Houston school board candidates make their case

Five candidates urge school board to choose them to fill empty spot

jmink@macon.comMarch 11, 2013 

The Houston County Board of Education made a step Monday toward filling its empty seat when board members questioned the five candidates vying to be the newest board member.

The candidates made public comments during the school board work session and were interviewed by board members in an executive session.

Candidates talked about their connections to the educational system and to the community when making their case to represent Post 1, which includes Thomson Middle and Northside High schools. The position recently was vacated when former Chairman Tom Walmer resigned. Board members will vote Tuesday on Walmer’s replacement.

“The shoes that I’m filling, I hate that he had to leave,” said Andrea Jordan, a board candidate. “But I’m glad for the opportunity it presented to me and the other candidates.”

Jordan, a part-time instructor at Georgia Military College and former Northside Middle School principal, mentioned her experience with the school district, which spans decades. Jordan helped open Northside Junior High School in 1970, she said.

Jordan wants to represent the taxpayers and continue the board’s efforts to be open with the public, she said. But she mainly wants to be a board member because “I love kids,” she said. “I would like to be a part of contributing to their success. I realize that their being successful certainly would ensure a greater future for all of us.”

Richard Unruh also highlighted his connections to the local educational community. A retired media specialist for Houston schools and current worship pastor at Trinity Church of the Nazarene in Macon, Unruh said he is a big supporter for new technology in schools.

“I would like to continue to contribute to the educational community,” he said.

As a parent of a Thomson Middle School student, Kynette Cheatham urged the board to select her as the next board member because of her current involvement with the school system. Cheatham is a software analyst for CSI Consulting Services in Warner Robins and former administrative assistant for the Houston County Board of Education, but she also is chairwoman of Thomson Middle’s school council.

“I really feel like I have valid input being that I’m still engaged in the school and know what’s going on day to day,” she said.

Edward Dyson talked about his experience in the school system, which goes back to 1964. As former Northside High School principal and former executive director of secondary operations for the district, Dyson said he can bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the board. He also mentioned his support of school safety.

“I love Houston County,” he said. “I believe in what you do, and I believe I can be an asset to you.”

Jon Nichols also talked about his love of the community. A Houston County native, Nichols first realized his desire to serve the community in the fifth grade, he said. Decades later, he is now a Centerville city councilman and operations manager for Legacy Hospitality Management and account manager for VNS Corporation, both in Houston County.

“When Tom stepped down from his position, I looked at it as an opportunity to serve the county that I love so much,” he said. “This is my home. Forty-eight years ago I was born here ... and you’ll bury me by the Baptist church in Centerville.”

New elementary school name to be chosen

Board members also were asked to soon choose a name for the new elementary school, which is being constructed on Langston Road in Perry. Board Member Fred Wilson suggested Langston Road Elementary School, which board members will vote on Tuesday.

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.

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