Harvest welcomes two new board members

Rev. Jane Johnson (left) and Dr. Paulette Simington (right)

August 24, 2015

     The Harvest Foundation welcomes two new members to its board of directors, Rev. Jane Johnson of Grace Presbyterian Church and Dr. Paulette Simington, executive director of special education and student services for Martinsville City Schools.

     Johnson said she was honored when asked to serve on the board.

     “My interactions with the staff and board at Harvest have been very welcoming and encouraging,” she said. “I would love to be part of Harvest because they reach out to people throughout the community and welcome them, and they celebrate the great things so many organizations are doing for our area.”      

     Under Johnson’s leadership at Grace Presbyterian, the church began a community resource center, The Grace Center Inc., which houses a reading enrichment program for elementary-age students called Rising Stars. They also organize a summer literacy camp called Project Literacy and a ministry to men and women called Living Stones.
     The Grace Center was the recipient of a PUP (Pick Up the Pace!) Grant from Harvest in 2014 to begin the Rising Stars program. Johnson said she believes the experience of being a grantee, along with her work throughout the community, gives her a unique perspective on the Harvest board.
     “I feel like I do have a learning curve, but I feel I come to the board with a different community perspective than most other members,” she said. “I think my work on the board will be an extension of my work as a pastor. I hope to be an advocate for voices that aren’t always at the table, and I hope to lend my experience and compassion for things that people struggle with in our community. I can be their voice.”
     Johnson served as president of the Martinsville-Henry County Ministerial Association from 2013-2014. She also is a member of the 2015 Community Investment Committee for the United Way of Henry County and Martinsville, the Speer Fund Committee of the Synod of the Mid-Atlantic, and the Church Development Committee of the Presbytery of the Peaks.
     Simington comes to the Harvest Board of Directors from a longtime career in education at Martinsville City Schools. She said being on the board will allow her an opportunity to serve the community and help improve the lives of its citizens.
     “Harvest is important to this community because it provides a framework for integrating resources and bringing people in our community together to build a better place for our citizens to live, work, and enjoy the opportunities available in our area,” she said. “I am looking forward to interacting with more people in our community and sharing ideas that will have a positive impact on the challenges we face.”

     Simington has worked for Martinsville City Schools since 1984. She has served in many capacities for the school system that include: instructor at Druid Hills Elementary School, guidance counselor, assistant principal and principal of Albert Harris Elementary School, principal of Patrick Henry Elementary School and principal of Martinsville Middle School. She’s also served as director of curriculum, assessment and federal programs and director of special education and assessment.
     When asked what she will bring to the Harvest board, Simington said, “I will bring an open mind and willing spirit. I am passionate about making a different in our community and contributing to transitioning Martinsville and Henry County into one of the best places in the world to live. I bring enthusiasm and the willingness to do the hard work to enhance the vitality of our community, as well as being a good steward of the foundation's assets to make sure resources are available far into the future long after we're gone.”
     Simington has served on many boards and committees for organizations including Virginia Council of Administrators of Special Education, Piedmont Regional Community Services, Piedmont Community Services, Patrick Henry Community College Foundation, education committee for the Martinsville and Henry County Chamber of Commerce and the YMCA Board of Directors. She’s also been a recipient of the Above and Beyond Award from Martinsville City Public Schools.
     Christopher Beeler, chairman of the Harvest Board of Directors, said he’s looking forward to what these new members will bring to the organization.
     “Rev. Johnson and Dr. Simington have both accomplished a great deal in their professional fields, and will bring new insight into how we do things at Harvest,” Beeler said. “Rev. Johnson is very skilled in youth education and involvement, and has a lot of experience in bringing communities together. Dr. Simington has been a part of our community for a long time and has a wealth of knowledge concerning the many social and educational issues facing our residents. We’re very fortunate to have their expertise and skills moving forward.”
     To find out more about The Harvest Foundation and its work throughout the community, visit www.theharvestfoundation.org



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