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New Hartselle BOE member begins term

Andrea Williamson

Hartselle Enquirer

The recently appointed Hartselle BOE member will begin his term at the BOE meeting  this evening.

Mike Swafford, who is filling the vacated position of Monty Vest, moved to Hartselle in 2008. He is native of Huntsville but spent much of his childhood and youth in Baltimore, MD.,  and  Fyffe, Ala. He said that his family’s frequent relocations are part of the reason that he applied to serve.

“Growing up, we didn’t have a sense of community because we moved so often,” Swafford said. “I’m just interested in being part of the Hartselle community.”

However, his desire to be part of the Hartselle community was not the only factor that led Swafford to consider the position. He said that his son, Brennan, who will enter kindergarten at Crestline in the fall, and his daughter, Rowe, who will turn 2 next month, were the true motivating factors that led him to serve. More than just motivators, though, Swafford said that he believes his children will be integral in helping him to make wise decisions.

“My children help to make the important things important,” Swafford said “My son has a long future ahead of him in the school system, and the decisions that we make don’t just affect today. The children remind me what is at stake.”

Although Swafford is a HCS parent and the husband of former teacher Sallye Rowe Swafford, his own career background is not in education. Swafford, however, does not see this as a setback. The Jacksonville State graduate said that he believes his psychology and communication degrees will provide him with unique skills and insights to serve.

“Psychology is the science of people,” Swafford said. “I want to be a voice of the people and an advocate for the community, and you need to understand people to do that.”

Swafford spoke highly of the Hartselle community, saying that Hartselle consistently manages to perform far beyond the resources that it is provided. However, along with the praise, Swafford acknowledged that the board will have to face certain difficulties from the external environment.

“I prefer not to look at things as weaknesses but rather as challenges,” he said. “There are always going to be funding issues and new federal and state programs, and it is so easy to get caught up in the politics. However, what we need to remember is that the true nucleus is simply a relationship between a teacher, the parents and a child.”

Swafford elaborated on this student-focused mindset, saying that it is the duty of the school system to provide a secure foundation for the students to build their lives. While he has a mission for the school system, though, Swafford said that he tries to avoid having an individual plan.

“I don’t have a personal agenda,” he said. “This is good because it keeps you from going after what you think is important and instead allows you to go after what the people in the community believe is important.”

When asked about his plan to serve in the long-term, Swafford said that he was unsure if he would seek election after his one-year appointment ends. However, he said that he would consider it.

“I have a year to see what that would involve,” Swafford said. “This is one of those things worth doing in life. When I think of Brennan and Rowe, I know that what they get out of Hartselle City Schools will affect them for the rest of their lives.”

Swafford| Special to the Enquirer
Swafford| Special to the Enquirer