Former Memphis teacher Althea Greene named interim school board member by county commission

The newest member of the Shelby County Schools board will also be the only former educator in the group.

The county commission unanimously appointed Althea Greene on Monday afternoon to a term that will last until August 2020. Greene retired from Shelby County Schools in July after 38 years of teaching at six Memphis schools and said she plans to run for the seat at the end of her term.

“It’s been my dream to be on the school board,” Greene told reporters after her appointment. “I’ve worked in this school system, so I understand.”

To learn more about Greene, you can read her responses to commissioners’ questions in her application.

Board chairwoman Shante Avant said earlier Monday it is unlikely Greene will be sworn in before the school board’s meeting Tuesday. Avant said she hopes a ceremony can be scheduled at a time convenient for Greene’s friends and family.

The commission, which provides most of the funding for Shelby County Schools, posted the vacant Memphis school board seat after Teresa Jones, who had served since 2011, resigned in January when she was appointed as a municipal judge.

Greene joins the school board at a crucial time as Tennessee’s largest district searches for a new superintendent. Dorsey Hopson left the district in mid-January and Joris Ray has served as interim superintendent since then. The board is currently mulling firms to hire for a national search.

Greene said the school board shouldn’t “waste” money on a national search.

“If you go back and look at the span of the superintendents that we have had, the ones who have given us longevity and service to the community have been the ones who are from Shelby County,” she said.

Commissioner Edmund Ford Jr., a former teacher for the district, said experience as an educator was an important consideration for the school board appointment.

“Teachers have been getting the short end of the stick for so long,” said Ford.

Greene also garnered the support of both of the district’s teacher organizations during the meeting.

“Teachers need a voice in this situation. We have been ignored for a very long time,” said Keith Williams, the executive director of the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association. “She knows it is not in the testing, it is not in the money you spend, it is in what you do,” as a teacher.

Greene beat out two other candidates for the vacant seat: Charles McKinney, a Rhodes College professor, and Aubrey Howard, the executive director of governmental affairs in Shelby County Trustee’s Office. The fourth candidate, Erskine Gillespie, an account manager at the Lifeblood Mid-South Regional Blood Bank, was not nominated by the commission.

Ten people initially applied for the vacancy, but only four lived in the district that includes neighborhoods such as North Memphis, Binghampton, Vollintine Evergreen, and Berclair. (Map of District 2)

During the meeting, commissioner Brandon Morrison nominated Tyree Daniels, who had previously been disqualified because the address on his board application and voter registration were outside District 2’s boundaries. Daniels said the address was an error on his application, which was submitted by his assistant, and that his driver’s license address is in the district.

County commissioners questioned Daniels for about 30 minutes and he ultimately withdrew his name from consideration. Daniels lost the 2012 school board race against Jones.