By JONAH LOSSIAH
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Inauguration day in Cherokee is Monday, Oct. 1, and it will see the swearing-in of two new members on the Cherokee Central Schools (CCS) Board of Education. The event will start at 9 a.m. at the Charles George Memorial Arena.
Charlotte Saunooke, who was the chairperson of the School Board and represented Painttown, will be replaced by Regina Ledford-Rosario. John Crowe, who represented Big Y, will be replaced by Tara Reed-Cooper.
Ledford-Rosario is coming to the Board as a retired law enforcement officer and a member of the EBCI Police Commission. She says that security is the number one priority when she officially enters her term.
“Security at our school, that’s my number one thing. Protection of our kids,” said Ledford-Rosario.
“I’ve always said we need a police officer, an armed police officer at the gate when you first come in. Because people think twice when they see an armed police officer.”
Ledford-Rosario says that she’s bringing experience to the Board.
“I’ve been on a lot of boards. I’ve been a Tribal Council member, a 19-year retired law enforcement officer. So, I lot of my positions with the Tribe have been in the supervisor positions.”
Primarily she says she’s focused on a no-nonsense ideology.
“As a person and the positions that I’ve held, I don’t like excuses. I want solutions.”
Both Ledford-Rosario and returning Yellowhill representative Jennifer Thompson ran unopposed in the general election.
Tara Reed-Cooper is the Secretary of EBCI Human Resources, and she has been on the Cherokee Boy’s Club Board. She says that while she is confident moving into her new position, she is taking a measured approach to the beginning of her term.
“The school is a new area for me, but it’s our future…I’m kind of comparing it to this secretary position here. When I came in, I had a list of things that I wanted to take care of. What I found was that was my list of priorities from an outsider looking in…that was not the Tribe’s and these employees of this Tribe and these communities’ priorities. There were other things that were far my important than what I thought,” said Reed-Cooper.
She has been quizzing her fellow Board members and gaining as much information as possible before she steps into her new responsibilities. Crowe invited her to the last Board meeting before the inauguration to get a feel of the process, and this is an invitation that she took.
“What are our priorities of the Board? I think it’s tied into the pay. Are we just meeting just to meet, just to pass and deny things? Or, are we truly there to make a difference?” she remarked.
One of the things Reed-Cooper stressed is a strong relationship with the teachers of the school.
“The teachers are the ones that are in the everyday, the day-to-day…what’s working well? What’re things that the school administration and School Board could do that we’re not seeing. Because a lot of the time you don’t see things until there’s issues…your employees, they’re what makes that school. Those teachers are creating our leaders. And, we need to know what they need from us in order to be successful.”
She plans to use her background in human resources to maintain balance through policy during her time on the Board.
“I’ve been in HR for over 22 years. My personal opinion is HR is the backbone of any company, any anything. Because that’s where your policies and your procedures come from, that’s where your hiring comes from,” said Reed-Cooper.
She also spoke to the training she’s had to learn how different people operate, and the best way to work with those people.
“How do you deal with individuals? How do you understand them? How do you just sit down and have a conversation with somebody and build that trust so that they allow you to help through that process? Because that’s needed in this.”
The terms for the Board of Education are four years in length, and the community elections are staggered. In two years, the seats for Wolftown, Birdtown, and Big Cove will be up for election.