ELECTION 2014: School board candidate Morris runs for ‘positive, productive dialogue’


ELECTION 2014: School board candidate Morris runs for ‘positive, productive dialogue’

District 2 school board candidate Melody Morris has one child enrolled in Williamson County Schools, three graduated from the school system and one she homeschooled. Morris said her exposure to different types of education systems give her an edge on her two opponents in the upcoming Aug. 7 election.

District 2 school board candidate Melody Morris has one child enrolled in Williamson County Schools, three graduated from the school system and one she homeschooled. Morris said her exposure to different types of education systems give her an edge on her two opponents in the upcoming Aug. 7 election.

Residence: Thompson’s Station

Family: Husband Ken and five children

Education:  Bachelor’s in political science at Ouachita Baptist University, graduate work in public administration, city management, secondary education at East Tennessee State University and University of Illinois, Chicago

Occupation: Homemaker, tutor, previously a broadcast journalist

SHHP: Why are you running? 

Melody Morris: I have been interested in public service since I served on the Citizen’s Advisory Committee for Davidson County Schools when I was 17. My father and I served together on that committee, and I learned a great deal about community service from him.

I have been actively involved in Williamson County Schools through the PTSO for the past several years, most recently as the president of the PTSO at Independence High School. I am passionate about education and about Williamson County Schools. My life experience and skills are a good match for this particular service role. When I learned the District 2 seat was open, I prayed about running and discussed it with my husband. After much encouragement from friends, I decided to enter the race.

What are the most important issues in education relevant to Williamson County Schools? 

The continued rapid growth in our county presents an ongoing financial challenge for our school system. We must balance the need to build new structures with maintaining existing buildings. At the same time, we must attract, hire and retain excellent teachers while providing the best educational resources possible for all students. Growth also presents zoning challenges, which can be a source of stress for families.

We need to protect our system from those with a national political agenda that is not in the best interest of Williamson County students. At the same time, parents need to be aware of the many existing avenues through which they can engage the system and have their voices heard and their concerns addressed.

We must continue to champion local control of our district by fostering positive relationships with our legislators and with the State Board of Education on behalf of the parents and students of Williamson County.

How can you address those issues? 

I will actively support the Williamson County Schools Ambassadors program as well as other initiatives designed to encourage the involvement of local business and industries in our schools. I think one important key to meeting our financial challenges is the involvement of the local private sector in our school system.

I will support the effort to find a zoning plan that will take us through at least three years without alteration.

I will work collaboratively to find a solution to the current frustration with the public comment policy. I think there is a better way to handle this important aspect of board meetings.

I will do my homework and be well-informed about the issues that affect our system. I will come to the table ready to participate in productive dialogue that is solution-focused with the best interests of our students as the primary consideration in any discussion.

What can you offer as a school board member that your opponent cannot?  

I have a broad range of life experience. I worked as a broadcast journalist and understand that 15-second sound bites and quick slogans cannot explain complex issues. We need serious people committed to positive, productive dialogue to meet challenges we face. I am that kind of person.

Our family home schooled for several years; our oldest daughter was home schooled all the way through high school, and our other children entered public school in 2005 after we returned from the mission field. I come to the board understanding the perspective of residents who want choices for their children’s education.

I have worked as a substitute teacher in Williamson County Schools, which has helped me experience the diversity in our district. I have also worked as a tutor and understand various educational challenges students face. My five children have very different learning styles, and I understand the challenges that presents in a classroom.

My mother was a teacher; my sister is a teacher. I have many friends who are teachers, and I am sensitive to their concerns.

Working with the PTSO has given me insight into the needs of our schools and the creative approaches necessary to resource those needs.

Why should people vote for you? 

I come to this process with no personal agenda.

I understand that the power of any member of the school board is limited. The board acts as a body to make decisions, which are reached after dialogue between the members at open meetings.

I plan to be a productive part of the decision-making process by preparing well for meetings, spending time in our schools and being available to hear the ideas ​and concerns​ of parent constituents. I see this as a public service role, and I am ready and willing to serve our community in this way.

Website: facebook.com/voteMelodyMorris

 

Jessica Pace covers Williamson County, Williamson County Schools and the Town of Nolensville for BrentWord Communications. Contact her at jess@brentwoodhomepage.com or follow her on Twitter @Jess_Marie_Pace.

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