By Vallean Jackson, For The Tribune
JEFFERSON COUNTY — Jefferson County Board of Education (JEFCOED) board member Donna Pike worked with the school
systems for 26 years, driving a school bus before retiring. Then there was a point in her life she worked at Regions bank until she retired. Whether it is children or adults, she has always desired to make a difference in the lives of others.
As Pike transported students to and from school, she never once hesitated to help out in classrooms when needed. From holding detentions to maybe being that counselor or listening ear a student needs. With her experience working around students and involvement with the Irondale City Council for four years, she understands the importance of providing for the city and keeping children and their education a priority. She could easily be home with her husband enjoying retirement but staying active and involved is personal to her and what she wants.
Entering her sixth year on JEFCOED, she is excited about the things in store for students. She believes she may be retired but still has plenty more to give and loves making good things happen. The thought of walking away from the board is something that she is not ready to do. In fact, when it was election time, she was on the edge of her seat anticipating the results because whether in the boardroom, classroom, or grocery store, she sought to make a strong impact on future generations.
Pike had this to say in an interview about her recent re-election for board member of district 3:
Q: Was education always your first choice of profession?
Pike: I have always been good at teaching people things from how to drive a bus and how to be a bank teller or customer service. So I was teaching a lot of things but just not in a classroom. I believe that teaching goes beyond academics, even if it is something as simple as counting change out to a customer from their purchase. That is important, learning everyday life skills. I worked at the bank for many years, and it was amazing to me to see college students that didn’t know how to fill out a deposit slip. So when I run into situations as such, I try to educate the individual because I know and strongly believe there’s always room to learn and improve.
Q: Why did you decide to run for another term?
Pike: Well, we are in the midst of doing so many great things, and I wanted to continue to be a part of that. I wanted to be able to examine exactly what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and make comments and suggestions for improvement. Plus, I love it!
Q: What was going through your head while waiting for the results?
Pike: OMG! It was so slow. I was the loser there for at least about two hours. He was about seven votes ahead of me, and I thought, I hope this is not an omen. I just took a deep breath, and I said if it is meant for me to serve another six years on the board, then it will happen. So at 1:25 a.m., we cut the television off because there was hardly any movement on our particular counts. The next morning about 6 a.m., my husband came into the bedroom crying, saying wake up, you won. I went, oh my gosh! I was so appreciative to the voters that they appreciated where I was coming from. I don’t have a Ph.D. or a lot of degrees, but I have something, and that is called experience, from dealing with children to my input with transportation committees. I truly care a lot. I have so much to still give the children of Jefferson County.
Q: What are your goals during this term?
Pike: Well, I’m on the teaching and learning committee, and I want to know more about what we plan to do to engage learning more. A program we are working on is a step in that direction. It isn’t fully developed yet, but I do believe it will be great and a huge help. I think we are going in the direction to make sure Jefferson County is going to raise the bar. I have heard of Alabama being in the bottom for the last time! I am done with that negative label.
Q: What would you say is the best reward of working at the BOE?
Pike: Our teachers have great visions, imagination, and great skills about what they want their children to learn and master, and I like to be a part of that and be able to grant them that yes. I like to be able to tell our head of lunchrooms, yes ma’am; they will all be air-conditioned. Yes, sir, we are going to get some new buses. Anything we can do to enhance our children’s educational system, I want to be a part of!
Q: What advice would you give parents based on the recent events going on in the world?
Pike: I would tell them not to make any hasty decisions because of this tragedy. I don’t know what other states have in place for their schools. We have studied and done so many things in our schools to ensure students’ safety. We have safety resource officers in every school and have implemented extra levels of protection to avoid encountering things as such. Outside of keeping education first, keeping our kids safe is just as much a priority.