August 30, 2013
Danny Couch is the Board of Education’s
new Hatteras representative
By JORDAN TOMBERLIN
was back to school for Hatteras Island students and their parents this
week, and as they basked in the excitement that a new school year
brings—new teachers, new books, new classrooms, new friends, etc.—many
islanders may have overlooked a small, but very important, change in
the district’s leadership: the appointment of Danny Couch as Hatteras
Island’s representative on the Board of Education.
Couch is a
historian, storyteller, realtor, and a true native son. When he isn’t
working as a real estate agent for Hatteras Realty, Inc., he’s running
Hatteras Tours, a business he started that offers guided history- and
local lore-themed tours of the island.
He is also an active
member of the island community. He sits on the Board of Directors of
the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras, and, over the years,
has volunteered his time and expertise—and his tour bus—in support of a
number of local initiatives and organizations, including the local
elementary and secondary schools.
But his connections to the island's schools run much deeper than that.
“I am a product of this school system,” he said proudly. “From Head Start through 12th grade.”
now, his three children are part of that tradition, too. His daughter
Rae, 13, attends the secondary school, and his sons, Gideon, 8, and
Griffin, 6, both attend the elementary school, where his wife, Sherry,
serves as the principal.
In fact, many parents and students on
Hatteras Island may know him best as “Rae and Gideon and Griffin’s
Dad,” or simply as “Mrs. Couch’s husband.”
So, this past July,
when the current District 4 representative, Anthony Fletcher, resigned
his position, Couch seemed to be a natural replacement.
the vacancy was announced, he and three other island residents—Dave
Dixon, Mary Ellon Ballance, and Dave Conley (who ran against Fletcher
2012 election)—threw their hats in the ring.
For the selection
process, the Board of Education created a three-member
committee—Fletcher, Bea Basnight, and chairman Ben Sproul—which was
tasked with interviewing the candidates, recommending one of them for
appointment, and then relaying that suggestion to the rest of the board
The interviews took place on July 30 at the
administrative office in Nags Head, and when they were over, the
committee had decided—unanimously—to recommend Couch. They held
the final vote the following evening, and, once again, the board’s
decision was unanimous.
Couch was officially sworn in the following Tuesday, Aug. 6.
previous experience sitting on various boards and committees gave Couch
something of an edge. And so did the connections he has been able to
form through business ventures and community service efforts.
But ultimately, the decision was about what’s best for the students and employees that comprise Dare County Schools.
has three kids and a wife in this school system,” Fletcher said. “He
has quite a bit of stake in these schools and in doing what’s best for
[them],” he explained.
Of course, what Fletcher sees as strength, some community members see as a potential conflict of interest.
Couch acknowledged the concern about his wife’s position, but firmly denied its legitimacy.
responsibility is to empower and support the students and education
professionals [in Dare County],” he said, noting the fact that no
individual member can act alone, without the consent of the board.
cannot make any unilateral decisions,” he said. “It’s a seven-person
board. There’s not much of a way to use a school board position
for personal or political gain.”
It was a sentiment that
Fletcher reasserted, adding that, if a true conflict of interest did
crop up somewhere down the line, Couch could simply recuse himself, and
the board would handle the matter without him.
In the end, Fletcher said, “the assets that Danny brings far outweigh any potential conflicts of interest.”
As for Couch, he has been very clear on what he hopes to get out of this new position.
wants to make a difference,” he said. “And the schools are where you
should help out. If you can’t get satisfaction out of helping children,
then you’re not living well.
“I don’t have an agenda. I don’t
have a platform. I’m not interested in using this as a stepping
stone...We all have the same goal: the welfare of our students and our
community,” he said.
Couch will serve out the rest of Fletcher’s
term, which ends on June 30, 2016. In the spring of 2016, he will
have to decide if he wants to run to keep the seat.