"My positions on issues and my political philosophy are greatly influenced by my life experiences. My parents were both products of the Great Depression and the drought that followed in the Midwest. They overcame poverty through sheer determination; they worked hard, took risks, accepted responsibility, persevered, and marveled at their good fortune. They taught us that America is a great country where anyone can succeed if given the opportunity. They urged us to get a good education and leave the world a better place."
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Verla Clemens Insko was born in Decatur, Ark., the third of four children in a farming family that moved to Modesto, CA to escape the ravages of the drought that followed the Great Depression. During WWII, her father served in the army in France. The daily world and national news was a routine, important part of life for the family. It was a habit that, for Verla, evolved into a lifelong interest in government and a commitment to social justice.
During her elementary years in Modesto public schools, she developed a love of reading and a curiosity about the natural world. Her high school counselors guided her into a college prep curriculum. With the help of a work-study program and low tuition, Verla received an B.A. in Biology from Fresno State College, becoming the first in her family to graduate from college. Always active in her church, Verla did graduate work at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley. That was followed by a graduate internship in education at UC-Berkeley and her first position as a junior high school science teacher.
At Burbank Junior High School in Berkeley, Verla was on one of the first team-teaching projects in the U.S. When her husband, Chet, accepted a position at the University of Hawaii, Verla transferred to the Kamehameha Schools, a residential school for children of Hawaiian descent and one of the most highly endowed schools in the world. Their first son was born in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The family moved to Chapel Hill in 1965 and welcomed their second son, Kurt, in 1966. Verla became a full-time mother and a part-time community activist. She tutored students that were behind their classmates, joined the local Smart Start Board and was Board Chairman of the Orange County Womenís Center. She gained political experience on Howard Lee's historic campaign to become the first black mayor of a predominately Southern city and then as Chair of the Orange County Democratic Party. Her first elected office was to the Chapel Hill Carrboro Board of Education; she later moved to the Orange County Board of Commissioners. She was appointed to the Board of Directors for the Orange Water and Sewer Authority, where she was chair for two years. After working on David Priceís campaign for Congress, she worked as a district legislative assistant in his Raleigh office where she solved constituent issues and learned about the power and limitations of government. After moving to the UNC School of Medicine as the program administrator for the UNC Sickle Cell Program, she became a part-time student and earned a Masterís in Public Administration.
In 1996, a seat opened up in the North Carolina House, and Verla was elected to serve in the 1997-98 session of the NC General Assembly. Now, Verla is completing her 11th term in office and is running for her 12th. For more information on her work in the NC House, go to "About."
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