Editor's note: This is the second of two candidate profiles for Bulloch County Board of Education District 5. Glennera Martin is featured today. Vernon D. Littles was featured Tuesday.
Glennera Martin says she would like to serve on the Bulloch County Board of Education to advocate for children and the community and bring some ideas of her own to the board.
"I want to continue to build on the positive things that they're doing while at the same time add any new, innovative programs that will help the system," Martin said. "And as I serve as an advocate for children and for people, I think the experiences I've had will help this school system, but they are doing some good things."
She is challenging incumbent Vernon Littles for the District 5 seat. It's a rematch of the 2010 race. The nonpartisan election will be decided along with the May 20 primary.
Martin, 70, has made education her life's work. Born in Bulloch County, she got her first, brief teaching job at Mary Jackson Elementary School, which was in Nevils. She then taught five years in Chatham County before returning to Statesboro, where she served as a language arts consultant for the First District Regional Educational Service Agency.
But her longest tenure was with the Burke County Schools, where she served in several central office posts, including curriculum director, parent coordinator, Title I director and coordinator for the ESOL, or English for Speakers of Other Languages, program. She retired there in 2009 after 44 years in the profession. She has since done some consulting work with the Dublin City Schools.
Martin earned her Education Specialist degree in administration and instructional support from the University of Georgia, taking some of the classes at Georgia Southern. Her master's degree is also from UGA; her bachelor's degree, from Savannah State University.
One innovation Martin proposes is an effort to develop a closer relationship with state legislators. "If they're aware of what's taking place in Bulloch County" the school system may have more input on state decisions, she reasons. She suggests inviting legislators for a tour of schools or a luncheon with the board.
Another of her ideas is monitoring the progress of subgroups such as gifted students and migrant students, or speakers of other languages.
"Sometimes we focus on the kids at the medium level and forget all the others," Martin said.
She also suggests holding "educational summits" around the county to update people on what is taking place in the school system.
"I think the most important role for a BOE member is to develop policy and serve as an advocate for children and parents," Martin said.
On a volunteer basis, Martin has interceded with law enforcement and school officials for children and parents. She mentioned some examples.
Asked what her priority would be if elected, Martin said she would focus on learning about the budget first.
"I need to understand the budget and how this budget process will actually impact curriculum, instruction and personnel," she said. "I think that's first and foremost. Even though I've dealt with large amounts of money with Title I, this may be somewhat different."
All candidates were asked their thoughts about the Common Core State Standards. The Bulloch County Schools are in the second year of implementing these.
"I think the standards are really advantageous for our school system as well as any other school system," Martin said. "When you do implement programs like the Common Core standards, there are some glitches; there are some things you need to improve on."
She observed that because of the standards, a fifth-grader who moved from Bulloch County to Orlando, Florida, for example, would still be expected to learn the same things. She also likes that the standards emphasize critical thinking instead of rote learning.
However, Martin thinks one flaw in implementation has been that teachers have not received enough professional development, in other words training, on applying the standards.
"If that fifth-grader is reading on a second-grade level, what are you going to do?" she said. "You've got to be able to adjust that curriculum, those standards, so that they'll meet that student's needs, and that's difficult for teachers unless they have the proper staff development."
Funding for staff development was the first thing Martin mentioned when asked what her priorities would be for financial resources. Technology would be another of her priorities, she said.
But increasing salaries is mentioned on her campaign fliers.
"My next priority would be raises for school personnel," Martin said. "I think they do a great job. When I say school personnel I mean the teachers, the custodians are often overlooked, the lunchroom workers, and if you can give them just a little bit more money you'll see a difference in performance."
Martin is unmarried and has no children of her own, but says she views the community's children as her children.
Her community service work has included organizing events such as a community cleanup and countywide pastor appreciation events with the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs.
She serves on the education committee with the African-American Business Owners' Coalition and as volunteer services coordinator for the Association of Retired Educators. A past secretary of the Savannah State University Foundation, she now chairs it bylaws committee.
"I just enjoy working with people and I know that's very important that you have a good relationship with the people you work with because sometimes if you want to accomplish something, you work together as a group," she said.
Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9454.