The heart of our campaign is based on 4 areas:
Accountability Curriculum Equity Safety (A.C.E.S)
It is my desire, as a new school board member, to bring to the table, sharp questions, innovative ideas, and fresh energy. When I am elected to the Gaston County school board, I will familiarize myself with the established routines and policies; challenge old assumptions, and share my perspective with my fellow board members. It is my goal to effectively make a positive difference in the work of the board, and to contribute most effectively to lasting change. I will strive to be the most effective advocate for the community’s educational vision and values.
My desire to serve as a school board member stems from the totality of my education, experience, training and service to youth that I have gained through working with citizens of Gaston County for over thirty-five years. My reputation, resume and work ethic speak for themselves as far as my ethical, moral and professional character. I will be honest, transparent and respectful in fulfilling a seat on the board for the Achievement Potential of Every Child. My platform (A.C.E.S.) will continue to be the foundation on which I stand.
The Gaston County school board is responsible for leading the school system in a way that ensures that school administrators, teachers, and support staff are held accountable for achieving the educational success of the students. This also includes the students, who, in my opinion, should have a firm investment in their own success.
Accountability starts at home with the parents and family members. It is important that the lines of communication be kept open so that parents be apprised of the progress of their child and academic opportunities offered. They must be made aware of the opportunities that students have for attaining educational success through various academic opportunities that the school system has to offer.
As a school board member, I will work with the board to provide up to date educational tools such as training in successful teaching strategies for teachers. Also, it is my goal to aid the board in finding new avenues of support for teachers such as teacher assistants (especially in the elementary grades) so that students will gain a solid foundation of basic skills to use as they progress through the system.
My belief is that the school board can provide a more diverse curriculum that is appropriate for all students. The curriculum must be relevant, attainable, ethically and culturally sound and useful for students to attain college acceptance, military entrance or viable employment for sustaining a productive and successful lifestyle after graduation.
To that end, I believe that students must have more opportunities to attend academies that offer specialized courses. Transportation to the academies can be offered to provide for more student attendance at the different schools .
Continued and additional collaboration with Gaston College and Belmont Abbey should be of upmost importance. Many students need to be able to take college courses in two-year programs such as, electrical repair, auto mechanics, plumbing, masonry and more.
Equity in the school system is important. As a board, we must strive to provide equity throughout the staff, students and facility services. Each school must strive to achieve equity in its hiring of qualified committed staff. We need to utilize local talent in our schools as much as possible so that students can interact with people they know and can adapt to these persons more quickly. We must strive to develop, retain and promote staff and administrators within our district. This will allow for more tenured, experienced, and committed personnel. Some schools currently do not have assistant principals. Focused staff training and retention equity for our schools would enable every school to have an assistant principal.
As our culture continues to include more students of diverse backgrounds and cultures, the school staff must continue to strive to be professionally committed to the needs of all students. Just as our Gaston County Schools mission statement reminds us, we must be committed to retaining qualified personnel of diverse backgrounds.
We must strive for equity in the monies we spend on all schools across the district; not only in academics but physical cosmetic improvements, athletic spending, equipment and health care.
The safety of our students and staff is of upmost importance. With the social climate that involves so much gun usage, our schools must continue to be a haven for our students and staff. My desire as a board member will be to continue developing, implementing and ensuring compliance to safety protocols and procedures. Our students and staff must have a safe environment in which to complete the education process.
Most if not all safety procedures, protocols, inspections and documentation that I helped develop and implement during my five and a half years as the Gaston County Schools Security Compliance Manager are still a vital part of why our District has not experienced an active shooter incident.
Safety must include mental health. Staff and students need assistance in areas of their psychological well-being. Because of the experiences many of our students and staff face in their communities, many times the results of those issues need to be addressed at our schools. We must continue and elevate our efforts to address these issues with qualified health professionals that are assigned to our schools and agencies with which we partner.
Most if not all safety procedures, protocols, inspections and documentation that I helped develop and implement during my five and a half years as the Gaston County Schools Security Compliance Manager are still a vital part of why our District has not experienced an active shooter incident. Our school system consists of over fifty school campuses, and numerous Central Office buildings across Gaston County. My duties and responsibilities included visiting all District schools and central office buildings to conduct safety compliance checks. I visited each building several times per school year. During at least one of those annual visits, I was responsible for requesting building administrators to conduct a safety drill which I graded on a scale of 1-100. Those drills included: active shooter lockdowns, building fire, weather, evacuations and bus fire evacuations.
Other training and protocols I developed or improved upon are teacher/staff Security Compliance visits, athletic security external audits, panic alarm test dates, whistle distribution to elementary and middle school teachers, Table Talk staff training, utilization of specific building and vehicles for high school graduation security and a scoring system for the external safety audits. My motto and strong belief are that in emergency situations “Every second every LIFE counts”. This is why training is so important.
One safety measure I will propose is for the school board to work towards on-field student-athlete safety. Each middle and high school should have an Athletic Field House for safety, security and privacy of student athletes and coaching staff that use our stadiums for athletic contest and other events.
Many times, the presence of thunder, lightning and heavy rainfall has forced the student athletics to run for cover in unsafe environments such as nearby wooded areas and under stadium bleachers. This field house would also provide safety and security during an emergency during athletic contest and other events such as graduations that take place on stadium fields. When applicable, prior to a permanent field house building being built, an unused mobile trailer unit can be placed in the stadium.
To further prepare our school staff, students, local law enforcement and other emergency response agencies, I will propose to institute a Mini Mock Active Shooter Drill. This is the next step in preparation for an intruder with a weapon incident. We already have protocols in place, but my goal is to continue to train, organize and prepare to save lives through more intense scenario-based practice sessions.