As the newest member of the Martinsville City School Board, Dominique Hylton said he is glad to be part of the system that meant so much to him as a kid.
“Looking back at my academic career, I always enjoyed being involved and wanted to contribute back to my community,” said Hylton, who was chosen by Martinsville City Council to fill the remainder of the 3-year term vacated by Sammy Redd, who moved to Boston.
He said he is hoping “in some type of way to reflect the way the school system was when I was in school. I had an awesome opportunity afforded to me when I was in the school system. I knew that in time they had tapered off, then regained their strengths. I want to contribute to that” improvement.
Improvements in the past few years have been thanks to “the right leaders being in place,” starting with Superintendent Zeb Talley, he said.
Talley had been the assistant principal at his middle school, Hylton added, and “I’ve always appreciated his leadership. He’s a fair leader.”
Key issues the school system faces is getting the schools improved on the standardized testing, Hylton said. He said he has been looking at the “statistical data around which children should be; math and science are lacking. It stuck out to me.”
He also will advocate for more vocational programs. “All kids for whatever reason do not go college,” he said, and many of those who do go to college leave the area for better opportunities. The schools should “prepare children for jobs in our area.”
Ensuring safety in schools, “given the climate of today,” is another important issue, he said, adding that he plans to “observe where we are with that and see if there’s any room for improvement there.”
Although the school system works under a tight budget, “if we put our minds together, we can still meet goals, even under budget restrictions,” he said.
The schools have too high a rate of expulsion, he said, particularly among African-American students, “who accounted for about 60 percent of the expulsion or suspension rate.” It impacts the quality of those students’ education and “reflects poorly on us” as a community.
Overall, he said, he is interested in “making sure that our children are prepared once they leave school,” and that means with matters beyond the academic. He’s a fan of the United Way’s Dollars & Sense program, which puts teenagers through a simulation of making adult financial decisions. He would like to continue to bring in “programs like that that shed light on realistic expectations once you leave school and go out on your own. The more we can prepare them, the better.”
Hylton, the son of Leon and Gloria Hairston of Ridgeway and Dwayne Brown of Martinsville, was born and raised in Martinsville.
As a 2005 graduate of Martinsville High School, he was a heavily involved student. He was the president of the Student Council Association and Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA); a regional treasurer for FBLA; and the leader of the trumpet section in band.
After attending N.C. A&T University, Hylton worked for a while in insurance with focus on employee benefits, then worked in banking, and again back to insurance. For almost the past two years he has been an insurance agent with Burton and Company.
He became an elder of Rock Hill Primitive Baptist Church off Chatham Road in 2013.
He and his wife, Shatrice, a native of Roanoke, have a 3-year-old son, Zion, who attends Clearview Early Childhood Center.
“I think that’s an awesome direction they’re taking” with that preschool program, he said. “I wish that something like that had been available during my school time.”
Holly Kozelsky is a writer for the Martinsville Bulletin; contact her at 276-638-8801 ext. 243.