SCHOOL BOARD OF HIGHLANDS COUNTY DISTRICT 5
This week, Highlands Today will be running question-and-answers from School Board of Highlands County District 5 candidates on why they are running and what they think are the challenges the school board faces. Early voting is from Aug. 16 to 23 and the primary is on Aug. 26.
Q: Provide a bit about your background – your profession or if retired what you did for a living.
A: I am a life-long citizen of Highlands County for over 33 years. I have dedicated 11 years to the City of Avon Park as a firefighter, and also work as a legal assistant for a local law office. I have been married to my amazing wife, Ashley, for 11 years and have two beautiful children. Madison, our daughter, will be in sixth grade at SMS this school year. Camden, our son, will be in second grade at Cracker Trail.
Q: Why do you want to be a school board member?
A: I have A Vested Interest, A Real Perspective, and A Servant’s Heart. I have been passionate about Highlands County Schools for many years. Not only are several members of my family employed by Highlands County schools, I am also proud to be a product of our local school system. I now enjoy seeing my own two children being taught and nurtured by our fine educators.
I am committed to being present and active on our local school campuses. I believe it is vital to know first hand the needs and challenges our schools face, to make informed decisions. It is my goal to uphold the morals, vision, and values of Highlands County schools, while listening to views and concerns from all stakeholders. I am dedicated to building a team-like atmosphere, while uniting our schools through open and effective communication. I will bring fresh ideas to the board and assist in being a problem solver to set and achieve goals toward success,
Q: What are the major issues facing the school board and how would you address them?
A: They include student achievement, the newly implemented Florida Standards, accountability, school safety, bullying and funding.
As for the Florida Standards, although they may not be the “perfect” solution, they are what our state has adopted. Moving forward, we must continue to be open and receptive to feedback on how we can continue to best meet the academic needs of our students and provide the resources necessary to promote the most optimal learning environment for our educators and students. Doing this, in combination with holding every stakeholder accountable for fulfilling his or her responsibilities, will in turn increase student achievement.
When looking at the issues of funding and school safety, I think we should consider the half-cent sales tax proposal, which I support. These funds, if approved, will provide the resources necessary to make vital repairs to the infrastructure and for safety and technology upgrades that are needed. This proposal is the fairest way of sharing the responsibility of raising these funds.
In addition, I would like to see an armed officer on duty at every school campus for the duration of the school day to help ensure the safety of our staff and students.
It is also crucial that our staff and students are trained and practice regularly how to respond in the case of an emergency.
When considering funding, it is important to know that I am committed to analyzing each aspect of the budget carefully and conservatively. I want to help ensure that every dollar spent is worthwhile, absolutely necessary, and that the board, as a team, are wise, informed consumers who have considered multiple sources and input from stakeholders.
Concerning the issue of bullying, I think it is very important that we find innovative ways to integrate character education and the recently implemented, Leader In Me program by Dr. Stephen Covey into our daily curriculum. This helps prepare students to have the social skills and leadership attributes desired by parents and future employers. It is my goal to see this program carried on throughout all school levels, including middle and high schools. I would also like to see a bully intervention plan in place for troubled students, which would outline steps the staff could take to help the student.
Furthermore, we must continue to come up with innovative ways to partner with our families. Parents are their child’s first and most important teacher.
Q: Are there any issues or policies, etc., that have been addressed by the board or superintendent, that you disagree with?
Q: Why are you the best person for the District 5 school board seat?
A: As a firefighter, my schedule permits me to be present and active on our local school campuses 2-3 days per week to pitch-in, listen, observe, and share in our schools’ culture.
Again, I feel that this is crucial to knowing firsthand the needs and challenges our schools face, enabling me to assist in making informed decisions that will be most beneficial to all stakeholders.
In addition, I am the father of students; the husband, brother, and nephew of teachers; the son of a SBHC employee; a product of our local school system; and have volunteered and served in many aspects of our school system. This all gives me A Vested Interest, A Real Perspective, and A Servant’s Heart.
Community and school involvement:
Active member for the past 6 years of:
Parent Teacher Organization
School Advisory Council
District School Advisory Council
Volunteered time attending monthly school board meetings
Contributing to Parent Involvement Plans
Attending the Stephen Covey Leader in Me training (local school campus)
Proctoring the FCAT assessment
Reading and speaking to students on multiple occasions
Judging the Tropicana Speech contest
Helping with behavioral and academic incentives for students
Lending a helping hand at special school functions and in the classroom
Active member of Sebring Fireman Inc.
Parade of Athletes Event Planning Committee
Deacon at Grace Bible Church
Member of Highlands County Fair Association
Outstanding Community Service Award 2004 (City of Avon Park)
Organized a team and participated in United Way’s Day of Caring
Participated in the Care Mob event (IB Program in partnership with the Highlands County Art League)
VBS Sports Camp volunteer for Grace Bible Church
Secretary/Treasurer for Avon Park Professional Firefighters, Local 3132 (2002 – 2012); secretary 2002 - present