Two square off for seat on Seaford School Board

By Bryant L. Richardson

Seaford School District voters will go to the polls May 8 to select a new school board member. The seat that is up for election is being vacated by Gladys Briggs, who has served 15 years on the Seaford Board of Education. The candidates for school board are Raymond L. Thomas of 728 Nylon Boulevard and James J. Van Vleck of 21040 Camp Road. Thomas and Van Vleck were asked a series of questions by the Seaford Star. Their answers follow: Why are you seeking this office? Van Vleck: While in the military, it was extremely difficult to have any longterm commitments. I now have the opportunity to be more involved. With a child in the Seaford school sys- tem, it is very important that the schools do well and I would like to be a part of ensuring it does. Thomas: I have two girls, one a senior and one in the seventh grade. After recently giving thought to sending my seventh grader to another district, I decided to do this instead.

What would you like to see accomplished during your term? Thomas: Improve public and staff confidence in Seaford School District. Van Vleck: I would like to see the continued emphasis on basic education continue and grow. Having the fundamentals will aid students to succeed both academically and throughout the rest of their lives.

What do you think is the most important issue facing Seaford schools? Van Vleck: Parental involvement in educational activities in the classroom, after-school and at home is not strong. Although efforts have increased parental support, it must continually be reinforced. Parents must be encouraged to assist teachers in the classroom, support after-school activities, and join formal organizations like the Parents Teachers Association. Thomas: Loss of teachers to charter and private schools.

What is your vision for Seaford schools? Thomas: My parents moved to Seaford in 1966, because it had the best schools. I would like some young couple to do the same in 2002 or 2003. Van Vleck: I would like to see technology fully integrated into all courses of study. I believe the schools will continue to grow academically. Although not all students seek higher education, basic fundamentals taught, practiced, and tested will prove beneficial to all. Why should a voter elect your over your opponent? Van Vleck: I have had children enrolled in a number of different school districts in the United States and overseas. As a parent, I saw how the schools functioned and the good and bad points of them. I will utilize this experience while on the board for meaningful improvements. Thomas: I have no knowledge of my opponent, but I want to thank him for caring and getting involved.

Do you have any children in Seaford Schools? Thomas: Two girls, one a senior and one in the seventh grade. Van Vleck: Yes, Tracie, third grade. Are you or any of your relatives employed by Seaford Schools? Van Vleck: No. Thomas: No.

Thomas is married to Nancy (Watt) Thomas. This is his first try at an elected office. Van Vleck is married to Pamela A. Van Vleck. This is also his first try at office.

During her school board career, Briggs also served as second, then first vice president of the Delaware State Board Association. Briggs' is the mother of eight children, three of whom she and her husband Bill adopted and all of whom graduated from Seaford High School. Briggs dedicated her life to helping children in her neighborhood, her church and at home. Though retiring from the school board, Briggs says she's not retiring from teaching children. In fact, she is expanding a tutoring program she and others began about five years' ago at Mt. Cavalry AME Church in Concord. "I never give up on a child," said Mrs. Briggs. "I believe there's a deep kernel of hope inside almost every child that can be reached with persistence." This belief was the governing philosophy and driving force during the 15 years she served.

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