Election 2014: Q&A With Fairfield County School Board Candidates

Andrea Harrison

Carl Jackson Jr.

Henry Miller

Marvin Robertson

Beth Reid

WINNSBORO – With the Nov. 4 general elections only weeks away, The Voice is offering a series of brief question and answer sessions with candidates for County Council, School Board and Sixth Circuit Solicitor. This week, we hear from candidates for Fairfield County School Board districts 1, 3, 5 and 7. Only District 1 is offering a competitive race, as incumbent Andrea Harrison defends her seat against Marvin Robertson. All other races are unopposed.

We Asked:

1. Please provide a brief history of your education, training and employment.

2. Briefly describe any leadership roles you have taken in education, initiatives implemented, challenges faced, goals accomplished.

3. What do you see as the greatest challenge facing the Fairfield County School District and describe how your would meet that challenge?

4. What, in your mind, is the ideal role of a School Board member? How do you fit that image?

5. How would you classify the current direction of the School District? Is it moving in the right direction? The wrong direction? And if it is, in your opinion, moving in the wrong direction, how would you correct that course?

They Said:

District 1

Andrea Harrison (incumbent)

1. I am a proud product of the Fairfield County School District and I am currently enrolled as a student at Midlands Technical College. I was previously employed with Verizon Wireless.

2. The main leadership role that I have taken is simply having high standards in providing excellent and outstanding educational opportunities for the children of this district. Unfortunately, as Board members we are unable to take leadership roles in implementing initiatives, but I would hope that I have provided some constructive ideas to administration which they may have utilized in some way in the progression of the district. I constantly attempt to encourage us to work as a group with the same vision by conducting business in an ethical and moral manner in an effort to regain the confidence of this community, which is one of my major goals. In my opinion, there are no challenges, only opportunities to create a nationally recognized school district which is a major goal that I know we can accomplish.

3. The greatest challenge that I currently see is simply ensuring that we are pursuing innovative and creative ways of delivering education to our students. We must become and remain cutting edge to maintain student engagement in the classroom and beyond. As a board member, my part in meeting that challenge is responsibly supporting those innovative initiatives proposed by administration to attain our goals and mission.

4. There is no ideal role. Our role is very much defined. As with any other type “board” we are an oversight committee. Our job is to ensure the vision set for the advancement of the district is carried out according to policy and law, that taxpayer dollars are being utilizes properly, ethically and morally according to policy and the law, and establishing solid polices that will be a foundation of advancement for boards, administration and the district in the future. I am a responsible board member because I fully comprehend and abide by the roles and responsibilities of a board member.

5. As with any school district anywhere we have our issues. My belief is, when you have an issue you correct it, which I absolutely hope we are taking and creating every opportunity to do. When corrective action is taken with an attitude of a positive outcome, we have no choice but to move in the right direction and I do believe we are on our way.

Marvin Robertson

1. I’m a CNC operator at Spirax Sarco. I received my CNC degree from Midland Technical College. I’ve been employed with Spirax Sarco for 16 years. I also attended South Carolina State University for 2 1/2 years.

2. I have taken a personal education with my own children. I’ve been coaching recreational sports for the last 18 years.

3. My greatest challenge is improving school facilities, so they can be updated like other schools in South Carolina. I will work with the superintendent on planning for upcoming funds.

4. To be a voice for my community and a strategic board member on helping the superintendent of being part of the policy setting group.

5. The school board is moving slowly in the right direction, but if elected I will work hard to help the school board members and superintendent with goals ad mild improvements.

District 3

Henry Miller (incumbent)

1. 1974 graduate of Winnsboro High School; Attended Midland Technical College, Rock Hurst University, and Zingler Miller Institute – Specialized Supervisory Training; 8 years of service as a school board member; South Carolina School Board Association Level 6 Certification which is the highest level that one can achieve; Served 6 years on Fairfield County Behavior Board; Served 2 year on the Fairfield County Hospital Board; Supervisor for Michelin Tire Company for 23 years – Retired.

2. As a team member of the current school board of trustees, I have worked with the superintendent to enhance the use of technology for students in grades Pre-k – 12. One of our newest initiatives focuses on students bringing their own devices. We are currently working together to provide access to students to utilize chrome books, IPads and laptops at home and school; Working with the superintendent to increase the number of students participating in the STEM initiative and career center programs to include Engineering, Bio-Medical Science and other 21st century courses; Working together building a new career center

3. The greatest challenge I see facing Fairfield County School is working together to provide an early intervention program that will focus on children learning to read at the Pre-k4 level. I will meet the challenge by assisting to secure adequate Federal and State funding to secure early intervention programs for our students.

4. My ideal role of a school board member is to govern as a body and not as an individual. I am a team player that works well with others which includes the superintendent and the board.

5. Fairfield County School District is currently moving in the right direction. It is my desire that we continue to work together to enhance a culture of “Excellence Through Team Work.”

District 5

Carl E. Jackson Jr.

1. I grew up in Fairfield County. I served 3yrs. 8 mo. 11days in the U.S. Air Force. Undergraduate diploma received from Fairfield High School. Bachelor of Arts-Benedict College. Master’s Degree and 30+hrs.-USC at Columbia, S.C.

2. I have served as an educator in Fairfield County for 35 yrs. I served as teacher, Assistant Principal, Principal, District Office Coordinator of Attendance, Adult Education teacher and Director; and Summer School Coordinator.

3. The greatest challenge facing the school district is to prepare our students for the current and future workforce. The academic technology is in place. We have to instill in the students the social skills to succeed by being dependable, reliable, and trainable.

4. I believe that Board Members should support the administration in the task of providing adequate teachers, facilities, and curriculum for the success of our students.

5. Currently, I believe that we are moving in the right direction with the curriculum, teachers, and facilities. We have to maintain proper support in every way that we can.

District 7

Elizabeth Reid (incumbent)

1. I hold graduate and undergraduate degrees in education from Winthrop University and the College of Charleston, respectively. I’ve spent more than 30 years in education and currently am employed as the Director of Elementary and Middle Schools at South Carolina Virtual Charter School.

2. My current position at SC Virtual Charter School has been a challenge. Being in an innovative situation, ensuring quality instruction to around 2000 k-8 students, and bringing a different approach to public education in SC has been exciting and fulfilling. Although I have accepted and embraced other leadership roles, the FCSD board of trustees has been the most challenging. My belief is that we have worked to regain the public trust as well as continuing to bring quality educational opportunities to all children in Fairfield County.

3. The greatest challenge is to continue the path that we’ve started. The leadership in place is accomplishing monumental goals and the current and future boards must continue to allow the leadership to lead, never reverting to the previous practice of micromanagement.

4. School board members must remember and practice their roles as policy makers with only one employee. Having worked for and served on various boards has given me the understanding of the importance of the role of the board member and I will continue to model that role.

5. I am thrilled with the direction of Fairfield County School District. I am hopeful that we continue to stay the course by providing excellent leadership for the school district.

Contact us: (803) 767-5711 | P.O. Box 675, Blythewood, SC 29016 | [email protected]