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Carter runs for BoE seat
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After more than 30 years in education, Liberty County native Carolyn Smith Carter hopes to use her experiences to help improve the quality of student learning in Liberty County.
From her 19 years in the classroom and five years in administration as an assistant principal, Carter wants to help move the school system to where "students will have to be the priority."
"I just feel like I can still make a difference," she said.
Carter has observed how the district could greatly benefit by beginning to integrate "best practices."
"Sometimes I'm not sure whether the board members really can recognize what is considered best practices or what's on the forefront as far as student learning is concerned," Carter said.
While she feels the present board has made "outstanding strides," in technology and facilities, Carter questions if the priority is "student achievement ... or bricks and mortar."
"I just feel like we can do a better job and hopefully, I can contribute to that," Carter said.
Also in an effort to better the board, Carter thinks it is vital for the board to "embrace a partnership with our stakeholders," identifying stakeholders has administrators, teachers, parents and students.
"There's a lot of work to be done, but I think it all goes back to working in isolation and not knowing what each school does," she said.
Carter's "ideal" vision would have collaboration among schools, and some required school programs.
"Sometimes each little school operates as its own little city," she said. "It is unique, but there should be some commonality when it comes to student learning and programs and initiatives on the county level."
Carter thinks the system also can benefit from outside input; she advocates stronger connections with neighboring school systems to help identify different options in addressing some local problems.
Carter has been conducting an informal, man-on-the-street survey, compiling written responses of residents' top three concerns with the district education system.
"In addition to what you think is of most worth, you should listen to constituents," Carter said. "I needed to hear their voice."
Much of the public discontent Carter said she is seeing is with the standardized testing, particularly the recent CRCT.
"I think the remediation for us is a bit late," Carter said. "Some school systems, beginning in October, start accessing their student population to see where the weak links are."
Other issues she is hearing include student discipline, meeting student-specific needs and teachers' displayed "personal relations skills," to parents.
There is something to be said when former students of the school system who decide to take their children to private school or a school outside the county, according to Carter.
"I think we can do a better job of making people feel more comfortable," she said.
Carter is running for the district 2 seat, currently held by Charlie Frasier.
Though she was urged on by many acquaintances, Carter carefully thought about her decision to run for the BoE.
She focused a lot of energy on caring for her bedridden mother before she died earlier this year.
Carter also has a special-needs son and she thinks caring for him gives her an edge in "really believing that all children can learn."
"I've found myself always having a passion for learning," Carter said. "That has never ceased in my heart."
She attends First Calvary Missionary Baptist Church and sits on Liberty County Historic Preservation committee. Carter also is a past member of the Library Board.

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