Van-Far graduate Linda K. Dothard, formerly Linda K. Wheeler, recently became the first African-American School Board President of the Rock Island, Ill. School Board. She is also the first African-American female or male to be elected president of a school board in the entire Quad City area. The area includes Illinois cities Rock Island, Moline, and East Moline as well as the Iowa cities of Davenport and Bettendork.
“I didn’t set out to make history, however, because I am so passionate about education, it just happened,” Dothard said. “I am proud to serve as an encouragement to African-Americans of all ages. We have had to face and continue to face so very many challenges in our society.”
Dothard, who graduated from Van-Far in 1971, was elected president for District No. 41 that serves 6,800 students.
She has been a member of the Rock Island Board of Education for 15 years and previously served as Vice-President. Her seat will be up for re-election in 2015.
Previously, she was the first African-American to ever be on the school board at Rock Island.
Dothard shares this unique history with her brother Larry Wheeler, who resides in Vandalia and is currently the lone African-American to be elected to the Van-Far R-I School Board.
“I am especially honored to share this accomplishment with my brother who I know also works very hard on behalf of all the students he represents at Van-Far Jr./Sr. High,” Dothard said. “Larry is an inspiration to me because he is an older brother and I see his passion for doing the best for all children no matter who they are or who their parents are. He just goes about doing his job as a focused, committed, and excellent school board member.”
Dothard says she attributes her success as a result of influence from her parents, grandparents, family members, and friends/classmates along with teachers from her years at Van-Far.
Schwab and Mrs. Marie Miller were, in my humble opinion, two of the best English teachers I have ever been exposed to during my educational years, which includes my years of college up to a Masters Degree. I have said many times they were two of the best in the nation.”
The Wheelers are the children of the late Mr. Norman Wheeler and Mrs. Dorothy Wheeler.
“They taught their children to be hard workers, respectful, and caring for others in a very special way…,” Dothard said.
Dothard is currently employed for the Rock Island Arsenal as an Ammunition Systems Analyst. Wheeler is a long-time, devoted employee of Waters Furniture.