By Taylor Boyd
Rob Martin is seeking the Dan River District seat on the Patrick County School Board as a write-in candidate.
Because he is a write-in candidate, Martin’s supporters must write his name on the ballot under the Dan River District section. His name must be written as “Rob S. Martin” for the vote to be considered legitimate.
Martin, 47, believes several big issues currently are confronting the school system, but the biggest is the financial situation of the county.
“I know the board of supervisors deals with that a lot, but I think there are grants and numerous other funding situations available to be able to help the Patrick County School system. I think we should work towards trying to get hold of some of those,” he said.
Martin said he also wants to invest in better technology to help with the future education of students.
“I think we all saw it, especially in the Dan River District, that when the kids went virtual, there’s a lot of people in this area that just do not have internet. When the kids were virtual and had to do a lot of stuff online, there were a lot of parents having problems and issues with that,” he said.
Martin said this issue goes hand in hand with the county, which also is dealing with the issue. But he said he wants to see more emphasis in the Dan River District.
He also believes the COVID-19 situation is still prevalent in the minds of many parents and school employees.
“I look forward to, if elected, hearing from administrators, teachers, parents, and citizens about plans that they wish” to see implemented, he said.
To pay for changes needed due to the challenges, Martin said the school division should be looking for federal and state money and applying for more grants.
“To be honest, the county has put itself in a really bad financial situation, I think when you’re on the school board you’ve got to look into where the monies we are going from the county, state, and federal government are going,” he said.
Just like budgeting a paycheck and itemizing living expenses, Martin said he wants to make sure all the money the school is receiving is going to help with the education and future success of students. “Teachers I know have worked hard, and I would like to see them rewarded for the hard work they’ve done. But that’s going to take a big dive into where the all the monies the school system is getting are going,” he said.
While he believes there are plenty of options to address and pay for these challenges, Martin said assistance from the supervisors will be required, and he looks forward to working together to tackle the difficult issues facing the school division.
As a father of four daughters, three of which have gone through Patrick County schools, Martin is a firm believer in parent and resident involvement in the decision-making process.
“I have seen, we’ve got a very good community in the Dan River District, and it takes everyone – parents, citizens, administrators, and teachers – working together. It just doesn’t happen because you listen to one group over another. You have to listen to everyone on an issue and get to a mutual position in it,” he said.
Martin said he also supports increased transparency in the school system because as he believes he does not get all the needed information from an outsider perspective.
“I think that frustrates teachers, administrators, and it definitely frustrates citizens sometimes. I am for full transparency when it comes to the school system. If elected, I will be forthcoming with everything there,” he said.
His perspective on transparency goes back to the village mentality.
“It takes everyone, and if only the administrators are able to speak out, you’re not getting everything. The teachers are there in the battlegrounds with our students and their successful futures. So, it’s going to require input from everyone,” he said.
While he feels the school system is not lacking in anything per se, Martin said the last year-and-a-half with COVID has everyone thrown off.
“It’s got everyone off-step in trying to look for new options as far as help with their kids. COVID-19 put a damper on everyone knowing with certainty which direction to go in,” he said.
Before COVID-19, Martin said the teachers and staff knew where to go like clockwork.
“We’ve got a very, very good school system, but right now I think the lingering concern is over the COVID crisis that is going on, and how do we get the kids continuing in their education,” he said.
As a father, Martin said he has seen firsthand the learning progress slowing down since the pandemic began almost two years ago, and he believes many parents have witnessed the same thing.
“Unfortunately, there are situations with students where they didn’t get all the help they deserved in the home environment when we were virtual,” he added.
Martin said county schools have always excelled due to the great teachers and administrators it employs.
“I’ve seen that through the years with my other children… Both participated in the D-Squared system, so when they graduated high school, they had a two-year degree and that is a benefit that a lot of places don’t have,” he said.
Because Patrick County is not the wealthiest locality, Martin said the program and other academic and trade-based programs help families that would otherwise struggle to get their kids through at least a two-year college degree without having to pay the greater expenses at another place.
The free meals program the division offers is another aspect he believes helps the school system to excel.
Martin said his father was an elementary school principal for more than 30 years, and he saw that for many students, the meals they received at school were the big meals each day.
“I want to see programs like that continue for our children,” he said.
Martin currently works for the Patrick County Sheriff’s Office as a law enforcement officer. He has worked in this profession for 20 years.
His 20 years of law enforcement experience will help earn the support of the voters.
“In law enforcement when you’re dealing with a case, you’ve got to look at every possible option. I feel that experience will help tremendously when dealing with so many moving parts in the school system,” he said.
Martin also brings the trust of his community to the table.
He previously considered running for the position but decided against doing so after learning someone else planned to seek the post.
Later, “I found out that Mr. Chaney (Leigh Chaney) wasn’t running,” and many asked Martin to step up and seek the post, he said, adding that Chaney has endorsed the write-in campaign.
A graduate of Carroll County High School, Martin attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Dayton, FL before joining the police academy. His wife, Amy, works as a Nurse Practitioner in the emergency department at Northern Regional Hospital in Mount Airy, N.C.
The Martins have four daughters: Brittany Martin, 24, who works as the manager of a Publix grocery store; Lexy Carico, 21, a graduate of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University who plans to pursue a physician assistant (PA) program; Reanna Carico, 20, a graduate of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, who is currently debating between applying for medical school or a PA program; and Madelyn Martin, 11, a sixth grader at Blue Ridge Elementary School.
In his free time, Martin enjoys piloting a plane, flying, outdoor activities, and messing with computers.