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Meet Gary


I grew up in a small community called Smithline located off of Valley Falls road right at the edge of School District 2.   It was surrounded by what used to be Smith Dairy Farm and is now part of the USC-Upstate campus, the soccer facility now sits right where my home sat.   My grandmother, my mom and the other parents in our community poured into the lives of all of the children in the neighborhood, this fostered a strong sense of character in many of us in spite of life's challenges.  

My grandmother was always helping someone and this is where the notion of helping others in need started.  If there was a need, she just jumped in and helped; never looking for anything in return, only the satisfaction of seeing and knowing that whomever she helped was now in a better position to help themselves.  That and a strong sense of faith was instilled in me at an early age and is the foundation on which I stand today...affecting positive change in the lives of those who want better for themselves and the families.   I see the position of School Board Trustee as an opportunity to do just that and have a positive impact on the lives of generations to come. 

I graduated from Boiling Springs High School and went on to attend USC-Upstate.  I left school to work and ended up moving to Charlotte, NC where I eventually worked to complete my Associate of Arts Degree at Central Piedmont Community College.  Being a very family-oriented person, I have always stressed the importance of knowledge and education to everyone.  

During the past 15 years, I got very involved in community organizations in Charlotte, NC. While there I served as the Vice-Chair of Precinct 210, Executive Board of the Mecklenburg Democratic Party, a former member of the Mecklenburg County Community Relations Board, and the Arts and Science Council Advisory Board for the Beattie's Ford Rd Corridor.  

I decided to move back home in March 2022 after 29.5 years to be closer to mom and family.  I have five younger siblings.  And although I lived in Charlotte, I was still very involved in the lives of family members that grew up in District 7.   

My Educational Background and Challenges:

My Associate Degree serves as a catalyst for me to work to provide future students with a strong foundation and the necessary tools to surpass my own achievements. My personal experiences and challenges have motivated me to emphasize the importance of education to future generations. It fuels my commitment to education and has enabled me to understand the challenges and opportunities students may face. I believe my experiences can inspire and guide students towards reaching their full potential. Whether it's a two-year certification or a four-year degree, education can provide valuable skills and opportunities. By sharing my story and promoting the value of education, I want to make a positive impact on the lives of others. I hope to help empower others to pursue their goals and unlock their potential. Education is indeed a valuable tool that can open doors to new opportunities and personal growth.

Voice of Students and parents:

I believe that one of my roles is to be a voice and guardian for all students, parents, and community members within my jurisdiction.  I have the responsibility to advocate for the best interests of the students, ensure educational equity, and represent the diverse needs and perspectives of the community. My role involves making informed decisions, setting policies, and working collaboratively with other trustees and stakeholders to create the most positive and inclusive educational environment for our students and teachers.

Education plays a crucial role as a foundation for a successful and rewarding life. It equips individuals with knowledge, skills, and critical thinking abilities necessary to navigate the complexities of the world. Education opens doors to opportunities, broadens perspectives, and empowers individuals to make informed decisions. It can provide the tools needed to pursue fulfilling careers, contribute to society, and adapt to a rapidly changing world. With education as a strong foundation, one can unlock their full potential and lead a more fulfilling life.

I have been actively engaging with parents, students, teachers, staff and community members to understand their concerns. By listening to their perspectives, I have gained valuable insights that will help me make informed decisions by approaching these conversations with an open mind and considering the diverse viewpoints presented. By effectively addressing the concerns raised, I can contribute to fostering a positive and inclusive community. I believe that by continuing to have these conversations after I am elected, I can affect positive change as a School District 7 Board Trustee.


Committee to Elect Gary Leake
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