Glenda Weinert brings variety of experience to county school board

FOR THE KIDS: New Buncombe County Board of Education member Glenda Weinert says kids taught her to be a better listener during her career running child care centers. Photo courtesy of Weinert

From child care centers to colleges, Glenda Weinert’s education experience has influenced students young and old. But it’s her business expertise and political leadership as former chair of the Buncombe County Republican Party that make her a unique addition to the Buncombe County Board of Education.

Long before her business and political exploits, Weinert started working for her mother’s child care facilities as a teenager, where a lifelong passion for children’s well-being was sparked.

“Honestly, the children are the best. I love children. And they respond well to me,” Weinert says. “It’s all of our responsibility to make sure that we’re doing the best and the most that we can for our kids. And we should all have an interest in it, to be quite honest. Because that’s the future, but it’s also the present.”

That’s why when Buncombe County Board of Education member Amanda Simpkins announced her resignation May 15, Weinert submitted an application for the position the very next day. After an initial meeting scheduled to appoint Simpkins’ replacement ended in a stalemate, the board picked Weinert from a pool of 27 applicants June 6 to fill the at-large seat at least until November, when voters will weigh in.

Weinert says she plans to run in the general election to keep her seat. If elected, she would be one of two registered Republicans elected to the local board, the other being Amy Churchill.

Board member Kim Plemmons says she’s known Weinert for several years through their work with the Buncombe County Schools Foundation and Children’s Well-Being League and nominated Weinert for the position because of her passion for young students.

When it comes to Weinert’s minority political affiliation compared with the rest of the existing board, Plemmons asserts that politics rarely, if ever, comes up on the board, and it has no place when discussing school issues.

“Anything related to public education should not be partisan. It should be about having people who genuinely care about public education, and put children first,” she says.

Weinert, says both Plemmons and Churchill, fits the bill.

Giving back

Weinert wasn’t always sure she would pursue an education-related field. As she would later instill in her business students as an adjunct professor at various colleges, Weinert ran with what life presented to her.

“When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Well, in my case, life gave me the opportunity to take over a child care business. So I took a child care business and grew it. And that became my expertise,” she says.

After receiving a master’s degree in business administration and organizational management from Georgia’s Kennesaw State University, Weinert moved back home to Asheville so her mom could retire after 25 years as owner and operator of Little Beaver Child Care centers. After taking over, she grew the business to six locations around Buncombe County to serve more than 550 children.

During her 16 years at the helm, Weinert says, she loved the relationships she built with children.

“There’s nothing better than to watch a kid grasp a concept or help them understand something and be able to work with them as they progress,” she says.

In her role as teacher, she realized that children teach adults how to live, if adults slow down enough to hear them.

“When you think you know something, or you think you understand somebody, you typically find out that if you listen a little bit more, there’s a whole lot more to learn. I think children have taught me to stop talking so much and listen a whole lot more. Because assuming and taking things for granted will prevent you from really understanding who they are and who they want to be,” she says.

At Little Beaver, Weinert worked with Buncombe County Schools frequently, providing after-school and summer care for the district’s students.

Weinert earned a doctorate in business administration from the University of Phoenix in 2014 and then taught business and management classes at A-B Tech, UNC Asheville and Lee University, a Christian university in eastern Tennessee where she earned her undergraduate degree.

Teaching adults allowed her to share her experience running businesses such as the child care facility while widening her own understanding of the world through students that largely knew what they wanted.

“I’m very much a people person. And so in teaching with adults, whether at the undergraduate level or graduate level, they’re there for a specific reason, because they want to grow and become something that they’ve determined is important in their life,” she says.

More recently, she purchased six Firehouse Subs locations in Western North Carolina over seven years with her husband, Clint.

“We bought them because of the way they give back to the community and the fact that they support first responders and firemen,” she says. Her stores have given at least six grants of between $25,000 and $40,000 to first responders, including the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office and French Broad Fire Department, among others, she says.

“You’ve got to be good to the place you live. To me, it’s about helping support all those people that are out there helping us. I think first responders are those kinds of people. Teachers are those kinds of people and [so are] school boards.”

Atypical Republican

In the midst of her work in business and education, Weinert, who has been a registered Republican her whole life, stuck her toe into politics.

In 2012, she ran for chair of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, losing in the Republican primary. In 2018, she ran and lost the District 2 seat to Democrat Amanda Edwards. In 2020, she took a stab at the District 1 seat on the board, losing to another Democrat, Terri Wells.

In 2021, Weinert became chair of the Buncombe County Republican Party for a two-year term. Chair Doug Brown defeated her at the 2023 GOP convention, and she says she is no longer an active member of the party.

Weinert describes herself as “fiscally conservative, but community-minded” and has mixed feelings about her time leading the local Republican Party.

“I really wanted to open the dialogue so that we could communicate with each other better. I think both [Republicans and Democrats] bring value to the conversation, but I’m not sure we spend enough time listening so that we can come up with good ideas and good processes together. And my intent was to try to facilitate that. I’m not sure I accomplished it. But that was my intent,” she says.

Now one of only two Republicans on the county school board, Weinert hopes she can open the dialogue further between the Democratic-majority school board and Republicans who frequently attend school board meetings. Some in Weinert’s party often speak passionately about controversial subjects such as the removal of certain books from school libraries, LGBTQ+ issues and parental rights in their children’s education. Weinert would rather focus on communication and collaboration across party lines.

“The local GOP party here is certainly not in opposition to the school board,” Weinert maintains. “What I hope is that I will have opportunities to open dialogue [between the school board and Buncombe GOP] so that there are no assumptions and misgivings without them having all the information. I hope to be able to bridge the gap and facilitate conversation.”

In the face of some state-level Republicans such as gubernatorial candidate Mark Robinson advocating for the elimination of the N.C. Board of Education, Weinert remains a staunch supporter of public schools.

“Education is critical to any community. And I think access to the strongest and best public education that we can provide and build is critical to not just Buncombe County but any community’s future,” she says.

In her time on the board, Weinert hopes to improve and increase parent involvement in the school system as one of her top priorities.

“I’m not saying they don’t exist now, but I think that there are ways that we can look at strengthening that partnership.”

Beyond that, Weinert hopes voters will get to know her as a person and supporter of schools and not judge her for her political affiliations when they vote in November.

“I’m proud to be a Republican, because I’m a fiscal conservative, but I am not your typical Republican. And I want people to get to know me, from my heart of who I am, not the label or the stigma that gets put on me because of my beliefs.”



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One thought on “Glenda Weinert brings variety of experience to county school board

  1. Enlightened Enigma

    We should all call for the elimination of the Federal Dept of Education, the NEA and the NCAE to achieve better results in government schools.

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