CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- New state Board of Education member Tina Combs, of Berkeley County, said her local involvement in the public school system combined with her business background will allow her to bring a unique perspective to the board.
Her experience as a mom to recent public high school graduates helps, too, she said.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin appointed Combs -- president and CEO of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce -- to the West Virginia Board of Education on Friday. She is replacing Jenny Phillips, who resigned after the board voted to terminate Superintendent Jorea Marple in November.
"Education has always been a passion for me, even though I'm not an educator. Education is such a key to economic development, and we need to provide a skilled and qualified work force in order to attract business. So, here at the chamber, education is something we've always recognized," she said.
In addition to serving as chairwoman on the Blue Ridge Community and Technical College Board of Governors and as treasurer for the Berkeley County Business Education Partnership, Combs also has headed different projects in the public school system, including serving on her Local School Improvement Council.
Outside of work, Combs has been involved with education on a personal level as a mother to two sons, with her youngest graduating from high school in 2011.
Both sons went on to college, one at Alderson-Broaddus College and one at Fairmont State University, helping Combs realize the importance of public school curriculum when preparing students in the state for higher education, she said.
"I've been involved with the school system fairly recently, and in working with the kids and parents closely, I think I can bring that perspective to the board," she said.
Combs said she does not have a specific list of priorities in mind to tackle as a state Board of Education member, but is instead "going into this with an open mind."
"I don't have my own agenda, per se. The board has done so much work, and I want to come in and help them move education forward in the state. The bottom line for me is: What can we do for our education system?"