Woodbury not seeking re-election in 2022

Malishai Woodbury is the first African American to serve as chair of WS/FCS Board of Education.

Woodbury not seeking re-election in 2022
December 17
10:29 2021

Malishai Woodbury is the first African American to serve as chair of WS/FCS Board of Education 

After serving as chair of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Board of Education for the past three years, Malishai Woodbury has announced that she will not seek re-election in 2022. Woodbury is the first African American to serve as board chair. 

While discussing her decision not to run earlier this week, Woodbury said she gave it a lot of thought, but felt it was the right decision. “Ultimately for me, my decision to not seek re-election is more of a personal choice more than anything else,” Woodbury said. 

Woodbury was elected to the board in 2018 to serve as a representative for District I, which represents voters within the city limits, as opposed to District 2, which represents voters who live outside the city limits. Although it wasn’t in her plans to serve as chair, when she was recommended by her peers, Woodbury said she felt like she was “called to do the work.” She said, “It has been a privilege and an honor to be the first African American to serve in that capacity. 

“…I would always ask myself how did this land on me? Why not Vic Johnson? Why not Walter Marshall? Geneva Brown? How did it land with me? I asked myself that 1,000 times knowing the legacy of those who have lived in our community and met the challenge to serve. So, it really has been my greatest honor and privilege to serve as the first African American person to chair this school board.”

Despite having to lead the board through some hard times, including a pandemic and replacing two superintendents, on top of the struggles school districts across the state are facing, Woodbury stood strong. She said she couldn’t have done it without having faith in God and support from the board and district staff. Woodbury also credited the NC Caucus of Black School Board Members for their support. 

“This board has had its challenges definitely. I think the community knows that. But I can really say that this board including whatever superintendent was at bat with us, helped me to stay constant. Even when there were stressful times, I could always count on this board to help us get through the next challenge,” she said. “I would be less than authentic if I didn’t let the community know how critical it is to get those five votes and support to make change happen.” 

One of Woodbury’s goals when she was elected was to make policy changes that impact students and she was able to do that. Woodbury was instrumental in the implementation of the district’s first Equity Policy, which was adopted on Jan. 28, 2020.  It led to other policies. Woodbury also mentioned that the board is currently working on making changes to the district’s discipline and school choice policies. 

“The Equity Policy was very important to this board and I think that foundation enabled us to really think critically through the lens of equity, which led to the African American and Multi-Cultural Infusion Curriculum Policy,” Woodbury said. “We’ve also been readjusting our discipline policy, particularly with the disproportionality of African American males and minority students being disciplined more than any other group.”

Long before she was elected to the board, Woodbury was known as an advocate for education as a member of the Carver High School Alumni Association and several grassroots organizations in the area.

In addition to her grassroots work, Woodbury has also served as project coordinator for the Guilford County School System and she has more than 20 years of experience in secondary and higher education. 

Woodbury currently serves as an instructor of history at N.C. A&T State University and is scheduled to receive her doctorate in February.  She is also certified as a Priority School Leader though the Principal Executive Program of the Kenan-Flagler Business School and secretary of the NC Caucus of Black School Board Members.

Although she will no longer serve the community as a member of the board of education, Woodbury said her work will continue. “I’m going to continue to serve in the community and in other capacities and other ways,” she said.

When asked about the future of the district, Woodbury said the current board has made necessary steps to help future board members lead the district in the right direction. She said the strategic plan which focuses on student achievement, equity and access, community engagement, human resource development and climate and safety should serve as a foundation for the future. “I think the future always has great potential particularly because it can be shaped,” Woodbury said. 

“This board and the superintendent’s office have established a strategic plan, with clear goals.  So, with that in place, that’s the foundation. Things aren’t always going to be perfectly executed but with that kind of basic infrastructure I think any school board, any superintendent can move the district forward making adjustments as needed,” Woodbury continued. “I don’t believe that any one school board is the magic pill to make everything absolutely right. That’s definitely what this experience has taught me, but I do believe as long as there are some strong foundational components put in place then the future looks very bright.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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