Cheri Wagner, Bulloch County Board of Education member in District 1, says she wants to continue on the board because she believes in the school system’s current direction and wants to help the schools continue on the path shown by their strategic plan.
Wagner has challengers for the District 1 seat. Shalah Hendrix signed up as a candidate Monday, the first day of qualifying, and H. Lee Jones has said he will run.
“I’m excited and I believe in the direction that the school system is heading,” Wagner said. “I know that we have great employees, that are some of the best in our state, and I truly believe that as we continue on our current path that we’re going to become one of the leading models within Georgia and that our employees are going to get some of that recognition that they deserve.”
Wagner, 47, was first elected in 2012 and so is in the final year of a first term. She and her husband, Rob Wagner, have one son, who will graduate from Statesboro High School this spring and is headed to Emory University. Cheri Wagner has a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from the University of Delaware and currently teaches nursing as an adjunct instructor at Ogeechee Technical College.
As a Board of Education member, she is 2016 co-vice chair, along with Maurice Hill after a tied vote of the members in January. Along with Paul Webb, the school system’s chief operations officer, Wagner also co-chairs the facilities committee, which includes representatives from all 15 schools, with board member Mike Sparks also participating.
Last year, the committee prioritized a list of building projects, of which the board has funded the first 12.
Wagner said this type of “board driven” committee with involvement of parents and other community members is a positive approach.
“As you’ve seen in the facilities committee, the board is acting on those recommendations, and it’s done through a systematic process where everybody has an equal voice in the decisions that are reached,” she said.
Wagner also serves on the school system’s College, Technical and Agricultural Education Advisory Council. In fall 2014, she represented Bulloch schools at the national Pathways to Prosperity conference in Boston.
Before becoming an elected school board member, she served on the Parent Involvement Advisory Committee and on the Bulloch County Foundation for Public Education. She also served on William James Middle School’s council, was WJMS Parent Teacher Organization president and was active in the Academic Booster Club at Statesboro High.
Currently, she mentors students in the Reach Scholarship program and volunteers with sight and hearing testing in the elementary schools. She has volunteered with the annual Teen Maze program put on the Bulloch County Alcohol and Drug Council.
She volunteers with Special Olympics and attends the county and state games. This year, she is coordinating the student volunteers.
Wagner is a Boys & Girls Club of Bulloch County board member, serving as its secretary and chairing a committee. She attends Connection Church, and volunteers with the First United Methodist Church soup kitchen, and listed other current and past volunteer roles on a bio.
The active involvement of parents and other community members with the schools has been a theme of some of Wagner’s work with the board. Three years ago, the board and Superintendent Charles Wilson developed a strategic plan with input from the community. Revised for conciseness last year, the plan includes goals that all the schools have in common.
“I want to see what we’ve started through, I want to see it continue, and I really love some of the things,” Wagner said. “I really love that we’ve implemented a strategic plan, so that as a county we’re all striving for the same vision, the same goals, at the same time.”
Meanwhile, last year the board worked with Wilson in a process that gives principals more say in how money allocated to the schools is spent.
“But at the same time, I’m glad that we’ve given our principals and our school staffs that flexibility and autonomy, to be innovative in how they want to do their staffing, … to do teaching within their schools, those types of things, so that they can meet the needs that their particular students have,” Wagner said.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.