In less than 10 weeks, Alamance County residents will be voting for several public offices, including three new members of the Board of Education. Three faculty and staff members at Elon University are beginning the home stretch of their campaigns for slots on the school board. There are nine total candidates for three spots. In a speech to faculty and staff on Aug. 18, Elon President Leo Lambert stressed the importance of public education.
“In my mind, there are no more important elections than those taking place here this fall in Alamance County for County Commissioner and the Alamance County Board of Education, because I believe the quality of public education for children in grades K-12 hangs in the balance,” Lambert said.
Elon Executive Vice President Gerry Francis announced his write-in candidacy Aug. 4, only three months before elections.
Having been involved on the Alamance-Burlington School System (ABSS) Visioning Committee and the school board’s strategic planning process this past year, Francis said he realized now was the time for him to step up and try to change things for the better.
“There was a lot of turmoil on the school board that was brought to my attention when I was involved with visioning and planning,” he said. “I have the experience to bring to the table that can help stabilize things.”
Francis has served as Elon’s executive vice president since 2009. Before that, he spent 15 years as Elon’s provost and vice president for academic affairs and 20 years teaching in the mathematics department, totaling more than 40 years at Elon.
Francis also served as an alderman in the Town of Elon for 10 years.
As a write-in candidate, Francis knows that he faces an additional challenge, but feels he is prepared for it.
“My name isn’t on the ballot, but I’m still there,” he said. “Write-in is like my pseudonym — that’s what they have to pick to vote for me.”
For Francis, this election is less about a personal victory and more about the community making a good choice to bring about positive change.
“I believe it’s a really important time for our community to make good decisions and to elect people,” he said. “I truly don’t care who they elect as long as they are substantially involved in moving our education system forward to another level.”
Elon’s Assistant Director of Information Systems and Technologies Tony Rose is the only incumbent for the election. Rose is the current chair of the ABSS Board of Education and also a member of the Education Council of the Alamance County Chamber of Commerce.
Rose was in charge of creating the board’s strategic plan over the past four years and said he is eager to hold office again and see through the implementation of the plan.
“I have an unwavering commitment to excellence in education and to the raising of academic standards,” Rose said. “Every high school graduate needs to be prepared for life. We must continue to find ways for our school system to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our students and adequately preparing them for success.”
Rose has a strong connection with the ABSS. Both of his parents taught in the school system, and he and his wife attended them. Now his daughters attend schools in the county.
“This background and perspective is unique among the members of the board at this time, so it’s something special that I bring to the table,” he said. “It’s a level of experience which I feel the school board needs.”
Rose wants to focus on technology in education and said this is something else he can add to the school board.
“In the future, it will be even more important for ABSS board members to understand new informational and learning technologies and how these developments can support learners in the classroom,” he said.
Elon’s Assistant Bursar Jeremy Teetor is a lifelong resident of Alamance County and a former teacher. Teetor plans to use his experience as an educator to improve the school system.
“Many school board policies have direct impact on students,” Teetor said. “Because I have taught the generation in our public schools today, I understand their needs and how various policies may or may not benefit them.”
Teetor was first inspired to make a difference when he graduated Cummings High School in 2006, and the school was threatened with closure because of low performance.
Teetor’s biggest concern is that the quality of education is not consistent throughout the entire school system. He wants to support administrators in the push to improve underperforming schools.
“As a school board member, I will do what I can to help the ABSS be a place where great administrators and teachers want to work,” he said. “I understand the stakes are higher than ever, and I am eager to bring a new and important perspective to the board of education.