16 remain in race for at-large school board seats
by Staff Writer
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education will see some new faces in November, after all three at-large members decided not to seek re-election.
Although 17 candidates initially filed after the July 15 deadline, the race dropped to 16 after former teacher and counselor Maria Collias recently withdrew her name.
According to school officials, this year’s race boasts the greatest number of candidates vying for an at-large seat in the district’s history. This list is a continuation from last week’s issue of the Herald Weekly.
Family: Wife, Linda, of almost 22 years and an 18-year-old daughter, Sierra, a Providence High School graduate who will attend the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in the fall.
Education: B.S. in public administration from the University of Maine.
Work/political experience: daily and long-term substitute teacher from 1992-96, worked in sales and sales management from 1997 to present. In 2001, Insight, a Tempe, Ariz.-based business technology company, recognized Babbidge as sales manager of the year. He is currently national sales manager for Life With Bills, a Mooresville-based company that creates financial literacy software for schools.
Priorities: “I have a vision to transform CMS into the model school district,” Babbidge said. “We are trying to put 21st century children through a late 18th and 19th century Industrial Revolution-designed education system.”
To achieve this, Babbidge said the district should stop overusing standardized tests, implementing total fiscal transparency and finding innovative solutions to supplement standardized testing.
“My research has led me to the conclusion that we are wasting roughly 20 days of instruction and learning per year because of all of the standardized testing we are putting our kids through,” Babbidge said. “Standardized testing and forcing teachers to teach to the test is not what education is about.”
Contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hundley did not provide contact information to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg elections board.
Family: Wife, twin 7-year-old boys and a daughter, 10. who attend Beverly Woods Elementary School.
Education: B.A. in financing from State University of New York.
Work/political experience: Worked as banking executive for 20 years, during which he served on several boards and steering committees. He serves as president of his homeowner’s association board.
Priorities: Providing a better education product for children, helping the district win back the community and teacher support, hiring a first-class superintendent, increasing parental involvement, funding middle-school sports and providing clear leadership.
Contact information: email@example.com or 704-534-8344
Family: Three children, Erinn, Keenan and Lauren. One daughter teaches in the school district, and her grandchildren attend school within the district.
Education: B.A. in elementary education from North Carolina A&T State University.
Work/political experience: McCray recently retired from 34 years of teaching, 24 in Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools. She taught at Hemby Bridge Elementary School in Union County for 10 years before moving to Collinswood Elementary in Charlotte in 1986. She was a member of the faculty that opened Morehead Elementary and also taught at Piney Grove and Endhaven elementary schools, and Community House Middle School. She is past president of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Association of Educators.
McCray is a member of the National Council of Urban Educators, National Council of Teachers of Math, National Council for Social Studies and the International Reading Association. Locally, she was selected by her peers to receive a school Teacher of the Year and Civitan’s Citizenship Award for Civics Education. She is affiliated with the Aggie Club, the Queen City Alumni Chapter of North Carolina A&T State University, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Tuesday Morning Forum, the National Education Association and the N.C. Association of Educators.
Priorities: In announcing her candidacy, she emphasized the importance of hiring a new superintendent to continue the district’s success.
“I want to make sure that we continue the good things that happened under Dr. Gorman’s leadership,” McCray said. “I want to help the Board of Education, as well as the interim and future superintendent understand that our students, parents, teachers, staff and our community deserve to be treated with respect and sincerity when decisions are made that affect their well-being.”
She said she realizes the at-large position requires she represent the entire school district, including the towns outside of Charlotte.
“My words, my actions and my potential votes will demonstrate that I will not forget whom I serve,” she said.
Family: Mother of three children.
Work/political experience: A former day-care owner, office manager and accountant. She serves as a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Central Jail Chaplain intern, Junior Achievement teacher, motivational speaker and associate minister at Greenville Memorial AME Zion Church.
She has worked as an agency delegate for former President Bill Clinton, an education committee member for U.S. Congresswoman Sue Myrick and campaign organizer for President Barack Obama and seven other candidates for county and city government positions.
Priorities: Having served as a parent advocate and liaison between teachers and students, she said she feels that even with the federal No Child Left Behind law, which aims to have all students proficient in reading and math by 2014, many students are not only left behind, but also looked over. Safe schools, school board accountability and renewed trust are crucial parts of revitalizing the school system, she said.
Did not respond by press time.
Family: Wife, Kelly, who is pregnant with the couple’s first child.
Education: B.S. in chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana in 1996.
Work/political experience: Worked five years as an award-winning research chemist and was elected to a two-year term on a decentralized school board in Chicago, spearheading community partnerships that brought in more than $200,000 a year in discretionary funds for local schools.
In 2002, Pomis joined Teach For America and moved to North Carolina, where he taught seventh- and eighth-grade science in Durham Public Schools. In 2004, he became the founding program director for Teach for America-Charlotte, helping nearly 200 teachers find success teaching in more than 30 high-poverty Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, including West Charlotte High School. For four years, he served on a local Charlotte school board and, as chairman, led a push for budget priorities that created a surplus and increased math proficiency by 20 percent.
Pomis taught science in 2007 at the Knowledge is Power Program Charlotte, a tuition-free, open enrollment, college preparatory middle school, and his students performed in the top 10 percent of all fifth-grade science students across the state, tripling the average scores for minority students who started the school year an average of two years behind their peers in more affluent schools.
He was featured in the award-winning documentary “Souls of Our Teachers,” interviewed on “Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins: Teaching in Charlotte’s Urban Schools” and referenced in the book “Teaching as Leadership: The highly effective teacher’s guide to closing the achievement gap.”
He is now dean of instruction at the Knowledge is Power Program Charlotte.
Priorities: Giving teachers and principals what they need to succeed and close the achievement gap, creating a focused and strategic budget and instituting strong community partnerships.
“Mecklenburg County rose to the challenges of bussing and integration to increase student achievement and become a model in public education,” Pomis said. “We believed in our public schools, and we came together to meet the needs of all children. Today, we find strong community partnerships where citizens from Christ Lutheran Church have teamed up with McClintock Middle to improve absenteeism, parent involvement and student achievement. We know our kids do best when they have all of Mecklenburg County standing behind them.”
Contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or 704-576-6934.
Darrin L. Rankin
Family: Married 11 years to wife, Holly. The couple has an eight-year-old son, Myles, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools student, and a three-year-old daughter, Lana.
Education: B.S. from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and M.B.A with a concentration in Innovative Management from Syracuse University.
Work/political experience: Chief executive officer of the Rankin Insurance Group, located in Huntersville and a N.C. real estate broker with Bryan & Associates Real Estate.
He currently serves on the board for the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Athletic Foundation and second vice chairman of the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party. He is a national faculty member for the Society of Certified Insurance Counselors and member of the N.C. Association of Realtors, National Realtor Association and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. He also serves as a youth flag football coach for I-9 Sports.
In 2009, Rankin ran for an at-large seat on the Charlotte City Council.
Priorities: Improving the quality of education for all students, increasing parental and community involvement in the school system and supporting principals, teachers and staff.
“CMS must continue to close the achievement gap, increase the graduation rate and provide a meaningful learning environment,” Rankin said.
Contact information: 704-661-4428
Family: Foster parent to several grown children
Education: B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1976. He also earned an associate degree from Miami-Dade and Central Piedmont community colleges.
Work/political experience: Served as a Mecklenburg County commissioner from 1992 to 2000. He is also the founder and president of Video Taping Services.
Priorities: Hiring a new superintendent and seeking an additional 5,000 volunteers to help with tutoring in schools. Scher said the additional volunteers could “lead to higher test scores and graduation rates.”
He also wants to look at a new method of building schools that would reduce the need for bonds and bond interest through a long-term leasing program with private developers building and maintaining the school’s under a long-term contract.
Contact information: Lscher@windstream.net, 704-845-9083 (home), 704-506-4020 (cell) or Scher for School Board, 9815 Meringue Place, Charlotte.