As a current member of the CCS BOE for 12 years, I want to continue our accomplishments in academics, personnel, and community relationships.
The prime responsibility of a school board member is to develop and establish policy for the school system. The board also has the responsibility to hire a superintendent that is innovative, caring, understanding and can lead over 10,000 children through ever changing educational experiences to prepare them to work in the global economy. I have served on the Chatham County BOE since 2008. Before I retired, I served my entire career with Chatham County Schools as a first grade teacher, coach, assistant principal, and principal. I have worked in schools across the county from Bonlee to Siler City to Pittsboro. I am also a graduate of Northwood High School. Knowing the history of CCS, where it has been, helps in understanding what direction the school system needs to go. Having lived in various parts of the county gives me a deeper understanding of its people and their diverse perspectives.
Attracting certified and competent teachers is the backbone of a successful school system. Successfully retaining the best teachers in Chatham is successful due to positive work environments in all our schools. If you like working where you are, you stay. In our region of 16 school systems, Chatham County Schools ranks 2nd in teacher attrition over the past 3 years. Last year we had teacher attrition at 12 % while the state average was 13.3%. Another important factor in retaining teachers is directly affected by the local pay supplement. Based on information that is published on the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction website, Chatham is 7th in the state for teacher supplements and 5th in the region. Our average teacher supplement is $6,481. A big thank you goes out to our Chatham County Board of Commissioners in providing the funds necessary to keep us at the top of the supplement pay scale not only in our region, but in the State.
With our recent experience in dealing with COVID-19 and distant learning, it has been made very clear that equitable access to high speed internet needs to be consistent throughout our county. Our Board of Commissioners will have to step up to the plate to provide funding to make county-wide broadband wireless internet accessible to all Chatham County residences. Students should not be punished for lack of internet accessibility due to where they live in the county. Distant learning will become the new norm in the future. At present, Chatham County Schools provides every student with a device; connectivity is the next big step for us to tackle.
Several specific programs that have been implemented for the students since I have served on the board are the AVID Program and the Chatham School of Science and Engineering.
The AVID Program, AVID, an acronym for Advancement Via Individual Determination, is a nationally recognized non-profit college readiness system with the mission to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society. For all high school students, the instructional strategies in the AVID college readiness system are used school-wide and emphasize writing, inquiry, collaboration, organization, reading, and critical thinking.
The Chatham School of Science and Engineering (CSSE) is an academically advanced public high school with students in grades 9-12. Students who apply, and are accepted, have the opportunity to complete an Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, or Applied Associate of Science degree by the time they graduate from high school. During their time at CSSE, students will take a blend of high school and dual enrollment college courses that will allow them to earn both a high school diploma and a two year college degree. CSSE was founded with the intent of attracting students who desire an Early College opportunity and experience. Interested students range from highly-driven, college bound students and students who often are underrepresented in college: minorities, students from those whose parents never attended college.
Neither important nor unimportant
I started my educational career as a first grade teacher at Pittsboro Elementary. I know first-hand as a father of four daughters and six grandchildren the importance of preparing children to be life-long learners. Providing mandatory pre-kindergarten by the State is long overdue. The implementation of kindergarten became reality in the late 70’s and made a tremendous impact on the educational trek for each child. The implementation of state-wide Pre-K is not a matter of how, but when. The ever changing landscape of standardized testing has forced school systems to gear their instruction and the student’s learning process to begin earlier in their lives. I am not a staunch supporter of extensive standardized testing, but we do need to give all our children the best preparation as they embark on their school careers. The writing is on the wall, and in the very near future, the State will begin phasing in Pre-K like Kindergarten was phased in during the 1970’s.
Nothing is more important to the future of our children and our country than a solid K-12 education based on academic fundamentals & citizenship.
The school board must establish trust and confidence among all stakeholders (parents, teachers, students, citizens) and provide positive leadership. My experiences as a career soldier, businessman, and parent have prepared me well to meet these challenges.
I grew up in a small town in West Virginia, graduated from West Point, spent 28 years in the Army, and retired as a Colonel. Since, I have worked with large defense companies and managed a $100M division of a major defense firm. Currently, I consult for the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina and direct the NC Defense Technology Transition Office. I have a MS from Purdue University and a graduate of the US Air Force War College in National Security Strategy. Moreover, my wife and I are the parents of 3 adult children who attended public K-12 schools in NC, five other states, and overseas – seven different school systems! Our children all graduated from NC universities and went on to earn advanced degrees.
Together, these experiences have broadened my perspective on public education and prepared me to build that trust and confidence in your school board through positive leadership, efficiency, effective communication, teambuilding, proper and on-going planning, innovation, and informed decision making.
Most school systems struggle with attracting and retaining enough topnotch teachers. We can’t have quality education without enough quality teachers. Better pay is only part of the solution. We must realistically assess the non-paid burdens placed on teachers that detract from time required to teach the basic academic curriculum and identify those we can offload. We must balance development of special programs with prioritizing academic fundamentals. Teachers must know they have a voice with the board and will be heard. The bottom line is teachers must know how much they are valued and appreciated, and pay is only part of this equation.
We have several fine programs in our schools: School of Science & Engineering; Chatham Promise, Kindergarten Readiness Camp, AVID, and leadership courses taught by our School Resource Officers (Sheriff Deputies). These all should be sustained.
However, schools have a tendency to focus on the top and bottom 10% - 15% of students (in terms of academics, athletics, discipline) and the programs that support them. The vast middle student population is often overlooked and disenfranchised. This is the group that needs more organized activities and attention, for it is this group that either improves or deteriorates. So, I support expanding extracurricular activities for the middle schools (supporting students in their most formative years); teaching leadership and citizenship at every level; and establishing a voluntary student mentor program pairing more senior students with junior level students to foster a climate of guidance and support from peers. Finally, I would push for establishing JROTC at our high schools. These investments are essential to meeting benchmarks and avoiding statistics such as 50% of our students not meeting grade level requirements for reading or math. Student programs focused on leadership, genuine care and concern, individual responsibility, and accountability work. And as teachers will be needed to run many of these programs, we must pay them to do so.
See above, but so much more needs done especially with the middle-performing student population.
Neither important nor unimportant
Nothing is more fundamental to the future of our children and our country than a solid kindergarten through 12th grade education. Throughout my career, including 3 years of mentoring cadets at West Point, I witnessed how a poor grasp of academic fundamentals and study skills quickly diminished one’s confidence, interest, and ability to succeed. As I have witnessed in my own grandchildren, pre-kindergarten fosters early and lasting confidence and a lifelong eagerness to learn.