Surry School Board Carsley District candidate profile: Sue Fibish

Published 10:45 am Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Editor’s note: Sue Fibish is running against Roxanne Marr-Shears for the Carsley District seat on Surry County’s School Board. The Smithfield Times sent the following questionnaire to both candidates.

Age: 68 years old

Occupation: Neuroscience Coordinator, RN,MSN, Substitute Nurse for Surry Schools

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Prior elected offices Held: none

1. Can you briefly summarize why you decided to run for School Board?

My decision to run as a member of the School Board is based on my desire to serve my community. The school board is a very powerful governing body, as it makes decisions that will impact our students, teachers, parents, and community. I believe I can contribute my unique skills as a Registered Nurse to collaborate and work as a team with other board members making decisions for the student’s future.

2. What should the school board’s top priority be right now? 

The top priority at Surry Schools is and should always be student achievement. This can be accomplished by ensuring the teachers have what is needed to help the student be successful in learning. The concern that our students continue to suffer from “learning loss” caused from remote teaching during COVID is real, as evidenced in the SOL scores. Surry Schools have recognized this and are focused on reading, math, and absenteeism. Another priority is engaging the parents and partnering with the community. Each board member represents a district. Understanding our districts and not just a passion for public education will help board members be successful with parent engagement and community partnership which will benefit our students. 

3. Should the pre-Labor Day start approved by the school board earlier this year remain in place for 2024? Why or why not? 

The law in 1986 called the “Kings Dominion Law,” named for the park in Northern Virginia, prohibited schools from opening before Labor day for the reason of tourism, according to the online article King’s Dominion Law – Schools, Tourism, and the Dillon Rule in Virginia,  This law was repealed in 2019, but not all the schools changed their practices at that time.

Yes, we should continue the pre-Labor Day start approved by our school board. I believe this change will be beneficial as many of the schools we interact with are on this schedule, i.e., the Regional Governor’s School and special needs schools. It is particularly advantageous for those wanting extra time to prepare for Advanced Placement tests and college entrance exams. It also allows athletic departments to have a longer training period.

4. What more can Surry County Public school do to attract and retain quality teachers?

I have worked as a substitute school nurse for the past three years in the Surry Schools. As an employee, I can testify that Surry has good schools and quality teachers. It would be my goal to support, and thus retain, the great teachers we already have. A positive teaching environment that encourages open dialogue, creative solutions, and teamwork is key. In my conversations with teachers, it seems most are burdened by all the additional responsibilities they must carry. One teacher told me, “We have to be teachers, parents, counselors, nurses, coaches, IT experts, data analysts and secretaries.” Others are frustrated by the discrepancy in what they are being paid and what the schools publicize they are being paid.  

My first solution to making sure we retain quality teachers is by implementing exit interviews and tracking the reasons teachers leave. 

5. Should Surry County Public Schools adopt the new transgender student model policies of Gov. Glenn Younkin’s administration released earlier this year? Why or Why not.

The model policies were adopted on Sept. 12.  Reviewing the policy, which is now law, I agree that this adoption was appropriate. We need to empower parents by giving them back their rights to make decisions with respect to their child(ren). Schools who hide a child’s gender identity and social transition from parents can have disastrous consequences. I agree with respect to all students, therefore, providing accommodations to those students who have transitioned, and not allowing the restroom or dressing rooms to be used by the transitioned gender. I agree minors must be referred to by their names/gender on official records unless the parent approves, in writing, something else. Surry has an anti-bully campaign. Bullying still happens to students who are different. Schools have registered nurses who can work with other health care professionals and community members to support the mental wellbeing of all students.       

6. What more can be done at the school division level to keep students safe from shootings?

Entering into the main entrance of any of the three Surry schools is not possible. Each visitor must state who they are and their reason for being there before they can enter. If there was a shooting, it would be from a person who gained entrance through an external door or a person already in the building. Working in the hospital, we have been taught to get out of the building, if possible, or hide, barricade and fight. Lockdown practices that teach us just to hide and be quiet are not enough, as It teaches the student to be a victim. It’s easy to be shot if the student is just hiding under a desk.  The students need to learn a life skill, just like we do for fire drills and other natural disasters. There are several programs that teach how to survive a shooting that would benefit all schools.