Williams, Wheeler and Smith

Waynesboro School Board Chair Rick Wheeler (left), Vice Chair Diana Williams and Erika Smith are running for reelection to the school board.

In May, Waynesboro residents will vote for three school board seats.

Diana Williams currently serves on the Ward A seat and as the board’s vice chair. Rick Wheeler occupies the board’s Ward B seat and serves as chairman of the board. Erika Smith holds the At-Large seat.

Williams, Wheeler and Smith said they plan to seek re-election to the board on May 5. However, Wheeler will run for the At-Large seat instead of Ward B and Smith will seek to win the Ward B seat.

In the past two years, Waynesboro Public Schools has accomplished Standards of Learning accreditation for Waynesboro High School, Kate Collins Middle School and the city’s four elementary schools; progress of the renovations of Waynesboro High School; improvements to teacher compensation; and the opening of the school system’s Career and Technical Education Academy, the Waynesboro-Augusta Supporting Transition Employment Program (STEP) Learning Lab and Valley Academy.

Williams, Wheeler and Smith said in a joint press release they “hope to build on this great work and focus on many areas.”

Future goals include expanding the pre-K program so more of Waynesboro’s preschool-aged children from limited English and economically disadvantaged families can be served, and increasing the number of classes offered at Waynesboro High “to prepare our students better for life after graduation.”

Other goals include continuing to improve pay for teachers and support personnel, and “building on the good relationship with Waynesboro City Council members in order to continue the progress of updating our facilities and advocating on behalf of WPS with local state legislators in order to encourage the passage of legislation that positively impacts public education.”

Diana Williams

Williams and her husband, Clarence, have lived in the Valley since 1997. They moved to the city of Waynesboro in 2011.

Williams seeks re-election for a four-year term after serving on the board since a special election in 2018. She was appointed in February 2017 when Douglas Norcross resigned.

Williams became vice chair of the board in July 2018.

Her son, C.C., is a 2015 graduate of Waynesboro High School, and another son, Christopher, is a 2017 graduate.

Williams holds a master’s of arts in journalism and public affairs from American University, and is digital editor and strategist for BackStory, an American history podcast.

“As a graduate of public schools, I understand that a great public school education provides a solid foundation for all future endeavors,” said Williams in a press release. “I will look to ensure that Waynesboro Public Schools continues to attract quality talent, maintain responsible stewardship of resources, and will seek out opportunities to increase educational success.”

Williams said she is grateful to serve the children and families of Waynesboro on the city’s school board.

“It is my plan to continue collaborating with board colleagues and the community. I will work diligently to promote Waynesboro as one of the best cities in Virginia to receive a public education,” Williams said.

Rick Wheeler

Wheeler seeks another four-year term. He was first elected to the board in 2016, and has been chair since 2018.

A graduate of Bluefield College, Wheeler holds a bachelor’s of science in physical education with a minor in recreation and religion, as well as a master’s of divinity degree from the Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond.

Wheeler and his wife, Elizabeth, have lived in the Valley since 1995. Their three sons have graduated from or are currently students in the Waynesboro Public School system.

“As a husband, father and small business owner in the service industry, I take joy in serving the community and giving back to it,” said Wheeler in a press release. “The opportunity of serving on the School Board is just one more way I can serve the community of Waynesboro and make a difference in the lives of students and teachers for the future.”

Erika Smith

Smith joined Waynesboro School Board in 2017 after the resignation of Shelly Laurenzo. She won a special election in 2018, and is seeking a four-year term in May.

A Waynesboro native and 2001 graduate of Stuarts Draft High School, Smith and her husband, Bryan, have six children. Airelle is a student at Waynesboro High School, Gabriel at Kate Collins Middle School, Levi and Asher at Berkeley Glenn Elementary, and Brooks at the Wayne Hills Pre-K Center. The couple also has a younger son, Landes.

Smith became a Licensed Pharmacy Technician after attending Blue Ridge Community College. She works part time at her church, and is actively involved in Waynesboro Public Schools as a volunteer. She has served on the Waynesboro Schools’ Talented and Gifted Advisory Board since 2013.

Smith delivers Meals on Wheels for the Waynesboro Senior Center.

“I am excited to serve the children and families of Waynesboro,” said Smith in a press release. “I am dedicated to serving the diverse population in our city and I am committed to ensuring that every child experiences the many opportunities available in our public schools.”

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