Henley’s School Board Debut
Michele Henley has a very good reason to be happy in 2017. She’s the newly elected DeSoto County Schools board member in District 2, replacing Steve Dodd, who did not seek re-election this past November.
A 1987 graduate of Horn Lake High School, Henley attended Northwest Mississippi Community College. She later received her bachelor’s degree from Ole Miss.
Prior to her current career as the CEO of Team Mobile Industrial Cleaning, Inc., Henley worked with gifted and special needs students at Greenbrook Elementary in Southaven.
Said Henley, on her election website: “As a small businesswoman, former educator and mother of young children, I have witnessed how academic success early on gives our children the best opportunities to grow and reach their full potential. This same academic foundation fuels new generations of leaders and instills core principles they will remember along the way.”
In recognition of her new opportunity with Mississippi’s largest school district, here’s 17 questions with Henley:
How’s your excitement level as your new role begins?
I am truly excited and full of anticipation for what this journey holds. There are many things that I need to learn as far as the role of school board member, so I am excited to learn everything I need to know to perform in the role to the best of my ability.
What are some short-term goals for you?
The short-term goals I have are to familiarize myself with everything required to perform my duties as school board member. Through training and working directly with Superintendent (Cory) Uselton and the other board members, I will have the tools I need to do just that.
What is a long-term goal?
I feel as a school system, we need to look at where we want our schools to be in the next 5 to 10 years. The steps we need to take to get to that place is what our long-term goals should be. If we set our sights on where we want to go, we can create a path to get us there.
What’s the biggest challenge/obstacle that you’ll be facing?
The only challenge/obstacle I feel I’ll be facing is the one of being new to the position. However, as with any new endeavor, with the proper training and support, that challenge will be quickly overcome.
How has being a former teacher helped you prepare for your new role within the school district?
Being in the classroom previously is an important asset to being on the school board. It gave me the knowledge of what the teachers and students need to be successful.
How has being a parent helped you prepare for your new role?
Being a parent is the biggest factor in me deciding to run for school board. I have two daughters who have graduated, as well as two daughters still in the school system. My three oldest daughters are an important source of information about what is good and bad with what is happening in our schools. There is no better source of information than someone who is a part of everything going on in the halls and classrooms of the schools.
What is your experience dealing with current members of the school board and the superintendent?
The only experience I have with the current board administration is with Uselton. Before becoming superintendent, he was principal at DeSoto Central High School, where two of my daughters graduated from and one is still enrolled.
What was your level of personal satisfaction being elected to a position with Mississippi’s largest school district?
Personally, I am honored and humbled to have been elected to DeSoto County School Board. We have an amazing district, and I am looking forward to working with and for it to ensure it continues to be great.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever given as a parent?
The best parental advice I’ve been given (and I, in turn, give to others) is to be flexible. Being a parent requires me to wear many hats that change from moment to moment and from child to child, depending on the situation. Parenting is a hard job, but I can’t imagine life without my kids.
And on the lighter side,
What’s your favorite food?
Favorite TV show?
Paul the Apostle
Favorite vacation spot?
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Chris Van Tuyl is a DeSoto County resident and former newspaper journalist who enjoys the company of his wife and pets, and watching sports.