Menu
Board of Education Candidates Public Forum

West Johnston Student Media presents

2016 Board of Education Candidates Public Forum

February 18, 2016, 6 – 8 p.m.


Click here for a recording of the event.

Click here for script and questions that were asked.


Opening:  Presenting of the Colors and Pledge of Allegiance by JROTC

Moderator:  Erik Beene; Timer:  Zachary Taylor; Hospitality:  Robin Pollard; Public Relations: Ally Henry; Refreshments: Christy Barbour’s Foods class students

Simulcast: Yvette Davis;  Camera: Jamie Snover

Rules: Each candidate is afforded 90 seconds to answer the same question. The order will rotate as to who answers first. The last round of questions will address candidates individually or in groups. Each candidate will have 60 seconds for a final closing remark.

Candidate Platforms:

Dale Bender (Clayton): I have been married to Paul Bender for 41 years and have two grown sons and three grandsons who currently attend Johnston County schools. My youngest son Beau, who has special needs and is now 35 years old, attended Johnston County Schools for seven years. Parents are not getting the support and resources needed for their child with special needs. Our school superintendent, teachers, principals, parents and specialists need to come together for the students and be educated in IEP’s, Behavioral Intervention Plans and other resources needed for student success. Transportation is another matter. Students should not be riding on a school bus for 1 to 2 hours a day to get to and from school. As President and CEO of Hopes N Dreams and a retired bus driver I see and hear the frustration of parents and teachers. Unless we start supporting our teachers in the classroom with resources and pay, we will be losing them to surrounding school systems. Parents and students need to know that their school board is listening to their concerns. When elected I will be that person. All students have the ability to succeed if given the right resources, equipment and support. My motto is “A Voice for Students of All Abilities”. facebook.com/Dale.Bender4BOE/

Teresa Grant (Garner): I believe that leaders don't happen by chance. They have to be taught to lead and then be given the opportunities. I believe that schools should continue to offer as many leadership opportunities as possible, such as classroom assignments and projects, cooperative learning groups, character education, sports, clubs and student government. As a member of the board, I will encourage programs that promote reading and high academic achievement, keeping in mind that education is not "one size fits all." Moving from Common Core to a more sensible approach to teaching is essential in this process. Since reading comprehension is necessary for students to succeed in all areas of learning, we must ensure that these skills are developed at an early age. Continuing to look for innovative ways to help students develop a passion for learning is essential, such as our Career and Technical Education Programs, and our IHE (institutions of Higher Education) partnerships. Included in these are our alliances with Johnston Community College at SSS where students will be able to earn college credit in a technical field, and with Mount Olive College where students at South Johnston will be able to earn college credit in the agricultural field. aubie059.wix.com/tgrant4schoolboard

Summer Hamrick (Smithfield): I am Summer Hamrick and I am currently running for the Johnston County Board of Education. “Working for the Classroom” is not only my campaign platform but a literal statement of what needs to happen in the Johnston county schools to be as productive and beneficial as we can be for each and every student and teacher each and every day. As a local business owner, I have the support staff in place to be able to actually go and spend time each month as a volunteer with the educators and administrators. I have found that direct input with all educators is lacking and we cannot honestly state that we are working for the benefit of the schools and children therein, if we have not recently communicated with the people on the ground, the teacher. The next step is to find out where our money is going. I have experience working with budgets and looking specifically for fraud, waste and abuse of valuable resources. I believe that every dollar is valuable and the Board should be accountable and transparent as a standard practice. Together we can make a better classroom for the children and retain the great teachers of Johnston County. facebook.com/SummerHamrickforBoardofEducation/

Jeffrey Jennings (Clayton): One single issue doesn’t define the needs and/or future of our schools. We would all agree that teacher compensation/retention, student safety, population growth, curriculum challenges and more – are all key issues that must be addressed. The BOE and its stakeholders must… Develop and implement plans to strengthen support and improve the compensation for teachers and staff. Partner with parents/guardians to show how they are an integral part of their student’s success, for we are all accountable to our students. Provide essential training to new teachers. Be accountable to our students. Provide essential training to new teachers. Develop comprehensive budgets with our county officials that anticipate growth, rather than simply react to it. Strengthen relationships with state legislators to ensure they understand our needs and the ramifications of their decisions. Seek out and exchange ideas with successful schools across the state and nation. Identify the “Simple Things” that can positively impact our students, teachers and schools. As an unaffiliated BOE member, I will be ready to engage all of our stakeholders and will remain open and objective to all ideas and concerns regardless of the political party of those whom I serve and work alongside.

Ronald Johnson (Clayton): I want to provide students with an environment where they can succeed and prepare to attend college or enter the workforce. I am a former School Resource Officer who served Johnston County Schools from 2007 until 2013. I implemented programs to provide at-risk juveniles with after school activities, and made academics and good behavior a requirement for participation. I promoted community involvement, incorporated teachers and parents, and made a difference in Johnston County Schools. I would like to see the number of certifications increase by promoting training in BioManufacturing and Public Safety. I want to better prepare our students for college and the workforce by implementing certification programs in the school curriculum. We have great teachers in Johnston County and we need to ensure we are providing them with the proper tools and working conditions that keep them teaching at an optimal level. We must keep the public school system strong by increasing teacher’s pay or we will continue to lose teachers to neighboring counties and charter schools. I plan on attacking other issues important to families, teachers and taxpayers including the dropout rate, school safety and teen driving. facebook.com/Ronald-Johnson-for-Johnston-County-Board-of-Education

Crystal Roberts (Smithfield): I believe that the work of a School Board is to keep student achievement as a priority for all students on all levels. In concert with the school system, Board members are obligated to provide a productive academic environment, and should be unwavering in their efforts to do so. I further believe that our students deserve caring, competent teachers, while our students, teachers and support staff need advocates who will speak on their behalf. Strengthening our efforts to hire, retain, and train master teachers who “lead with the heart” will also serve our students well as they prepare for lives beyond high school. Our teachers and staff deserve a working environment that fully supports the roles they play in our students’ lives. In my work as a community advocate, my ultimate goal is to improve conditions that may be less than optimal by interacting and listening to those it involves and affects. I would do this by connecting with those who can help bring about resolution. I am a coalition-builder who will work with the system and community to ensure continuous efforts toward student achievement. crystalforschoolboard.com

Todd Sutton (Kenly): As a North Carolina native, husband, father of two and a nineteen year resident of Johnston County, my family and I have a long vested interest in the Johnston County School System. Our family has students and teachers in all areas of Johnston County Public Schools. Also, as a parent of a high functioning autism student, I have experienced the stance on bullying and have been very pleased with the support from staff and administration. Growth becomes a challenge to maintain and is no stranger to Johnston County. I want to continue to work with the county commissioners in this area along with the planning board and developers to make sure land is set aside for schools within subdivisions. One reason our county is experiencing growth is due to young families making career decisions based on educational environment for their children. Currently, there are 150 mobile units throughout the county. I want to work with all parties to have brick and mortar over every child! The second item that needs to be addressed is competitive teacher supplements. Our teachers are leaving the county and going to neighboring counties for higher supplements. Just last year, 52% leaving went to Wake County. In order for us to keep our talented teachers we must review our current budget and enlist the help of the County Commissioners to assist us with retaining our current teachers with more competitive supplements. In closing, I ask for your support but more importantly I need your prayers. Thank you very much for your time. toddpsutton.com

Peggy Smith (Angier): My vision is to make every child count! As a veteran educator, my mission as a BOE member is to assure opportunities for students and staff to accomplish their goals,  use multiple data sources to make decisions, work cooperatively with other governing bodies to build a school system that is second to none and ask questions and listen to constituents and bring a spirit of collaboration. I believe education is the right of all children. A great education is the obligation of adults. All decisions must ask, “What is best for our students?” We must ensure that we continue to reward our teachers and staff, despite funding cuts, a safe learning environment, excellent leaders, facilities worthy of children, engagement of parents and community, and accomplishing the vision of empowering all students to become successful in a global society. Education was my ticket from poverty to success. All children deserve that ticket. facebook.com/Peggy-Smith-for-Board-of-Education

Chip Swartz (Clayton): Johnston County is a vibrant and diverse county that blends a small-town lifestyle and rich, agricultural roots, with a burgeoning population and growing high-tech sector, most notably in pharmaceuticals. Our growth is a testament to the warmth, generosity and strong work-ethic of its people, but comes with very real challenges, none more so than to public education. If fortunate enough to be elected to a seat on your Board of Education, I would apply a three-tier test to all major issues coming before the board: (1) Does it meet our obligations to the growing student population; (2) Is it good for our school teachers, school administrators and classified staff; and (3) Is it a responsible and justifiable use of taxpayer money. It will require a determined effort, but together we can continue to enjoy the benefits of growth while improving our public schools and making good on our solemn duty to educate. chipswartz.com

Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2017 West Corporation. All rights reserved.