Virginia Public Schools, Grades 1-12;
Bachelors, University of Virginia;
Masters, Virginia Commonwealth University
Community College, Faculty;
SW VA Community Corrections Administrator;
UVa-Wise, College Administrator
Married, with two sons who are graduates of Washington County Schools.
The most pressing need facing our local schools over the next four years is for us to take the steps necessary to reposition our teaching and facilities to meet the learning needs of today’s students. With ubiquitous technology, our current students have, from birth, learned and developed skills very differently than students did in the past. Their instant access to information changes what and how they need to be taught. The Profile of a Virginia Graduate that has been developed and is being implemented locally and statewide captures the essence of the knowledge and skills needed by our students, focusing on critical and creative thinking, collaboration, communication and citizenship.
School Board members, school administrators, individual school communities, parents and others in Washington County need to continue to provide the “real story” of education funding in Washington County. It is critical that requests for funds and financial reporting continue to be comprehensive, accurate, backed up by sufficient documentation, and accessible. It is important that elected leaders and citizens know how and where the schools spend money, where that money has come from, and what constraints have been put on various funds that have been provided. Maintaining a status quo in funding is not sufficient to our keeping pace with the rising costs of doing business.
The percentage of local funding in the County budget that goes to the schools, or “local effort,” has decreased by almost 10% in the past decade. It’s important that we examine what our priorities are as a community and put our dollars there.
Relationships with quality people in the schools create well-educated graduates. Therefore, it is essential that we continue to recruit, develop and retain quality teaching and support personnel. We need to support them in the changing teaching and learning environment and we need to ensure that they receive fair compensation for the challenging work that they do.
Yes, Washington County and Washington County Schools should have more detailed, long-term Capital Improvement plans. I, along with other School Board members, have regularly stated that position publicly as it relates to the Schools, with the request that we be looking ahead at least 10 to 20 years. That will require our considering the future of our aged buildings, our school population and possible school construction, renovations and consolidation. The Superintendent has, at the request of the School Board, begun investigating procurement options for a facilities study for the schools, to include enrollment projections.
To make Washington County Public Schools the first choice education option for parents and students, we need to ensure that there is quality in all that we do, and we need to communicate that to our communities. We need to publicize and celebrate our students’ educational and civic successes. Most of the reasons that I hear from parents for enrolling their students in places other than public schools are not due to specific activities or conditions in their local schools, but due to a belief that they can provide a different kind of educational experience for their children. Schools that engage families and students in sharing successes and experiences with those who are not part of the school population can influence others in their localities to be informed about what is available to them in the public schools.
The Standards of Learning should be minimum requirements. They were never intended to be the goal of our instruction nor to have the emphasis that they have been given. I agree that it is important for students to have mastered certain fundamental knowledge and skills, in order to access information and to think critically. The instant access to facts that students now have dictates skills that are very different from those found in many of the standardized multiple choice tests. Fortunately, assessment mandates, requirements and methods are evolving to reflect the changing learning environment.
If money were available, Washington County should establish various childcare and school-child connections. The need for affordable childcare dictates the choices made by a majority of parents and ultimately limits their access to many programs and services. If money were available, all students should be provided an opportunity to enroll in the schools’ PreK programs as currently established, and/or programs that are modified to allow more flexibility in children’s participation (such as several days per week or part of a year), that is preferred by some parents.