to the MGSD Board of Education Election
General Information about the Board of Education Election
The Board of Education Candidates
Mr. Roger Hyatt
- Why do you believe that you are qualified to serve on the MGSD Board of Education? Hello everyone. My name Is Roger Hyatt, and I am a candidate for reelection to the Mooresville Graded School District Board of Education. I am now completing my third term on the MGSD Board of Education. I have over 30 years of service in the public schools of North Carolina (science teacher, assistant principal, principal of an alternative school, high school principal, elementary school principal, school business official, and assistant superintendent for support services), with 20 years of service here in Mooresville. I have been recognized by the Mooresville Jaycees as an outstanding young educator and by my professional peers as District Principal of the Year…one year recognized as the NC District 7 Regional Principal of the Year and one of three finalists for the NC Principal of the Year. I have served with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as System Coordinator, Regional Coordinator, Chairman of the NC Elementary Commission, Chairman of the NC State Combined Commission, and chair/member of numerous school visitation committees. A graduate of Appalachian State University, I currently serve on the Advisory Board for the Reich College of Education. An active member of the North Carolina School Boards Association, I currently serve on the Advisory Board for the NCSBA Action Center. As you can see, I have experience with education in North Carolina, both from within our district and from the larger state-wide perspective. Having been a resident of Mooresville since 1984, I have seen the changes in our community over time. I believe I understand how schools operate generally and the specific needs of the educational system here in our community.
- What is the greatest challenge facing our school district at this time, and how do you believe this issue should be addressed? I believe the greatest challenge facing our school system at this time is the impact resulting from a growing community. As our population grows, it is important that we have sufficient classroom space, competent teaching staff, appropriate support staff, and all necessary resources to support our schools. Working with the town, our board is communicating these issues so that they may be considered in the planning process as town officials approve new developments. Working with our county commissioners, our board supplies factual information so that the commissioners may make funding decisions based upon our system’s needs. Working with colleges and universities in our state who provide teacher education programs, our board has established relationships to both inform and explore opportunities for student teachers and prospective staff members. Our board has been proactive in acquiring land of sufficient size and appropriate location for additional schools. We, as a board, and you as a community, must support any future board referendum to provide appropriate facilities for our students.
- The MGSD district vision statement is “To empower every student with the opportunity to realize their maximum potential by embracing the inherent worth of the whole child.” What does this statement mean to you? How would you ensure that this vision becomes reality? The MGSD motto of “Every Child, Every Day” is not just a slogan but is reflective of the way we conduct “school” here in Mooresville. Every student is treated as an individual with specific abilities and challenges. Our task as educators is to understand each child and provide the necessary opportunities for growth and development. This is not an easy task. In each of our schools, we have a strategic plan which looks at student data each year and develops a plan of action to best meet these student needs. Administrators meet with teachers on a quarterly basis at each school to review student performance and make adjustments as necessary. Periodic reports are made to the Board of Education reflecting student performance. Members of our board of education and our administrative team have recently completed intensive training from the Racial Equity Institute to better understand the background and needs of all students within our district. Staff members across the district have completed diversity training over the past few years, and this training continues. Our board is working with the Iredell County Schools, Mitchell Community College, and the Iredell County Commissioners to adjust curriculum emphasis so that all Mooresville graduates have completed a curriculum tract that capitalizes on their needs and abilities and prepares them for their future…four-year university, two-year community college, trade or technical school, military, or entry into the workplace.
- As a school board member, it is important to build trusting relationships with all stakeholders, what steps would you take to build those trusting relationships?
It is the vote of the public that elects board members to serve on the MGSD Board of Education. As elected officials, it is imperative that we stay connected to those who have elected us to serve. It is also imperative that we stay connected to our superintendent and central office staff and to the administrators, teachers, and staff in our schools. Also important, is a connection to the support staff necessary to operate our schools efficiently and effectively. We meet the public and interact with our administrators each month in our regularly scheduled board meetings. To be truly effective, we must be “in touch” with our school staff between meetings and open to communication with our community at all times. Visibility in our schools during athletic events and school-sponsored activities is one opportunity for this interaction. In a small town, people know who we are and are not bashful about “talking school” at church, at the store, or on the street…our obligation is to listen to both praise and concern and convey any issues to the appropriate school contact. I am pleased and proud to have served this community as both a practicing professional and member of the Board of Education. With your continued support, I am ready, willing, and able to continue this work.
Ms. Scarlett Inman
- Why do you believe that you are qualified to serve on the MGSD Board of Education? Through my years as a parent volunteer, substitute teachers, PTO President, serving on the Parent Advisory Committee, Calendar Committee, School Improvement Team, Capstone Senior Project Judge and most recently joining the Athletic Booster Club, I've seen first hand just how much our district has changed during these times of rapid growth in our community. Through the leadership positions I've held, I've help facilitate some of these changes in our schools and hope I've eased some of the anxiety for the parents, students and teachers I've represented. Because of these experiences and my understanding of the challenges our schools face, I will bring a new, unique and fresh perspective to the Board of Education. I look forward to continuing my advocacy on a new level.
- What is the greatest challenge facing our school district at this time, and how do you believe this issue should be addressed?
Overcrowding has long been a problem, which will be exacerbated by the thousands of new homes to be built within MGSD's boundaries over the next few years. As a member of the Board of Education, I will work closely with the Town of Mooresville to make sure that when the town makes decisions that impact our schools, that the needs of the schools are not forgotten. I will work with the County Commissioners and take an active role on the Facilities Task Force to ensure that our district’s facilities needs are not only identified but are met as required by statute, and not compromised as the smaller of two districts in Iredell County. I will actively support the next school bond, because it’s critical to meeting our needs in the very near future, as well as the long term.
We are also seeing a mental health crisis nationwide. Many of our students struggle with developing social and emotional skills that equip them to deal with the challenges today’s children face, many of which manifest themselves differently than when most of us were students. Sadly, we are underequipped in our schools to serve all students as best we should because we simply do not have the funds to address to the level we need to, and we need to work aggressively to figure out how to provide that additional support. Today, more than ever, mental health professionals and counselors are needed in all our schools, so that children have the support they need to cope and to thrive.
Our district has been touted as a national leader and innovator through its use of technology in the classroom. Technology is wonderful, and we have so many amazing and highly qualified teachers who effectively use technology in the classroom every day. However, many parents have expressed concern to me that at times our curriculum seems too tailored towards technology. As we continue to evolve as a district, I'll work with administration to make sure we are always striking the right balance of using technology as a tool, without compromising the role of teachers in the classroom.
- The MGSD district vision statement is “To empower every student with the opportunity to realize their maximum potential by embracing the inherent worth of the whole child.” What does this statement mean to you? How would you ensure that this vision becomes reality?
This means that we are taking care of the WHOLE child; every child that walks through our doors is taken care of physically, mentally, emotionally, academically, and will never be thought of as simply a test score or number. Just as there’s more to being on a team than being the most athletically gifted member of the team, there’s more to being a strong student than simply what can be quantified by grades or a state test score. Our focus needs to be on the overall well-being of our students and on helping them grow and thrive as not only students but as a well-rounded people. Encouraging them to explore all the offerings available to them, whether it be the arts, languages, vocational courses, band, athletics, JROTC, clubs, or AP classes, and reinforcing the value of variety in providing a diverse, but comprehensive educational experience. Being a School Board member means paying attention and understanding the challenges that public education faces today. Education has become a political hot potato, schools are under ever-increasing funding pressures, and sadly the curriculums and needs that are less “measurable,” therefore considered by some as less valuable, always seem to be under threat. Legislators need to understand that education is not something to be profited off of or bargained with every time funding is needed for something else. Legislators need to make education a true priority, rather than a campaign slogan. It is critical to keep an open line of communication with our county, and especially our state leaders to make sure that our district’s vision is not compromised because of politics. Over the years, I’ve participated in numerous ‘Legislative Breakfasts’ where these issues are discussed with our Town, County and State leaders and I will continue to do so to make sure our voices are heard and our legislators know that we expect better for our schools. We have a number of wonderful programs already implemented throughout our school district to address the many educational paths a child may take, and a four-year college is only one of many. Providing the best counseling so that our students understand all their options, for example, two or four-year college, vocational study, military, or directly to work, is critical. Many students do want to attend college, and they (and their parents) need to fully understand the costs and potential scholarship opportunities available, whether it be for academic, athletics, character, etc. Our guidance and college counselors do a great job working with our students, but as our class sizes continue to grow, lack of funding does not allow us to add additional counselors. I’d like to work with the district and our local and state leaders to make sure the schools have all the resources they need to best serve children at the time they need to make many of these decisions, even if it means looking for alternate funding sources, grants, etc. to make up for lacking state funding.
- As a school board member, it is important to build trusting relationships with all stakeholders, what steps would you take to build those trusting relationships? As a mom of two daughters, I was compelled to take an active role in their education from the start. My husband and I chose to live in Mooresville because of the reputation of MGSD, and of course, we wanted the best schools for our daughters. As a working mom, it was comforting to know that our daughters were in such good hands, but I still wanted to be as active as my professional and personal life would allow. What started as “room mom” eventually led to PTO president, then various roles that focused more on the district as a whole. I have been able to forge strong, trusting relationships with parents, teachers, administrators and central office staff throughout the district. As a substitute teacher, I was able to do the same in the classroom. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the years is never to underestimate the value of listening, keeping an open mind and being adaptable.
Dr. Deborah Marsh
- Why do you believe that you are qualified to serve on the MGSD Board of Education? I have spent my entire life in public education. When I retired from MGSD in 2015 after 32 years in public education, I wanted to continue my work to provide our children with the best education possible. To do this, I ran for and was elected to the MGSD Board of Education. I have my doctorate in Education Leadership. During my tenure in public education, I worked with students from pre-k to 12th grade, serving as a school secretary in an alternative school, a middle school social studies student-teacher, a high school social studies teacher, an assistant principal and a principal. This experience has given me insight into all facets of public education. I was honored to be selected as Teacher of the Year in Hickory and Administrator of the Year (twice) in MGSD. While on the MGSD Board of Education for the past 4 years, I have worked hard to support all of our schools by attending many events, advocating for our district at the county and state levels, and informing our public about the issues we face. I am slated to be presented as a candidate for the North Carolina School Board Association’s Board of Directors in November, if re-elected locally. In addition to my work on the school board, I serve on the NCPK Advisory Board of the Iredell Partnership for Young Children. I also serve on the Board of Directors for Inspire Our Children, the non-profit that sponsors the Back 2 School Bash. As a member of the Mooresville-LN Exchange Club, I serve on the SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now) Committee and volunteer in our community. In my capacity as a member of the school board, I serve on the Iredell County Education Facilities Taskforce and the MGSD Health Advisory Committee. I take these responsibilities very seriously and am proud to say I am a very active member of each one. I remain passionate about the vital role public education plays in our community, state, country, and the world. I am honored by the trust the voters put in me four years ago and hope to continue to serve our schools and our children!
- What is the greatest challenge facing our school district at this time, and how do you believe this issue should be addressed? The most pressing challenge in our community right now is growth. MGSD desperately needs a new middle school and renovations to Park View and South just to accommodate the numbers of students who are on the radar, not to mention the students who will come to neighborhoods not yet approved by the town. I have worked for the past two years on the Iredell County Education Facilities Taskforce assessing the capital needs of the three educational units in Iredell County - MGSD, I-SS, and Mitchell Community College. I have toured facilities all over the county and worked with the committee to prepare a 10-year plan that has been presented to the Iredell County Commissioners. I have lobbied for our commissioners to place a school construction bond on the ballot in March and hope for their approval soon. I will then lobby hard to galvanize support for the new school construction bond to provide our county with the funds necessary to give our students the learning environments they need and deserve. In addition, MGSD needs to have a seat at the table when developers seek approval from the town for new construction. Currently, the planning board must discern the impact of proposed development on many public services, but not our schools. We must be able to engage in regular discussions with the town, county, and state to make sure that all of our elected officials understand the impact of their decisions on our schools and children.
- The MGSD district vision statement is “To empower every student with the opportunity to realize their maximum potential by embracing the inherent worth of the whole child.” What does this statement mean to you? How would you ensure that this vision becomes reality? As a parent, teacher, administrator, and school board member, I know that all parents want their children to be the best they can be. The challenge, however, is greater for some students and families in our community. That is why it is critically important for everyone connected to our school district to understand the challenges our families face, so we can best reduce their impact. During my work as an administrator, I led our staff in training to understand the impact of gender, race, and poverty on learning. I always participated in the training our staff engaged in and as a board member, I attend many district trainings to understand what we are identifying as the challenges and how we are addressing them. I have encouraged our district to seek the information we need, from a variety of sources, to truly determine the challenges we face and then to call the challenges by name. As a board member, I also ask for the data that tells us if our initiatives are producing positive results. In short, we must identify the challenges, call them by name, find interventions to address them, and monitor our success. We have been doing this for years in regards to academic progress, but not in regards to the other factors that impact student success like social/emotional health, drug abuse, bullying, racism, poverty, and much more. We have to SEE the whole child, in order to educate the whole child!
- As a school board member, it is important to build trusting relationships with all stakeholders, what steps would you take to build those trusting relationships? I have had the privilege of building strong and trusting relationships with many people in our community during the past 25 years that I have lived and worked in Mooresville. Although I am not originally from Mooresville, I appreciate the long and distinguished history of our school district and community. As a teacher and administrator in MGSD, I always tried to be honest and transparent with my students, staff, parents, co-workers, and the community. In part, this comes from my belief that you build consensus when people understand the “how” and the “why,” in addition to the “what.” The people with whom I have worked know that I don’t mince words and I call it like I see it. This quality, more than any other, is what people tell me they appreciate most about my leadership. I believe you can’t address an issue if you are not willing to call it by name. In addition, I always try to do my homework. Many of the issues we face today are multi-layered and complicated. This is why it is extremely important to reach out to our town government, county commissioners, and representatives in the General Assembly. Little in life is black and white. It is vitally important, as a public servant, to try to see all sides of an issue. Finally, I try to be as visible as I can be. I attend many school and district functions to see what is going on in our district and so people will have access to me. I genuinely enjoy seeing all of the many ways in which our students excel.
Ms. Kerry Pennell
- Why do you believe that you are qualified to serve on the MGSD Board of Education? While serving on the MGSD Board of Education, I have had opportunities, experiences and trainings which have allowed me to strengthen not only relationships, but my knowledge of what it takes and truly means to be a successful Board Member. I have made sound decisions on matters of finance, policy and procedure which have allowed this District to remain one of the Top 10 in the State. With a 3rd and 8th grader, I never have to look far to see the impact of the Board’s decisions on peers and teachers. My unwavering commitment to our children, teachers and administrators remains strong and makes me best qualified to be re-elected to the MGSD Board of Education.
- What is the greatest challenge facing our school district at this time, and how do you believe this issue should be addressed? The greatest challenge is to provide an excellent education to all students while dealing with a growing population. We need to educate the community on the importance of placing and subsequently passing a Bond on the ballot in March. The Bond will give us the opportunity to build a desperately needed additional middle school. In the face of the explosive growth, it remains imperative for the School Board, along with the Central Office staff, to continue to communicate our concerns and needs to the Local, County and State elected officials.
- The MGSD district vision statement is “To empower every student with the opportunity to realize their maximum potential by embracing the inherent worth of the whole child.” What does this statement mean to you? How would you ensure that this vision becomes reality? I believe it is paramount to support and encourage our teachers, administrators and all staff in their efforts to address the whole child. Embracing the inherent whole worth of the child means the District must strive to create a safe and supportive environment. A student needs a sense of belonging to be engaged and challenged to collaborate inside the classroom and outside in the community. As a board member, I currently support programs, class offerings and opportunities to strengthen the emotional, social, physical, and creative learning environment. While doing so, the future for Our Children and Our Community will remain bright.
- As a school board member, it is important to build trusting relationships with all stakeholders, what steps would you take to build those trusting relationships? I believe the first and most important step in building trusting relationships is to simply be present. It was my promise to visit and be present in each and every school in this District, and I have kept my promise. I have participated in Read Across America Week, Career Day, Book Fairs, Gateway Projects, CTE class demonstrations, Band Concerts, Theater Performances and countless other events at our schools. I am present and willing to continue to be present in our schools and community. I would consider it an honor to earn your vote for re-election to the MGSD School Board.
Links and information on various topics regarding the November 5 elections taking place throughout Iredell County.