Locals named to governor's education advisory board

Henry County schoolteacher, Amy Steele, and school board vice chairman, Erik Charles, will each hold posts as education advisors to Gov. Nathan Deal. They join Clayton County's Superintendent of Schools, Edmond T. "Ed" Heatley, and schoolteacher, Jai-Sun Bolden, on the governor's list of advisors for this year.

Deal recently announced the group would join other educators, and education officials from around the state, to serve on his Education Advisory Board. The advisory board is comprised of four different groups — school superintendents, principals, teachers, and school board members —who will work with the governor in his decision-making on education in Georgia.

"I am honored to be chosen, and excited to be a voice for educators in our state," remarked Steele, of her selection to the governor's advisory board.

Steele is a fifth-grade teacher at East Lake Elementary School in McDonough. She has taught fifth-grade for the past three years. She taught eighth-graders for 14 years prior to that, at Union Grove Middle School, in McDonough, and Stockbridge Middle School, in Stockbridge.

The educator said she earned a bachelor's degree in education at the University of Georgia. Her master's degree is from Georgia State University, and her education specialist degree is from State University of West Georgia. She and her husband have three children, and are active members at Salem Baptist Church in McDonough.

"I'm excited," said Erik Charles, District IV member of the Henry County Board of Education. "It's a phenomenal opportunity that Henry County will have someone at the table, and I'm honored to be that person."

Charles, owner of A&E Insurance And Financial Services, Inc., was re-elected in November 2010, to his third term on the school board. He serves as the school board's vice chairman.

The single father of two, received some education at Grambling State University, and is a member of Eagle's Landing First Baptist Church in McDonough.

Clayton County Superintendent of Schools, Edmond Heatley, is married, and has three children, according the governor's office. He holds a bachelor's degree in curriculum and instruction from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill. He is a retired Marine who served in active duty, from 1983 to 1996, and was a member of the Marine Corps Reserves from 1996 to 2004.

The school superintendent began his career in public education as a classroom teacher, in the Norfolk (Va.) Public Schools, teaching students with disabilities in 1996, officials noted.

Schoolteacher, Jai-Sun Bolden — a certified teacher support specialist (teacher mentor) at Riverdale Middle School in Riverdale — started teaching immediately after college and joined Teach for America. He graduated from Morehouse College in 2000 with a major in English.

The governor's office reported that Bolden served as a co-founder of KIPPWAYS Academy charter school, after three years of teaching in the Atlanta Public Schools System. He was certified to teach gifted children, and is in the process of obtaining his master's degree in education from Georgia State University. He is married to Marji Bolden, and has a son, Robert.

"The minds of our children are our greatest resource," said Deal. "I am hopeful that partnering with those on the front lines, we can make better policy decisions for our educators and students.

"With the members of my Education Advisory Board now in place, I look forward to meeting with them on a quarterly basis to discuss how we can continue to improve educational outcomes for Georgia students," Deal added. "The Georgians on these panels are leaders in their fields, and they are giving of their time and talents to help our state strive for educational excellence."