New board members bring different views, same goals

Rev. Dr. Israel Lee and Laquante Pruit
Staff Writer

One brings years of experience. The other has a passion for her children and their schools.

Together, they want to help the West Point Consolidated School District get better.

Rev. Dr. Israel Lee and Laquante Pruitt were named last week to the school board. Their terms officially will start Jan. 1 and they’ll be sworn in at the board’s Jan. 14 meeting.

Neither is a stranger to the classroom.

“The senior (in high school) is proud but really, my kids are so used to me being at their school or in their classroom, I don’t think they will know any difference,” Pruitt said when asked whether her three children have made much of her appointment.
“I’ve always had a desire to help in whatever capacity I can to try to make sure we are offering the best education opportunity possible,” said Lee, who spent more than 22 years as a teacher and administrator in the West Point and Clay systems before spending 14 years as assistant superintendent in Houston.

He retired in 2012 after 37 years in education.

Pruitt’s three children range from a senior in high school to second grade and Pre-K. The 36-year-old operating room nurse at North Mississippi Medical Center has been involved with the schools since her oldest started. Whether with the PTA, her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, or just helping out, her face is a familiar one. And she brings an important perspective.

“I would like to be the parent voice, a younger perspective, a fresh look and view of things,” explained Pruitt, who understands the issues families and children face today. “I’ve seen the changes schools have gone through. I think we can do so much.”

Like many, Lee has concerns about discipline, testing, school security, and communication among teachers, parents and administrators.

“I want to get in and see the lay of the land. I don’t know it all by any means, but I don’t think there are any surprises. I just hope my experience is an asset. There is no magical solution,” Lee stated.

“The mindset is we want to help children. We might not get to every one, but that is our goal.”

Through his years in education, he has seen how things have changed to the point where some families see schools as everything from social worker and babysitter to disciplinarian.

Schools have had to adapt. Through it all, communication is important and the teacher and the classroom still must be the focus.

“It’s tough for a teacher in a classroom with 25 kids to know the situation of every single child and to work to every different situation,” he said, noting schools shouldn’t have to bear the brunt of every aspect of raising a child.

And like others, he worries education has become so test driven that schools have forgotten some simple guides.

“What about letting teacher teach?” he wondered.

“I think we all want the same things … it’s a matter of doing the best we can with what we have and making sure we are focused on the right things,” he added.