WINCHESTER — Elyus Wallace was recently appointed to the Winchester School Board to represent Ward 3, which had gone without representation for about two years.
The 38-year-old said he filed an application to be considered for the position because he believes that anybody who considers themselves a member of a community should be active in it.
Winchester School Board members are appointed by City Council. Terms are four years. Board members are not paid.
As someone who was born in Winchester and graduated from Handley High School in 2000, Wallace feels obligated to contribute to the place that helped raise him. He said he lost his parents at a young age and was raised by his grandmother, which was difficult for her to do at her age. So raising him really became a community effort, he said. Wallace credits several police officers and teachers for keeping him grounded and helping him succeed, despite him having a learning disability.
For the past four years, Wallace has worked as a detention specialist at the Northwestern Juvenile Detention Center.
He also is active in the community. He is starting his third year as a volunteer assistant football coach at Daniel Morgan Middle School, and he has been a volunteer at Friendship Fire Company since age 16. And he serves on Winchester’s Social Services Advisory Board.
He said he likes to connect people to community resources. “I try to be that bridge over troubled water.”
Wallace considers himself a community activist on issues that foster distrust between citizens and the police or other local governing bodies.
When the death of 20-year-old D’Londre Minifield in 2016 sparked community protests — authorities said his death was a suicide, while others claimed he was shot by police — Wallace said he worked with some of the young protestors and was eventually able to connect them with the Winchester Police Department.
“I can’t say it totally fixed everything, but it did at least for the moment get the two parties talking,” Wallace said. “I think a lot of kids learned a lot of things, and I think a lot of city officials learned a lot of things about their disconnect with the community.”
There is an ongoing civil suit in the case. The police officers were never criminally charged.
Wallace hopes everyone’s voice can be heard on the School Board through his appointment.
“I’m not hard to find,” he said.
He said people should feel comfortable contacting him if they feel something in Winchester Public Schools isn’t working the way it should.
“Everybody knows every system can always be improved,” Wallace said.