CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Delegate Tom Campbell, D-Greenbrier, will become the newest member of the state Board of Education, pending confirmation by the state Senate.Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin appointed Campbell, a former Education Committee chairman, on Monday effective immediately.Campbell, 51, is retiring from the Legislature after serving 16 years in the House of Delegates. He most recently served as the vice chairman of the House Finance Committee and also worked on the education subcommittee."I'm excited and grateful for this appointment. Education has become more of a passion of mine the more I've been around our young people. I want to make a difference in young people's lives, and ultimately the state as a whole, economically," Campbell said.
"We have great educators and great students, but we need to get deeper. We need to get more people educated and more people prepared for life when they leave their public education."I have talked to the board president [Wade Linger] briefly, but it sounds like the board is committed to having a vision to make that happen," he said.Campbell, an accountant and the chief financial officer of Carson Associates Inc., in Lewisburg, is replacing former board member Lowell Johnson, whose term expired Nov. 4.State Board of Education members serve nine-year terms.Campbell also represented West Virginia on the Southern Regional Education Board and has worked with the Read Aloud program for 15 years.Campbell enters the Board of Education at a controversial time. Since the board voted to fire state Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple last month, its members and their actions have been under fire.A sweeping efficiency audit of the public school system, now underway, has also been at the center of state education talk, with the board pushing for major changes to the system.The scrutiny is not a concern for Campbell though."I'm used to it. Being in the Legislature, you're used to working amid turmoil. These are some interesting times for West Virginia education, and I'm used to dealing with challenges," he said. "The whole board has to work together. There's got to be teamwork."I'm sure there will be disagreements, but having a chance to influence a child's education, well there's nothing more important than that," he said.Campbell, who received a bachelor of science degree in business administration from West Virginia University in 1983, hopes to focus his work on the board on getting more students prepared for college and the work force.
"I think West Virginia has made some great strides nationally in a lot of areas. Education is an area we can really help the state shine in," he said. "We don't just have challenges in the West Virginia school system -- it's a national challenge. I'm hoping we can lead the nation in this."It's a new day in education, not just with technology, but in households and in ways of life. I look forward to trying to help prepare students for life and to do not only what's good for them, but good for the state and good for the country," Campbell said. "I'm not saying that it's going to be easy, but I look forward to helping prepare young people for life."Tomblin released a statement Monday afternoon saying he's confident that Campbell's presence on the board will make a difference."The education of our young people is essential to West Virginia's future and remains one of my top priorities," Tomblin said. "I've worked with Tom for many years, and I'm pleased he will be joining the state Board of Education. I am confident, with his vast knowledge and experience, Tom will be a tremendous asset to our state board."Campbell plans to attend the Board of Education meeting in Lincoln County on Wednesday. The meeting is at Lincoln County High School in Hamlin at 10:30 a.m.Reach Mackenzie Mays at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4814.