Richmond Hill resident Candace Piper is running for the Board of Education District 3 seat.
Charlie Johnson and Charles Blakewood also qualified and the three will be up against each other in the Bryan County general primary election July 15.
Piper and her family moved to Bryan County in 2002 and her children, Allie, 13, and Cameron, 11, both attend school in the district.
"I’m a mother who has volunteered an awful lot in several of the schools and I’m thinking a mother is an important person to have represented on the board," Piper said. "I think it’s time for some younger people – people with children in the school system – to be involved in how the board makes decisions."
Piper said she’s gone to as many board meetings as she could in the last several years to listen to what the board has to say. She first began volunteering at the Richmond Hill Primary School, where she worked a few days a week in the media center. She was president of the RHPS PTSO for two years, vice president of the PTSO at Carver Elementary School for two years, president of the Student Council for one year and was on last year’s ESPLOST committee. She has also served on the Parent Advisory Council since its inception and noted she wishes more parents would contact her with ideas, concerns and feedback.
"When you’re there volunteering every day, you see the little things that would make the lives of parents and students so much easier. That’s what’s missing from the board – that day-to-day perspective to make the students’ lives better," Piper said. "That’s what I think as a mother and volunteer, I bring to the table."
One of Piper’s ideas for the district is a calling system to improve the advertisement of issues and events going on at the schools. She used the example of the uniform debate last year. A phone survey could have gone out to every parent in the district, with them simply pushing a button to vote for or against the idea, she explained. Or, if there’s an upcoming event, an automatic phone call announcement can go out to remind parents of the date, place and time.
"Parents need better information; they need to know what’s going on…You have to stay informed with what’s happening in our schools, there’s nothing more important than the education of our children" she said.
Piper said increased communication with parents is critical, and she’s seen lots of different ways to improve it.
"A lot of what parents need or want, most of it is little issues that can be easily taken care of," she said. "One of the hardest things we do as parents are try to educate our children – and I don’t want it to be hard anymore – I want it to be accessible."
She also is proactive for improving the athletic and extra curricular activity programs.
"I think Richmond Hill is ready for Friday night football events where the whole community gets involved. We need to turn these into community-supported programs," she said, noting she’d like to see how other schools have successfully grown their programs and get ideas from that.
Piper said she is already familiar with how the logistics of the school district works and has a working knowledge of what the state and local BoE are able to do within their guidelines.
"I hope that I have a lot to offer, I really do care about the children and what’s best for them. I’m a positive person and I want things to move forward," she said. "I know we have some growth issues and the school district is working on that, but I still think there are more issues to be addressed with that. I have an understanding of all of this from a personal perspective."
Piper’s husband Rick is the vice president of national accounts at JCB, which is how they ended up in the area. She said they chose Richmond Hill specifically for the school system. Piper is also preparing to open a new business, Hit the Books used book store, slated to open at the end of May where Signature Outfitters used to be. The store will also offer educational tutoring services and hopefully a summer science camp this year, she said.