As Norfolk begins the transition to an elected school board, I believe voters can bring the greatest benefit to our children by casting their ballots for pediatrician Noelle Gabriel, MD.
I have known Dr. Gabriel for over 10 years and can personally attest to her character and the uniquely valuable combination of history, professional knowledge, experience and heart she brings to the School Board.
Dr. Gabriel is a native of Norfolk and a proud alum of Little Creek Elementary, Azalea Gardens Middle and Granby High, where her mother was a math teacher for many years. After graduating in the top of her class, she stayed in Norfolk to attend ODU, where she was awarded the school’s highest honor at her 2002 graduation: The Kaufman Award, which goes to a student “who has exerted an exceptional and constructive influence on the university, its students or the community by demonstrating the highest qualities of leadership and service.”
I met Noelle during the next phase of her life: medical school at EVMS, where she discovered her calling in pediatrics, eventually completing a residency in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters, where she now works in the emergency room.
As a pediatrician, Dr. Gabriel has extensive training and knowledge in the intellectual and psychological development of children. Her work in CHKD’s emergency room, her tenure on the School Board and being a mother of three has augmented her studies with hands-on experience tackling the challenges children, parents, teachers and administrators face today.
As a pediatrician myself, I understand better than most that pediatricians are essentially world-class problem solvers. Some young patients may arrive at our door with obvious maladies that have straightforward solutions, but those are the rarities. With children, nothing occurs in isolation. Everything happens within a complex matrix that includes the needs of siblings, the stability of the household, the safety of the neighborhood, the quality of child care, the communication between home and school and the demands of parents’ jobs, to list just a few of the factors that come into play.
Dr. Gabriel does more than note relevant symptoms to make a diagnosis. She must also detect and address any barriers that could prevent a child from completing the necessary treatment or follow-up and activate the necessary supports and system needed to overcome them. In a world of competing priorities, she knows what it means, and what it takes, to put the well-being of children first.
It truly takes a community to raise and educate a child. And, it takes highly motivated citizens with extensive leadership skills and a keen desire to tackle the difficult decisions School Boards face today. In her three years on the School Board, Dr. Gabriel has shown her ability to lead, problem solve solutions, and put Norfolk’s children first.
Norfolk has acknowledged the need to replace its appointed school board with one that is elected by its informed citizens. I encourage all eligible voters to make the most of this opportunity by electing Noelle Gabriel, MD, to help govern and improve Norfolk’s schools. I cannot imagine a better choice.
C.W. Gowen, Jr.