Wife files for departing husband's TISD board membership

Wife files for departing husband's Tyler ISD board membership, says he doesn't know yet

Longtime Tyler ISD board member Therelee Washington decided not to seek re-election to the school board.

But it looks like the District 3 position is going to stay in his family.
Jean Washington, his wife, filed to run for the position on Friday, the day after her husband told her he wasn't going to run.

"I just decided this is what I wanted to do; this is what I will do," Mrs. Washington, 72, a retired teacher, said by phone. "He does not know that I have filed for this position." 

She hadn't told her husband she was running as of Friday afternoon because he was out of town and she had been unable to reach him by phone. 

However, she expects him to be supportive of her decision just as she supported him during his time on the board. 

"I know he will be pleased that we're keeping it in the family," Mrs. Washington said. "I don't think he's going to be disappointed at all, and he will give me support. I know he will."

Washington is the third incumbent on the TISD board to decide not to seek re-election in May. Earlier in the week, board President Michelle Carr, who represents District 6, and board member Eleno Licea, who represents District 1, announced they would not seek re-election. 

Tyler businessman Wade Washmon filed for District 1 and the Rev. Dr. Marty Dunbar filed for District 6. They, along with Mrs. Washington, are unopposed. 

So, once the board cancels the election and approves them as trustees, they will start their service in May. 

Mrs. Washington said she loves education, students and teachers and wants to see the district make great changes to its schools. 

"I feel that I can bring some great ideas to the board because I have been an educator and I can work really well with people and I have a very positive attitude," she said. 

Washington, 77, is in his 19th year on the board. A retired educator, he spent most of his 37-year career in TISD working as a teacher and principal.

Washington, who was out of town, could not be reached for comment Friday. However, his wife spoke about his service. 

"He's worked hard for this district," Mrs. Washington said. "He put his whole heart and soul in it because he really loves education and loves children." 

She said he was undecided even until Thursday about if he would seek re-election. But ultimately, he decided it was time to let someone else take over. However, he didn't necessarily expect that to be his wife. 

Mrs. Washington said the couple hadn't talked about this recently nor had she given him any indication that she would choose to run. 

She said she remembers him asking her at one time if she would like to run because he couldn't serve forever. But it wasn't recently, she said. 

Her response at the time was, "Oh no, no. Not me."

However, as she worked in her house on Friday, she said something changed. 

"As I thought about it, I said, 'Well, why not me?'" she said. "I think I could do that. I've been in different organizations. I've worked in the schools. I'm an educator. Why couldn't I try it? I decided to run because I love education. I love students. I love all the teachers and I support them." 

Mrs. Washington worked as a junior high reading teacher in Waskom for three years before coming to Hubbard Middle School (then Hubbard Junior High), where she worked for 30 years. She retired in 1998 as a reading teacher. 

She has two grown children and one stepson. She and her husband, who have been married for 48 years, raise their three grandchildren, whose mother is deceased. 

She is active in the John Tyler PTA and serves as a sponsor for many student organization trips her granddaughters are involved in.

She also has served as clerk at College Hill Baptist Church, where she attends, for more than 30 years. 

The opportunity to serve on the school is one that will be a great challenge, she said, but also a role she believes she can fill. 

"I feel that I can bring some great ideas to the board because I have been an educator and I can work really well with people and I have a very positive attitude," she said. 

Although she has great respect for the work her husband has done while on the board, she said she is doing this for herself and to represent her community. 

"I'm not on the board because my husband has been a board member," she said. "I'm there because of me. This is what I want to do. … I am my own person and he knows (that)."


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