In the News Voter’s Guide – Spirit of Jefferson Edition

Voter’s Guide – Spirit of Jefferson Edition

Thankful for the opportunity to be included in the Spirit of Jefferson Voter’s Guide. Here is my submission, based on questions and word count guidelines:

ABOUT YOU (Please limit your answers to about 150 words)

Your name: Jim Watkins

Your age: 63

The town where you live: Shepherdstown

Your occupation/where you work: Retired teacher/technology integration specialist Jefferson County Schools

Any diplomas or degrees you hold and from what school(s): BA – History Shepherd College, MS-Integrated Marketing Communications West Virginia University

The website or Facebook address where voters can learn more:

QUESTIONS (Please keep each answer to 200 words or less)

1. Why are you the best candidate?

Word Count = 197

Among all the candidates, I believe my knowledge and life experiences are unique. I served four years in the U.S. Army (1972 – 1976), as member of the 101st Airborne Division and the Presidential Honor Guard in Washington, D.C. I attended Shepherd College on the G.I. bill. I worked ten years on a congressional staff representing this area. I know how local, state, and federal governments work, including how to locate essential resources in support of local schools. I would be an advocate on the local, state, and federal levels for meaningful support of education in Jefferson County. I was a successful classroom teacher, selected as Jefferson High School “Teacher of the Year” in the 2009 – 2010 school year. I have a West Virginia Department of Education advanced certification as a Technology Integration Specialist. Before retiring last year, I worked with teachers and students throughout the county in support of 21st century teaching and learning. I worked with all departments at the Board of Education, including Curriculum and Instruction. I have an unfiltered view of the day-to-day operation of Jefferson County Schools, and believe I can help build on what is working and help fix what is not.

2. If you win, what will be your top priority?

Word Count = 194

Many of the challenges now facing Jefferson County Schools have been a longtime in the making. For example, the need for new schools has been evident for quite some time now. The older schools in the county are showing their age, with increasing maintenance costs, outdated design, and, yes, even the lack of the power supply needed to support 21st century classrooms. The lack of a future focus has delivered us to where we are now. We need to move beyond discussing how many students can fit into a school and focus on building new schools capable of delivering a 21st century education. We need to focus on expanding opportunities for students and improving student achievement. I have offered a detailed blueprint for implementing a K-12 computer science program, including high school-level math and science electives focusing on computer science. The details are on my website. As for student achievement, Department of Education numbers show Jefferson County student annual proficiency ratings at levels that equal a failing grade on a report card. The primary responsibility for student achievement rests with the Board of Education.  We must do better.  Our children’s future depends on it.