Candidates for the Yadkin County School Board will be on the ballot this spring and those elected will take office on June 30. There are three seats open on the school board, which is are non-partisan offices.
Incumbents Diane Hampton and Howard McKnight, who is serving as chairman of the school board, are both running for re-election. Also in the race are newcomers Sam Crews, Jamie Dodge and Tim Weatherman.
One-stop early voting will begin on April 24 and Election Day is May 6.
All of the candidates running for the Yadkin County School Board will participate in a Candidate Forum hosted by the Yadkin County Chamber of Commerce at the Yadkin County Courthouse at 6 p.m. on April 22. Attendees at the event will have an opportunity to ask questions of the candidates.
Kitsey E. Burns can be reached at 336-689-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.
Diana Hampton has served two previous terms on the Yadkin School Board. Hampton, 52, of Yadkinville is a civil engineer with the North Carolina Department of Transportation. She has two sons who both graduated from Forbush High School. Hampton said she initially became interested in serving on the school board when she faced issues while her sons were in school.
“They weren’t being challenged enough,” Hampton said. One of Hampton’s primary concerns was the lack of advanced placement classes.
“[Yadkin County high schools] had no advanced placement classes and didn’t even know what they were,” Hampton said. “That is one of the reasons I ran for school board. Now our kids have that choice and it makes them so much more competitive.”
Hampton said that her main concerns for school children and teens in Yadkin County are that they are academically challenged and have a plan for their future career or college.
“All kids need to be challenged,” Hampton said. “Each one has a gift, sometimes it takes a little bit to find it. Teachers and administrators need to challenge our kids and see what their gift is and help them do the best they can.”
Howard McKnight, 70, of Boonville, spent 35 years teaching. He retired from Forbush High School where he taught biology. McKnight has served on the Yadkin County School Board for 12 years and said his involvement on the board stemmed from his career in education.
“I want to continue to see our students achieve and succeed,” McKnight said. “We’ve made a tremendous amount of progress in the last few years. We just want to continue.”
One of the issues of concern for McKnight is the fact that school calendar start and end dates are dictated by the state. McKnight said he would like to see more local control over the school calendar so that exams could be completed prior to the Christmas holiday. McKnight said he hopes to work with the school board, county commissioners and local legislators to help give the local schools more control over their own calendars.
McKnight also said he wants to see Yadkin County students “continue to achieve high test scores and get the best education possible.”
“My first goal is to have the best interest of the children at heart and serve them to the fullest extent we can,” McKnight said. “The children come first and we want [parents] to know we put them as our top priority.”
Jamie Lee Dodge
Jamie Lee Dodge, 38, of Yadkinville, serves as chief of the Yadkin County Rescue Squad, where he has volunteered for 20 years. He has a 15-year-old stepson and a 2-year-old daughter and he said his children are the reason he decided to run for Yadkin County School Board.
“I want to make sure they get the best education possible,” Dodge said. “I think all the kids in the county need the best education possible.”
Dodge said, if elected, he hoped to ensure that the school board used funds to best provide for the needs of the students. He also said higher pay for teachers should be a priority.
“Some kids are doing without some things they need. A lot of classes are sharing books and I don’t think that’s right. We need to better utilize our resources,” he said.
Dodge said he has dedicated his life to his county and community and will continue to do so if elected to the Yadkin County School Board.
“I will do everything I can to make sure our kids have everything they need and are safe while they are at school.”
Tim Weatherman, 49, of Jonesville, is an ITO system engineer with Lowe’s Companies Inc. Weatherman has a daughter and twin sons who all attended a Yadkin County school from kindergarten through high school graduation.
Weatherman said his top three priorities for Yadkin County Schools are to ensure that the children are academically challenged, that the system can keep and obtain the best faculty members, and to ensure that the schools in Yadkin County are enjoyable places to teach and to learn.
“I’ve been a student, parent and substitute teacher in the Yadkin County school system. I am running for the school board to continue to serve my community by contributing my time, talents and passion to help our students achieve educational excellence and to grow into adults who are well-prepared,” Weatherman said.
“Board members should play a leadership role in the community, proactively seeking greater involvement and responsibility on the part of parents. We need to make sure we listen to our superintendent, faculty, students and parents and take them into consideration when planning for a better future for our children. Not all students learn at the same rate, we need to see what we can do to meet the needs of every child to make sure they are prepared for the next step in life.”
Sam Crews, 43, of Yadkinville, works in estimating, sales and management at Johnson’s Modern Electric. He has a daughter at Forbush High School and two sons at Forbush Elementary School.
Crews said the three things he thinks are most important for successful schools in Yadkin County are local control over school curriculum, rewarding good teachers and safety for the students.
Crews said of the Common Core curriculum, it is “a program that we on the local level know is an absolute disaster.”
“The standards that have been implemented do three things: one, these usurp local control; two, impede academic achievement; and three, undermine family privacy. Anytime we see the federal government impose their beliefs on local communities, we should all be wary. I believe in personal responsibility with limited government intervention. We as a local school district should be able to pursue our own goals that will help the children of Yadkin County achieve the highest possible success. Common Core, as most parents know, is a flawed federal standard that should not be refined but rather discarded into the brush pile of failed federal policies,” Crews said.
Crews also said he was “blessed and fortunate enough to be raised here in Yadkin County and have lived most of [his] life here.”
“The teachers of this county left a lasting impression on me and now that I have had children of my own within the county’s schools, I realize even more so how important good educational leadership is. Yadkin County should reward our teachers who excel in their profession and make sure we have the best and brightest teaching our children. It has been asked before, ‘what is a good teacher and what constitutes a good teacher?’ If one looks at teachers this way, then any teacher should be randomly hired with no concern for the outcome of the hire. I have seen in my lifetime both good and bad teachers and I want to make sure Yadkin County has the best for all of our children. The good news is we have so many of these top teachers now and I want to make sure we keep them,” he said.
On the topic of safety, Crews said it is a “huge concern for parents” and said he would “like to visit any measures that would better ensure the safety of our children while at our schools.”
“I am running for the board of education because I believe I can be a difference maker for the betterment of our children,” Crews said. “Being a resident of Yadkin County for many years, I understand Yadkin well and am a huge supporter of our schools, school administrators and faculty. I love many of the teachers that have taught my children over the years as they have been such a positive influence in their lives. I also look back fondly upon certain teachers that left a lasting and positive impression in my life as well. If elected, I plan to make honest and thoughtful decisions by listening to the administrative staff, our teachers and certainly the parents, who I am one of. Most importantly, my strength comes from God and I will rely on the gifts and wisdom he has afforded me to try and represent all of Yadkin County. I have coached and still coach many of the children from various schools in the county and I know firsthand, they are our most precious commodity and we owe it to them to do everything we can to make Yadkin County the best county in the state for education.”