A retirement party is always bittersweet. School Board member Marshall Trammell’s send off was no different. A couple of hundred friends, teachers, school staff members and students stopped by the open house offering best wishes. Thomas Dale High School’s jazz big band played as culinary students from the Technical Center served crab cake canapés and kept a hors d’oeuvres line moving.
While serving on the Chesterfield County School Board for 20 years, Trammell’s career spanned a growth in the student population from about 40,000 in 1991 to 58,000 today, including helping to oversee a $522 million budget.
His decision to retire in 2011 was actually made before the last election, Trammell told the Village News last year.
“We talked about it, trying to get a comfort zone for each of us,” he said during an interview last year. Together, they agreed he would first retire from his “other full-time job” at the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which he’d held for 38 years. “And then I would run for election one more time and then that would be it.”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marcus J. Newsome, said he holds Trammell in high regard.
“Marshall has had a high regard for the rights of kids over the last 20 years,” Dr. Newsome said. “We will see a tremendous void in the county after losing a great public servant.”
His School Board service began after he was nominated to the panel by former Supervisor C.R. “Sonny” Currin, Jr. After his appointment by the Board of Supervisors, he took office on July 1, 1991.
His wife, Pat, has been retired from the school system for a number of years after a 31-year career in teaching. Marshall and Pat being dedicated to education have also watched their son, a graduate of Bird High School, and an attorney, excel as a visiting assistant professor at Brooklyn Law School in New York.
According to last year’s Village News article, people sometimes ask Trammell why he wanted to get on the School Board. They ask, “‘Why would anybody want to get into a position like that,’ knowing that people have called it ‘thankless’ for as long as I’ve been on the board,” he said. “It can be a thankless job, but it’s not always that way.
“But, you go into it with your eyes open and, as I’ve told everybody, I have yet to meet a single School Board member anywhere … whether on a state or national level, who, when they first got on the board, didn’t come on with their own, personal agenda. Everybody does that.”
But, he said, the question is, “Is your agenda personal or is it wider in scope?”
Trammell has gained the respect of his peers and those that have known him since he took office. Administrators speak highly of him and look at his 20-year-tenure as one of understanding and humility.
“I have known him for 20 years and he has been very approachable and understanding,” said Gene Brown, assistant principal at Thomas Dale. “He has really tried to do the best for the kids of the district and the county. And I will say, if I called, he would always call me back.”
When Trammell joined the board, the hot issue was one familiar to residents today: Overcrowding. The School Board had the first growth summit with the Board of Supervisors at that time. Officials still use some of the guidelines that came out of that meeting, such as turning to trailers and redistricting before construction.
Trammell has been a resident of Chesterfield County for 42 years. While on the School Board, he has served as chair and vice chair. According to the schools website, Trammell currently serves on the Board of Directors for Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts and Technology and served on the founding Board of Directors for the Governor’s School for Government and International Studies, where he co-authored the bylaws for the school. He has also served on the boards of the Metropolitan Educational Research Consortium and the MathScience Innovation Center.
The Trammells are active members of Sherbourne United Methodist Church where Mr. Trammell teaches Sunday school, serves as chair of the Church Council and works in the food pantry.
Carrie Coyner was elected in November as the School Board representative for Bermuda and will be sworn in during an investiture ceremony on Dec. 15.