New school board director comes with diverse background

New school board director Laura McKinney takes the oath of office at Blaine School Board meeting on December 12. Photo by Oliver Lazenby.

By Oliver Lazenby

With five kids who have attended more than 10 schools in multiple countries, Laura McKinney has seen a variety of
educational systems in action.

Her kids have attended public schools in the U.S., British schools overseas, and even an American school in Albania. As the newest Blaine School Board director, McKinney thinks that her background gives her a different perspective on education.

“I’ve seen a lot of different approaches,” she said. “ I think that definitely ignited a passion for how we engage in education and the learning opportunities for our kids.”

In 2014, McKinney and her family returned to Blaine after years of frequently moving for her husband’s job as a foreign area officer for the Department of Defense. They had previously lived in Blaine for a year and a half in 2001 and had always hoped to return, she said.

With her kids enrolled at Blaine elementary, middle and high schools, McKinney started to spend more time at Blaine schools. She volunteered on the school’s fiscal committee before running for school board this fall and on December 12, took an oath of office at the school board’s meeting.

Before moving to Blaine, McKinney directed a South Carolina-based economic development nonprofit called New Carolina, which has since changed its name to the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness. That organization developed a program called TransformSC, a partnership between educators, business leaders and legislators, which focused on improving graduation rates and preparing students for life beyond high school.

“The goal was to essentially reimagine what education would look like,” she said.

For McKinney, education should prepare students for their future – whether that means college or a career. It should also prepare students to participate in society and teach them about personal finance, taxes, how to vote, find information and generally make them “citizenship-ready,” she said.

McKinney said she is excited to serve on the school board because she’s met a lot of wonderful people in the district who she feels care about students’ success. She thinks that there’s a lot of opportunity to positively impact students in a
small district.

“I guess what I hope to bring to the school board is a different perspective,” she said. “I like to ask a lot of questions. I don’t think I have all the answers, but sometimes I think asking the questions is more important than having the answers.”

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