Nancy Latham's mission on York's school board was "true and simple."
"As long as you keep it in mind that you want what is best for the boys and girls, you'll arrive at great conclusions," Latham said. "That's why you're there, for the boys and girls."
Latham kept that attitude for the 16 years she served on the York School District One School Board. She decided not to seek reelection, leaving the remaining board members and a few newcomers to continue her mission.
"I've been through four superintendents," Latham said. "Every superintendent has different goals and things they want to accomplish, but the one thing that stayed steadfast is that everyone kept the best interest of the children up front."
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The vacant seat Latham filled 16 years ago was left by her husband, Bill, who was a teacher at Lockhart in Union County and had served on the board for 10 years before he died in 1992. He died in July and his term with the board ended in November, Nancy decided to run for his seat and won.
Latham said family was one of the determining factors in her retirement, although spending time on the board also provided plenty of opportunities to see them. Her daughters Mary Ashley Gifillan and Kelly Burton attended York Comprehensive High School when she took her seat at the school board, and they now teach in the district at Hickory Grove-Sharon Elementary and Jefferson Elementary School, respectively.
Latham said their chosen career is a family right of passage.
"It makes me very proud that they chose the teaching profession," Latham said. "Their father was a teacher before them, and they have a lot of aunts that are teachers, so it's sort of a family thing."
Gifillan said her parents inspired her and her sister to become teachers by preaching the value of education and community.
"They made sure we worked hard and put school first," Gifillan said. " They taught us the value of education and it was really important for us to give back and teach in the county where we grew up."
Gifillan said the board is losing a good one.
"She has looked out for the students and represented the community well," Gifillan said. "She gave it 100 percent."
Bob Hall, former member of the York School Board, echoed Gilfillan's thoughts.
Hall was on the board with Latham for 14 years before retiring two years ago. Hall said the children were Latham's first priority.
"In every decision we made, she worried about how it would affect the children," he said. "The district will miss her."
Latham listed some pleasant things about the board that she will remember.
"I'll miss the camaraderie that we had on the school board," she said. "I have thoroughly enjoyed all the administrators and teachers I've worked with. I can't give enough praise to our teachers."
In praising the teachers, Latham is also praising herself and the entirety of the board. They came up with programs like "School to Work," which integrates students into the workplace to prepare them for life after high school, and began the use of Novanet that helps students catch up in their studies. In her 16 years, Latham has seen through many other changes in the classroom.
"The technology has made a big difference in education," she said. "I think our curriculum has strengthened, we're offering more challenging curses and we're better preparing students for college. I think we're giving them the tools they need to go out there and face life's challenges."
Latham has worked with everyone that currently serves on the board, and believes they will continue her mission to positively affect the lives of the children in York schools.
"I think in every decision I've ever had to make on the board I've always tried to ask myself 'what is best for the boys and girls,'" Latham said. "As long as board members continue to ask that question when they make decision we'll be alright."