Archived Story

BOE candidates interview for seat

Published 11:40am Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The city council has completed its interviews of the six contenders for a seat on the Alexander City Board of Education.

Current board member Fred Norris’ five-year term will end in June. Norris has served on the board for the last 10 years.

Applicants for the position included Norris, Vantrice Heard, Dorothea Walker, Jelani Tuck, Cora Varner and Diane Lemmond.

Mayor Charles Shaw asked each candidate the same eight questions regarding the source of the board of education’s authority, the primary duties of a board of education member, the candidate’s financial and budgeting background, implementation of curriculum and why the candidate would like to be a board member.

Norris and Heard interviewed Friday afternoon, and Tuck, Lemmond, Walker and Varner interviewed Monday evening.

All candidates said they would support putting more funds into career technical education and having the latest technology in schools.

“Some kids are technical, and some kids are academic,” Heard said. “You can be successful at both.”

Tuck said career tech is important for those children who wouldn’t move on to post-secondary education.

“Everybody’s not going to go to college, and that’s just a given thing,” Tuck said. “But our kids need to have an avenue (to pursue technical education).”

Lemmond said she wanted to see the school system stay on the forefront of technology.

“We have great technology now … but I think there’s always advancements we can make. Things are changing every day,” Lemmond said. “We have to always know what’s going on … and if we’re going to compete within our school system, we have to have the best.”

Walker said she thinks “when it comes to technology, our generation is somewhat lost” about what technology is best to implement in learning. Walker also stressed the importance of utilizing the technology properly.

“I don’t know where technology is going. All I know is we have to get on board and go with it,” Walker said. “I think we can take a lot of trivia out of curriculum. We all know the names of Columbus’ ships but for what purpose? If you needed to know that right quick, you can go Google it now, and it’s right there for you. I think we have to refocus on what’s important for them to know.”

Heard said she would try to be “an objective ear … and representative” for the community by attending community events and school functions and seeking feedback from parents, students and other citizens.

“I like to know what everybody else thinks about what’s going on,” Heard said.

Lemmond echoed that sentiment, saying that she wanted to “be a sounding board and someone to come and talk to” in her role as a board member, providing a support system for the community, faculty, students and the superintendent.

Both Walker and Varner have had lifelong careers in education.

Varner said she supported creating a task force to help come up with solutions to the issues that face the Alexander City Schools.

“Everything that has strong aggression toward education needs a task force,” Varner said.

Norris said he wanted to continue his tenure as a board member because he is so passionate about helping the children of Alexander City.

“It’s my passion,” he said. “It’s in my blood.”

Heard said she wanted to serve on the board because she felt it was time for her “to have a voice in the community. It’s time to step up.”

“We learned a lot about these individuals, and I’m very impressed at the quality of candidates we had apply for the position,” said Council President Bob Howard.

Howard said the council will nominate and vote on the next board of education member at the upcoming city council meeting, which is set for April 15, at 5 p.m. in the municipal courtroom.