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Longtime educator, advocate joins the Board of Education

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Dr. Millicent Rainey, left facing the camera, takes her oath of office on Wednesday, Jan. 27 administered by Judge Beverly Scarlett. Rainey’s daughter, Letitia Rainey Howard is holding the Bible. Rainey fills the vacant position left by Lawrence Sanders.


Dr. Millicent Rainey may be the new face on the Orange County Board of Education, but her service to the school district spans over many decades.

Sworn in by Judge Beverly Scarlett and with her daughter, Letitia Rainey Howard holding the Bible, on Wednesday, Jan. 27, Rainey took her oath of office for the school board.

“This, I consider really an honor to have the opportunity to serve,” Rainey said to her new collegues. “... I am really pleased to be able to join you and work with this board because there are a number of things that I see and others see and, I’m sure, you see as I listen to the presentation that we need to work on, things that we need to improve. And I want to work with you as we continue to try and make, or sustain, Orange County Schools the first choice for families.”

The board appointed Rainey at its Jan. 11 meeting after interviewing candidates for the position. Rainey will serve for the next six months in a position vacated by Lawrence Sanders, who resigned for a career opportunity.

A native of Orange County, Rainey’s history with Orange County Schools goes way back. She attended school at Efland Elementary School and graduated from Central High School.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and English from Winston-Salem State University, a master’s degree in administration, supervision and middle grades education from N.C. Central University and a doctorate in education administration and leadership from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. She is also certified in 11 licensure areas.

Rainey began her educational career in her home county in 1965 before integration.

“I worked in 1965 at Aycock School,” she said. “Then I left Orange County in ‘66 and then I came back in ‘69 to ‘96. Then I worked as a teacher. I’ve taught at just about all of the schools except the new schools as a teacher and then as supervisor, director of instruction, assistant superintendent—served as interim superintendent twice. This is my 50th year in education.”

In 1996, she retired from OCS and went to Bennett College in Greensboro where she worked for 17 years and was provost when she retired in 2013.

Despite being retired two times over, Rainey has continued her involvement with OCS by running a tutorial program in reading and English language arts for younger students.

“I would always visit the schools where I had students and I saw a lot of things that were interesting,” she said.

After two years, Rainey closed the tutorial program to take on a volunteer role at Efland-Cheeks Elementary School, but first she would have to renew a license.

“By the time I got that done and sent it in, Mr. Sanders resigned,” she said. “... I spoke to several people and said, ‘Well, maybe I’ll do this and make some kind of contribution there.’”

Rainey said the current superintendent and administration are doing an excellent job, but she was interested in working with the board make some changes.

“I am interested in working with the board these six months and looking at how things can be improved,” she said. “I’m specifically interested in diversity, curriculum, diversity of faculty and staff and looking to improve communication to all of the public. We do a great job of communicating, but I know that there are those parents out there that don’t understand a lot about the report cards and the EOGs and all of these different things. I think that we just need to do a better job of trying to communicate to all of the public. The ones that we don’t normally get to.”

Board members said they were looking forward to working with Rainey.

“I am deeply honored and feel very privileged to be serving with you,” Board Chair Donna Coffey said. “I am so excited.”

Dr. Stephen Halkiotis said the district would benefit from Rainey’s experience.

“If there ever was anybody deserving to be sitting in that chair, it’s someone who spent a better part of their life in this building, someone who spent the better part of their life trying to improve education for the children of Central and Northern Orange,” he said. “I welcome you. I will help you any way that I can and God bless you for your willingness to serve.”