October 9 is deadline to apply for appointment
Alamance-Burlington school board members have received five applications so far for the vacant seat previously occupied by former four-term school board member Patsy Simpson, who resigned on April 23, shortly before she moved to Virginia.
During the public comments period of the school board’s meeting Monday night, a sixth prospective candidate, Avery Wagoner of Burlington, who is employed as an executive with Cary Oil, also announced his intent to submit an application for the seat. Wagoner came in fifth out of six candidates for three open seats in the November 2022 school board race, with 16,738 votes or 12.34 percent of the vote.
Following months of sporadic discussions – and disagreements between board members about whether to leave the seat vacant, or begin soliciting applications – school board members voted earlier this month to set October 9 as the deadline to apply for the vacant seat.
That vote setting the October 9 deadline also comes after numerous community members have urged the board for months to proceed with filling the open seat, with many expressing their desire to see a minority appointed to serve out the remainder of Simpson’s term, which expires in November 2024.
Specifically, school board members have heard repeated calls during the public comments portion at several school board meetings this spring to appoint two-time former school board candidate Seneca Rogers, who came in fourth in last year’s school board race, to the vacant seat. Many of those pleas were reiterated during public comments this week (see related story, this edition).
Rogers is one of the five applicants who had submitted a letter of interest to the board between September 13 (about the same date that a notice of the vacancy was posted on the school system’s website) and September 18, based on copies of the letters that ABSS furnished this week to The Alamance News.
Lindsey Causey, of 204 Georgetowne Drive, Elon, wrote in the letter of interest she submitted on September 15 that she feels like her “positive attitude, child-like awareness, and authenticity are three qualities” that she feels would be an asset to the board.
An Alamance County native and a nurse currently employed with Cone Health, Causey’s leadership roles in healthcare have included patient access, cancer survivorship roles, medical oncology, outpatient care for Covid, malignant hematology, and family medicine, as well as several hospital board memberships and committee appointments, according to a copy of her resume that she submitted with her resume.
Causey holds a bachelor’s in nursing from Western Carolina University; a master’s in nursing from Duke University; and a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Matthew Jorgenson, of 3425 Jones Drive in Mebane, wrote in the letter of interest he submitted to ABSS on September 15 that he believes his experience in informational technology, and as a campus police officer at UNC-Chapel Hill, would make him an asset to the board.
Jorgenson is currently employed as the director of engineering services with Encore Technology Group; he previously held IT positions with Orange County schools and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City schools, according to his letter. Jorgenson holds a bachelor’s degree in Information Systems and Operations Management and is pursuing a master’s degree in IT Management in Cyber Security at UNCG. He is also a U.S. Army veteran, Jorgenson noted in his letter.
Jorgenson and his wife, a teacher employed with ABSS for 11 years, have two daughters in the school system: a first-grader at Alexander Wilson; and a sixth-grader at Hawfields Middle School, he wrote in his letter of interest.
“My longstanding career in the IT sector, particularly within the educational setting, has equipped me with a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities that educational institutions face today,” Jorgenson wrote.
Seneca Rogers, who previously ran for the school board in 2020 and 2022, described himself as an Alamance County native and lifelong resident who has volunteered in ABSS schools and the community for years.
A Cummings High School and North Carolina A&T State University graduate, Rogers stated in the letter of interest he submitted on September 13 that he has volunteered at Cummigns as a track coach; organized Back-to-School giveaways for ABSS students; and volunteered as a mentor for the K.I.N.G. Academy (Keep Inspiring the Next Generation), through the city of Burlington’s Parks and Recreation Department, that works with boys to develop leadership skills and tutoring in S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, art, math) areas.
Rogers described himself in a candidate’s biographical sketch for the November 2022 school board race as an analyst employed with LabCorp.
In his letter of interest, Rogers outlined seven ways in which he would work to “refocus on teaching and learning” and strengthen ABSS students and schools.
Rogers pledged to: work to provide champion high school students to graduate with a clear path to a future; provide a safe, inclusive, and welcoming learning environment; help promote effective recruitment and retention strategies for staff; advocate for respect and “competitive compensation” for educators; develop “robust student support services”; serve as “an effective steward for our public investment in education”; and work with the community to develop partnership opportunities.
Denise Saletta, who did not give her address, wrote in the letter of interest she submitted to ABSS on September 18 that she and her family moved from California to Burlington 2½ years ago and she believes that, as the wife of a Newlin Elementary School teacher, she will bring a valuable perspective to the position.
“I find the school system here completely different from California and I feel that the system needs some updating and some reality checks regarding the time and effort that staff put into their careers,” Saletta wrote, adding that she retired after working 20 years, as a support staff member who “worked in the kitchens” at an elementary school, with the Benicia Unified School District in California. Saletta and her husband had three daughters, who attended K-12 public school in the Benicia, California school district, according to her letter.
Danielle Cheek Sellars
Danielle Cheek Sellars also submitted a letter of interest to ABSS on September 15 but gave no details about her background, or her address. Instead, she wrote, “I, Danielle Cheek Sellars, [am] interested in the position.”
For his part, Wagoner described himself in a candidate’s biographical sketch for the November 2022 election as a volunteer coach for youth basketball, baseball, and soccer team; a member of the board of directors for Positive Attitude Youth Center in Burlington; and a volunteer for Special Olympics.
School board members have not yet publicly agreed upon what sort of process they might use to fill the vacant seat. Nor have they announced a tentative date by which they hope to appoint a replacement to serve out the remainder of Simpson’s term.