Education is at the core of Greenville’s current and future success. Whether we are working on recruiting the next BMW, building the next Iron Yard, or improving Financial Stability within special emphasis neighborhoods, our educational system is the key to unlocking our community’s potential.
Since 1997, I have devoted my career and public service efforts to ensuring every child has the best opportunity to receive a quality education. I am convinced we have excellent schools, equipped with some of the best teachers and administrators in the Southeast. If I am elected, I plan to continue my work strengthening relationships between schools, non profits, churches, neighborhoods, families, and our community.
As a school board member, I plan to provide leadership for District staff and community leaders to identify opportunities to engage community in school efforts. This collaborative spirit will not only strengthen our schools, better align education with post High School success, but it will allow us to bring in community partners who can help reduce taxpayer costs for many of these interventions.
Expand Parent Engagement Opportunities
Education begins at home, with parents and caregivers, who should be equipped with resources to be their child’s first and most important teacher. I believe that if every child was read to 15 minutes a day, had a consistent medical home, and was enrolled in a quality childcare setting, we could have a community where every child enter schools on track and ready to succeed.
Over the past several years we have supported the Greenville County Schools by partnering on several parent engagement strategies including: Countdown to Kindergarten , Parents as Teachers, Perry Preschool Program, and Nurse Family Partnership. These evidenced based home visiting programs provide opportunities for parents, teachers, nurses, and students to work with one another in a non-threatening environment, ensuring a relationship of trust is built between the home and school. Teachers and parents who participate in these programs report stronger relationships between family and school, improved volunteerism, and higher student performance.
Strengthen Relationships between Schools and Community
We need to help rebuild the relationships between schools, neighborhoods, non-profits, businesses, and families. The schools should not be expected to handle every challenge our students face. Whether it is teen pregnancy, hunger, homelessness, nutrition, school safety, or mentoring, our schools do not have to be the sole provider of services and interventions. At last count, there were over 400 non profits in Greenville County, including churches, service clubs, and neighborhood organizations. The involvement of these partners not only strengthen our schools, but do so without putting the burden on the tax payer funded school system. We could build partnerships that would allow our schools to identify “non core functions” in their work and hand them over to qualified and experienced partners at a savings to taxpayers.
Consider our pregnant teen crisis: Years ago, there was a district operated Teen Parent program where all teen moms were sent for school. Budget cuts made it necessary for the district to close the program. I was on the SIC at Greenville High when we wrestled with what to do with these teens who were now being returned to their schools for services. We brought together non-profit partners, social workers, and community leaders, and made a list of the needs these girls would face (including access to childcare, pregnancy education, parenting classes, health and well baby visits). Then we made a list of potential community partners who were best equipped to meet those needs. A network of support was developed where guidance counselors, social workers, and nurses didn’t have to solve every problem, they just made referrals. Now, when a teen tells a guidance counselor she is pregnant we have a network of options. School nurses don’t have to teach teens to breastfeed. Schools don’t have to open childcare centers on site. We have partners who do that, and all without placing those extra costs at the feet of our schools. The School Board should be helping facilitate these sort of collaborative conversations daily within our schools.
Improving post-High School success rates for our students
According to a recent Technical College assessment, nearly 1 in 3 High School graduates have to take some form of remedial math or english coursework after graduation. Even during the height of the economic downturn, there were thousands of unfilled positions, and employers cited lack of skills workers. Students who are leaving school need to be ready for the next level- whether that be college or career. Our schools should partner with the Chamber of Commerce, or local industries, and technology innovators to build a career ready workforce. Schools should seek out internship, and hands on collaborative opportunities that ensure students are being provided with real life work experience, while also learning soft skills like teamwork, collaboration, and professionalism. As a Greenville County School Board member, I will work to strengthen these career/college/School District relationships to build a career pipeline and instill a stronger district-wide focus on building career readiness outcomes.
Strengthen our role in shaping public policy
One of every ten South Carolinians lives in Greenville County. We should have a voice in the state legislature equal to that. To ensure this, we need to take a proactive role of informing elected officials and policy makers about the work, and needs of our community. We need to be actively informing and influencing policy, not just responding to what is on the floor of the House or Senate.
For the past three years, I have served as one of Governor Haley’s appointees on the SC Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children. We have been working to review state policy and its impact on children and families. There are no local school boards represented on the committee, only the SC Department of Education. My involvement with the SC JCLCC and the Greenville School Board would help ensure that our perspective on policy issues is heard BEFORE a bill is crafted.
To learn more about me, visit the Questions and Answers page