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Loyd Star grad appointed to education board

Loyd Star Attendance Center graduate Kami Bumgarner said growingup in a family of teachers and marrying into anothereducation-oriented family made her recent appointment to thestate’s Board of Education even more of an honor.

“Being a teacher, I feel like my parents influenced that,” shesaid.

Her parents, Roe and Kay Burns, both taught at Loyd Star whileBumgarner was growing up, and her mother still teaches atEnterprise.

Bumgarner’s in-laws, Les and Catherine Bumgarner, are bothformer educators as well, and Les is now the mayor ofBrookhaven.

The mayor said his daughter-in-law’s appointment to the board isan honor for everyone that knows her.

“We’re proud she’s a part of our family, and we’re proud she’sfrom Brookhaven, as well,” he said. “This is a real honor for thegovernor to appoint her to this position.

Bumgarner was appointed in July to the nine-member board by Gov.Haley Barbour to be the teacher representative. She said it is abig task to represent all the teachers in the state’s educationsystem.

“My perspective looking at the issues is a little different fromother board members,” she said. “It’s a responsibility I don’t takelightly.”

There are daily e-mails from the state superintendent’s office,and monthly meetings to discuss the issues, she said.

“Those who work at the department fill us in on what’s going on,and we discuss the different issues and policies,” she said. “Wework hard to do what’s right for the children.”

Bumgarner serves on the graduation rate task force, which shesaid puts a lot of her focus on working with educational leadersacross the state on keeping graduation rates up.

“That’s really the biggest thing I’m involved with right now,”she said. I’m working with community college leaders, universitypresidents, and (Institute of Higher Learning Commissioner) Dr.(Hank) Bounds, and working with them has been really interesting. Ifeel honored to be the one chosen to get to be a part of that.”

Bumgarner said the constant conflict over the Mississippi Schoolof the Arts and its location in Brookhaven is a symptom of thebiggest issue facing education in the state at this time.

“I guess right now the most immediate challenge would be thebudget, but I think that’s a challenge with every part of societyright now,” she said. “Certainly education is the largest chunk ofour state budget, and we have to make some tough decisions. The artschool is one thing the governor has opposed, and I hope thatdoesn’t happen … it has been good for the city, and I hope thatwon’t be a issue.”

Meanwhile, she said, the whole experience has led her to seeeducation in a different light as well.

“As a teacher I feel like I’m in the trenches having contactwith the students, and this has led me to see from a diffperspective, to see what comes into play with education as awhole,” she said.

Bumgarner is currently serving as a sixth grade social studiesteacher at Madison Middle School. She is married to Brad Bumgarner,and they have four daughters: Anna Kay, 6; Brooke, 3; Claire, 18months, and Bradyn, 2 months.