Teachers Serve As Elected Officials

Two teachers at Chatham High School serve as elected officials in two local towns in Pittsylvania County.

The earth science teacher, Gary Poindexter, serves as the mayor of Hurt. “I have enjoyed this office as much as anything I’ve done in 30 years. It’s all about the people and helping our town move forward,” Poindexter said.

“Originally, my wife inspired me to run for Town Council in 2008. My wife was on council for three terms, also, before I knew her. I almost laughed at first, but then I decided to try and liked it. Then in 2012, the mayor retired, and I decided to run,” Poindexter said.

“Being mayor means a big deal to me, and the sense that this position belongs to me and my being able to make a difference for the better for my community,” Poindexter said.

“I am in the [mayoral] office two days a week after school depending on what’s happening,” Poindexter said; consequently, the mayoral job does not consume too much of his time.  “The town council generally meets once a month. I meet several times since I am the mayor. There is no set pattern for this,” Poindexter states.

“Decision-making can be a two edged sword . It can be humbling because it carries heavy responsibility for the outcome of my decisions. No matter who you are, you are human and aren’t gonna get it right every time,” Poindexter said.

“The time management of being mayor and teacher can be challenging at certain times of the year. It requires balance and careful planning,” Poindexter said.

Janet Bishop, the journalism and English 9 teacher, serves as a member of town council for Chatham. “I very much enjoy being on the Chatham Town Council. I love the Town of Chatham, have lived here my entire life, and I like the feeling that I’m making a difference and serving my community,” Bishop said. “I also enjoy that our council operates from an apolitical position; we work together to come to a consensus for what’s best for all of us, not according to party lines; because we all live in the same community, we try to find common ground and usually do.”

“I was inspired to run for town council by members of my community. I grew up watching people that I knew serve their community and take an interest in making life better and more efficient; that appealed to me, and so, when my children left home, I decided to give it a try. I’m so glad I did,” Bishop said.

“It is my pleasure to serve on council. This is my eighth year, and I am up for re-election this fall,” Bishop said.

“I attend a Town Council meeting each month on the second Monday. Our mayor attends as well as seven other members,” Bishop explains. “I particularly enjoy those meetings when students from Mr. Roger Maxfield’s government classes attend. I enjoy having community members taking an interest in the workings of the t0wn.

“I am very busy with my teaching career and my service to the town, but I like it that way. I enjoy the problem solving on council; it’s very different from my work as a teacher,” Bishop said. “The time spent is very different. I am immersed in the school day with all its challenges for eight hours. On council, however,  I go to committee meetings and official meetings; the thinking and participation and problem solving are very different,” Bishop said. “With council, although it takes time to get things done, the results are concrete and we can visibly see solid changes and improvements. With teaching, it may be years and years before we teachers can see that we have actually made a positive difference.”