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After 12 years, Phillip McLain still determined to serve schools

EDITORS NOTE: Now that we have published stories about the five candidates running for the District 2 seat of the Washington County Board of Education we will publish their stories online. The order will be as follows; Bob Cantler (Wednesday), Mary Beth Dellinger (Thursday), Todd Ganger (Friday), Phillip McLain (Saturday) and Vince Walters (Sunday). Each will appear in the Community News Section on the website.


Staff Writer

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Phillip McLain was able to see some beautiful places when he served in the Navy during Vietnam. The 12-year Washington County Board of Education Board Member said they sailed through the Caribbean, Mediterranean and the Arctic Ocean. But the most beautiful place he saw was when he got back home.

“I guess this old Tennessee boy was home-sick,” McLain said with a smile.

Phillip McLain
                                        Phillip McLain

Home is the place he has felt honored to serve during his decade on the board of education. However, showing up to the meetings on the given nights isn’t the main way that he feels like he helps the community —  although, he admits it is a large portion. The East Tennessee State graduate is a member of Telford United Methodist Church which helps provide bicycles to children to make sure they get enough on Christmas morning.

McLain never had any children in the Washington County school system, but his wife, Carla, taught for 35 years, and when he made a decision to run for school board over 12 years ago, he felt it was a calling.

“Community service,” McLain said. “I wanted to support the teachers and what they do. I had several teachers talk to me, call me and come to see me and at the time they were just looking for a school board member that would lend an ear to the teachers side of the issues. And I have tried to do that for the last 12 years.”

Besides teaching junior achievement classes in schools, McLain — who is the third longest serving member on the board, behind Mary Lo Silvers and Clarence Mabe and the only Level Five board member besides Silvers —  also takes opportunities to go and read in the classrooms.

That is one of the most fulfilling things that McLain gets to do as a member of the board.

“That really makes my time that is spent there worthwhile,” he said. “The smiles from the kids and then when you leave, they want to know when you are coming back. That makes you feel good.”

The six-year Navy veteran said that having experience on the board during a period of transition for the school system is important.

And he hopes that he will be able to continue to help see the school system through that time, as they have hired a new director and embark on new buildings and tools in the classroom.

“It has been an honor and privilege to serve on the Board of Education for Washington County and I look forward to working with our new Director, Kimber Halliburton, and the exciting changes she will be bringing to our school system,” he said.

While McLain has voted down the new Boones Creek school site, he says it isn’t because he doesn’t believe the school needs to be built. The Boones Creek community needs a school.

He just disagrees with the location and thinks that it should be built around the children that it will serve.

“I am confident in standing for what I believe in and I am doing my best to vote my common sense and my community values,” he said.

One of the main values that he holds is that he is an advocate for the school system and he knows that they are there to implement policy, plan for the schools and promote the school system.