bailey and District 3 representative Dr. Ruby M. Jones.

McCray was elected to the Board in November 2011, serving as vice chair for a year before being elected to the chair. She spent 34 years in public education as an elementary teacher and was active in teacher organizations, including leading the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Association of Educators as its first full-time president. She is a native of High Point and a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University.

Lennon has represented District 1 since 2009. A graduate of South Mecklenburg High, she holds an associate degree in nursing and a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Lennon is a registered nurse and works in healthcare. A resident of Cornelius, she has lived in Mecklenburg County since 1978.

Sawyer will represent District 4, the seat formerly held by Tom Tate. She holds master's degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and George Washington University, and earned her bachelor's degree in psychology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She has served as director of exhibits and planning at the Museum of Life and Science and as a consultant for nonprofit organizations. Sawyer previously served on the Board of Education's Equity Committee and is a co-founder of the advocacy organizations OneMECK and Mecklenburg ACTS. She and her husband, Tom Hanchett, have one adult daughter, who is a graduate of East Mecklenburg High School.

Marshall will represent District 5, the seat formerly held by Eric C. Davis. A native of Lexington, North Carolina, she graduated from Wake Forest University with a bachelor's degree in accounting. She began her career as a CPA with Ernst & Whinney in Raleigh before moving to Charlotte in 1986 to work with the John Crosland Company, Centex Homes and Crosland Erwin Associates. Marshall has served as PTA president of AG Middle and Myers Park High School, and was a founding board member of the Myers Park High School Foundation. She has also served on the board of the East Mecklenburg High School Foundation and the YMCA's Community Impact Committee, where she led the task force to create the Howard Levine Early Childhood Development Center with the Renaissance West Community Initiative.  She has tutored in math at several CMS elementary schools and has been active in community organizations. She and her husband Harrison Marshall have two daughters who are CMS graduates.

Strain will represent District 6, the seat formerly held by Paul Bailey. Strain was raised as a military dependent and attended public schools. A business and systems consultant with Perficient, he has particular interest in the use of metrics and data analysis. He graduated from Virginia Tech with a bachelor's degree in computer engineering. Previously, Strain served for three years as a School Leadership Team member at Crestdale Middle. He currently serves on four nonprofit executive boards and advisory committees in Mecklenburg County. Strain is married with four children who are enrolled in CMS schools.

Tiana Justice, a senior at eLearning Virtual Academy, will serve as student representative on the Board of Education. Student representatives are chosen by the Superintendent's Student Advisory Council and serve a one-year term. Justice is the second student to serve on the Board. She is one of four children – she has a brother and two sisters – and her interests include sports and photography. She attended Nathaniel Alexander Elementary, Piedmont IB, James Martin and Ridge Road middle schools and Mallard Creek High. She hopes to pursue a career in filmmaking.