BNJ: What experiences or skills have prepared you to serve on the board? What schools or community activities/organizations have you been involved in?
Evans: A lifelong Barrow County resident, my husband and I have 3 children, all of whom attended Barrow County schools. My career has been in banking and financial management for the past 15 years, working at local financial institutions here in Winder. I recently completed another college degree in accounting and am now actively working in the accounting field. My husband and I also own local businesses here in the county in addition to his service to our community as a police officer. You’ve probably seen me in County Barrow in many capacities. While working for Banque Populaire, I participated in annual events for Relay for Life and March of Dimes. My family attends Bethlehem Church and we enjoy going out into the community with our church during the holidays. I served with Spirit of Sharing on Christmas Day and volunteered at holiday parties with the Boys & Girls Club. The latter part of my banking career at South State Bank, I served a 4-year term as Vice Chairman of the Board of Piedmont CASA, a voice for abused and neglected children in the judicial circuit of the Piedmont. You see me quite often now at Apalachee High School serving our VolleyCat family in the volleyball booster club. I love these children and their families. Acquiring leadership skills throughout my career will ensure you have positive leadership within our school board by being a voice of reason and a voice to stand up for what is right. I have experience in financial reports and budgets, so I will be attentive to income and expenses. I will be a partner of BCSS and an advocate for your child’s education. My Christian beliefs and my experience thus far as a police wife, mother, businesswoman and volunteer with non-profit organizations have prepared me to serve as a BOE representative with a mindset common sense to uphold the good morals and values of our county.
BNJ: What makes you unique as a candidate for the Board of Education? How would you stand out if elected?
Evans: I am a continuous learner. I sometimes feel like board members can get complacent and just go with the flow. I will think outside the box to see what we can do better and how we can improve. Listen to all opinions and ideas. I will research the facts and all the options before making any decisions. I would like to look for other ways to partner more with the community to support our students and staff.
BNJ: What do you see as a major issue facing the Barrow County school system and/or public education as a whole? How do you plan to fix it?
Evans: Growth. Growth continues. Our BOE has had to be somewhat reactive to the growth we’ve seen in the county. We should now be proactively looking through a growth lens to not only keep the focus on our current students, but also prepare our future students. As a board, we have to ask ourselves what BCSS will look like in 5 or 10 years and are we ready. We need to staff our schools and downsize classrooms, build/expand, upgrade technology and much more with growth. We also need to work with county and city leaders to educate them about the burdens on the school system and the public education needs of our children.
BNJ: What do you think is the role of schools in teaching children about topics such as bullying, sex education, cybersecurity and mental health?
Evans: The school system is an important part of our village and, as the old adage goes about raising children, “It takes a whole village”. As far back as I can remember, the topics of bullying, sex education and mental health have been circulating in our schools, now bringing cyber security, all still have a message to deliver in our public education system.
* Bullying – there is a need for this topic to be brought to the attention of our students and staff at all school levels. Our children don’t always get the positive message at home, so let’s keep the awareness in schools that being nice to each other is the way to be. It is our duty to ensure a safe and conducive learning environment.
* Sex education – ONLY college levels and above – should be an option at the parents’ discretion. If parents do not want their children to attend discussions on the subject, then it should be the parents’ choice to withdraw their children. I took my child away.
*Cybersecurity – as a wife of a police officer, I know firsthand the cyberattacks our children can and will suffer. Talk about that! Talk about it not only at school but parents, talk about it with your children at home. It’s not just about bullying through social media, but about keeping our children’s well-being safe from predators and monitoring their online activities.
*Mental Health – our schools must continue to recruit the best of the best in school counsellors, behavioral specialists, psychologists, etc. and a senior student guiding students in our schools on the subject of mental health. And we need to maintain open communication with parents about this.
BNJ: What is the best way to address differences of opinion among board members or between board and administration/teachers/staff?
Evans: If you watch or attend board meetings, which I hope, you’ll see several meetings over the past couple of years showing that board members are outflanking other board members. administration or the superintendent who are not professional. Each board member must find common ground. Respect is paramount and disagreement should never be confused with disrespect. Our differences of opinion should not be taken to social media for divisive purposes. We continue to lose to social media and become increasingly unable to communicate effectively with each other. We need more competition in the marketplace of ideas. We need more good people who serve and listen. It’s the only way to make things better.
BNJ: How can the Board of Education best communicate with its constituents?
Evans: The board needs to have a clear communications plan. Always keep public opinion in perspective. We need to know the pulse of our community. Commit to earning and maintaining the trust of the community. I represent you, the families of BCSS. Be available and listen. Give me your news! Be honest. You will get the facts from me. Always, always followed.