By ANGELA NIMS
Sunday Times Newspapers
RIVERVIEW — After interviewing four candidates Monday evening, Riverview Community Schools trustees unanimously decided upon Sheila Walker as their newest member.
Initial curiosity over the new trustee led some from the community to poke around social media in the hopes of seeing who Walker is. Walker’s Facebook friend’s list includes Supt. Russell Pickell’s wife and possibly the board’s current treasurer, leading some in the community to wonder if favoritism played a role in the board’s decision.
School Board President Gary O’Brien, was quick to voice his dismay at the suspicion.
“We selected Mrs. Walker based on her credentials and her interview during the board meeting,” O’Brien said. “It is extremely disappointing and sad that people would insinuate that her selection was based on nepotism given the depth and breadth of Mrs. Walker’s dedication to children and the wealth of experience she brings to the board.
“All of the candidates were well prepared and in my opinion, any one of them would have made excellent board members, as each brought a unique strength to the position. But since we could only choose one candidate, the board felt that Sheila was particularly strong.”
Fellow candidate Elizabeth Ashley had no qualms with Walker’s selection.
“I thought she was really nice,” Ashley said.
Walker’s credentials are many. She and her husband opened a foster home which has welcomed more than 150 children during the last two decades.
Walker also has spent more than 20 years actively holding a variety of leadership positions with Riverview United Methodist Church. The Rev. Keith Lenard praised Walker’s involvement in everything from running funeral dinners to working with campaigns to get backpacks to school kids who need them.
“She has her own business near Brownstown, J & S Gardens,” Lenard said. “Normally she helps the church out with growing hanging plants, then bringing them for the church to sell for Mother’s Day.
“She’s very organized, always looking toward the next step and has trained some of the leaders in the church, showing them how to lead better. Sheila’s, all around, a great person. When she said she was applying for the school board, she said she’d have to let go of some of her duties here to accommodate it. We’ll miss her in leadership.”
Last March, Walker was inducted into the Riverview Hall of Fame. Chair of the Steering Committee for the awards, Mary Zellner, was excited to hear of Walker’s application to the board.
“She’s a very delightful woman,” Zellner said. “Of course, her commitment to children and all the work she’s done — her commitment to young people — all the adoptions and foster kids, it’s extremely impressive. As far as I can know, she’ll be an excellent addition to the school board, based on her credentials.”
The next regularly scheduled school board meeting is slated for 7 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Riverview City Council Chambers, 14100 Civic Park Drive.
(Angela Nims can be reached at [email protected].)