April Newkirk, first elected to the Bulloch County Board of Education from District 4 in 2018, said she wants to continue on the board as a team player to empower and support teachers, give parents a voice and improve student success.
She identifies the development of “a true plan” for school buildings to address population growth as one of the tasks ahead.
A teacher of teachers as a College of Education clinical instructor for Georgia Southern University, Newkirk is also the mother of four children, and the three who are old enough are all enrolled in Bulloch County schools. She faces two challengers for the board seat, Donna Clifton and Kathy Sherrod. District 4 voters could decide this nonpartisan race in the May 24 election, or there could be a June 21 runoff.
Asked what she offers as a Board of Education member and why she wants to continue to serve, Newkirk began by stating that she first sought election to the board because she believes in public education.
“I believe in what it has to offer the community and our children,” Newkirk wrote. “I believe in empowering and supporting teachers so that they can do what they have been trained to do.
“I believe that in the work that the board does, it provides teachers and administrators the resources they need in making a difference with each child that enters their schools,” she continued. “I also believe that as a board member, my job is to make sure that families have a voice in the process.”
She asserts that a team effort within the community is required.
“Since joining the board, I have been reminded of the power of teamwork,” Newkirk said. “I have joined a team of eight to help make decisions that can have a huge impact on the boys and girls of our community.”
Herald: What are your biggest concerns for the Bulloch County Schools, their students (and students’ parents), teachers and staff?
Newkirk: “We need to look at student success and whether we are creating life-long learners that are prepared for the world around them. We need to continue to focus on balanced literacy in sparking a joy of reading for every child. We also need to seek out ways to focus support on teachers and administrators. We also need a board of representatives that question the system and refuse to rubber stamp everything placed in front of them.”
Herald: What changes or improvements would you like to see made in the schools? What would you like to see continued?
Newkirk: “I believe it is important for the school system to have clear, measurable goals for each school that support their specific needs. In that process, the school system should be transparent with the outcomes and next steps. The children of our community deserve high-functioning schools with clear goals for their success.
“I would also like to see a true plan for buildings to address the population growth in the county,” she said. “This would include reasonable land purchases and strategic planning with county and city officials. The community needs to work together to address these issues.”
Herald: How would you balance the interests of taxpayers with the needs of students and school employees?
Newkirk: “The most important aspect of this is to be transparent in spending. The Board of Education needs to ensure spending is linked to strategic priority outcomes that support student learning and extracurricular activities”
Professionally, Newkirk been employed by Georgia Southern in her current role as an instructor and coordinator of field experiences for teacher interns and new teachers since 2008.
Before that she was an elementary school teacher. She also serves as an educational consultant to teachers and administrators.
Newkirk has volunteered in schools by teaching lessons and reading to children and helped in with car rider lines in the elementary schools. She also traveled to the United Kingdom to visit and work in classrooms.
She and her husband, Nick, have been married for 18 years. Of their three school-age sons, one is a high schooler, one a middle schooler and one in elementary grades, all in Bulloch County Schools. Their youngest son is 2 years old.
Newkirk attained her Bachelor of Science in Education in 2004 and her Master of Education in 2008, both from Georgia Southern. She is now a candidate there for the Doctorate of Education, expecting to complete and defend her dissertation in the next year.