Zora Felton was an entirely inexperienced “politician” when she first sought a seat on the Wake County school board in 2013. She just thought perhaps she could make a difference for the children and the teachers of Wake County, so why not give it a try? She won, and was re-elected unopposed last week.
But Felton, 65, died suddenly this week, a shock to her fellow board members and to those she served, who regarded her with respect and appreciation. She had in a short time gained a reputation as a caring person who listened to parents and teachers and tried to work constructively and cooperatively with other board members.
Felton was not one for the spotlight. But she had credentials which suited her for membership on the board, and suited the board for her quiet, thoughtful deliberation.
She really did have a perfect resume for service. She grew up in Wake County, never left, attended Raleigh schools and N.C. State University. She taught social studies for 10 years, then took time off to raise her children, who also attended public schools. Then she went back to teaching, and decided to retire and run for the school board. That’s just about as perfect a background for service as there could be.
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Always, her focus was children, but as a former teacher she recognized the challenges in the trenches and pushed for teachers to have more planning time at school. She was a force without trying to be a force.
Felton’s passing reminds us of all of the public servants, elected or not, who serve the people of the county in low-profile but important ways. The tasks are in many cases thankless, but they have to be done, and it takes good people to go to all the meetings and meet with constituents and then work hard to formulate policies that benefit all. People just like Zora Felton.