For Gail Hughes, Dorchester District Two is home.
Hughes, chairwoman for DD2’s school board, was a student of the district growing up. She is a Summerville High School graduate and both of her children have also gone through the district.
“I have always been involved in Dorchester District Two because this was my life,” she said. “I grew up just a few miles down the road from Summerville High School. My mother went through DD2 schools, and all my brothers and sisters. This is home.
“And I’ve always had an interest in working with children,” she added. “My interest is a way to give back.”
That interest has spurred eight years of Hughes serving on the school board. She has been chairwoman for two years and is up for re-election in this year’s school board election.
Hughes believes in the past eight years she has brought a business owner/parent perspective to the district, and has contributed to the board being able to look at things “outside the box” and consider all aspects when addressing issues.
“I came in here with that mindset basically – that I wanted to be a voice for the business people and the parents and the children,” she said. “I think because of me not having a background in education, I am able to see a broader picture.”
Since joining the board, Hughes said, board members have succeeded in building relationships with government entities, such as the legislative delegation and Summerville Town Council, creating “the colony” needed to raise a child.
At the time when she became chairwoman Hughes was serving on the facilities committee and was involved in some of the construction projects, and the district was about to enter the building project with the three new elementary schools. She said her knowledge of the construction process helped earn her the position as DD2’s chairwoman.
Hughes hopes to still be on the board and to see those construction projects successfully wrap up.
“There’s lots of things we’re still working on and that is my main reason for wanting to get reelected it,” she said. “There’s the construction projects we have going on, there’s other things we’re working on as far as general procedural type things that I’d like to see through. We’ve already implemented a lot of things that I’d hope to see get accomplished.”
Right now she is using the school board election as an opportunity to get out and meet new people and learn other people’s concerns, wants and needs. Hughes said DD2 strives to provide community outreach opportunities in order to have face time with the public.
“We learn a lot during election time,” she said. “It can be a fun time, it just depends on how you approach it.”
Hughes would like to work on improving graduation rates, and help make DD2 “the very best district possible.”
“I think we’re well on our way, but there’s still some work to be done,” she said. “If you have worked on these things for four to five years, you just want to be there to the end — you just want to see them completed.”
Hughes said there are a lot of safety issues that are involved in schools that DD2 is trying to revamp, something they have been working for the last several years.
“We’ve done everything possible to make sure our students are safe when they’re in school,” she said. “Our children are our most precious commodities in this community and we have got to do everything possible to make sure they’re safe.”
Hughes is mother to 28-year-old Amber and 18-year-old Hunter.
She has been with her boyfriend, Dwayne Polk, for five years.
Hughes finds serving on the board to be very rewarding, and is happy for her accomplishments and the district’s accomplishments.
“If you’ve made a difference in one child’s life, you’ve made it all worthwhile,” she said. “That is one of the main reasons why your love of children is so important. If you have to have that love and that want to make a difference.”
At this point Hughes is very hopeful that she will be reelected, but said the decision is ultimately up to the voters.
“I feel I still have what it takes to be a good board member and a good leader,” she said.