Candidate Q&A

East Tallahatchie School District

School Board Election 2022

Our public education questionnaire was offered to school board candidates in the November 8 school board elections. Search below for responses from board districts that have opposing candidates. Unopposed candidates are not included.

District 7

James Lewis Honey Johnson 


Santrail Hunt Kuykendall

Advanced to runoff


Tawanda Smith Shannon

Advanced to runoff
1.  What has been your involvement with the community and school district? Describe your leadership and volunteerism in the community. Did you or your children attend school in the district? Have you volunteered in or been employed by the school district?  I am a 1992 graduate of Charleston High School. I began my teaching career at CMS in 1999. I have three children who have graduated from CHS, and I have three children currently attending school in the East Tallahatchie School District. I have 23 years of experience in the field of education as a teacher and a school counselor. I have volunteered for the Robert Hill Youth Foundation, Trinity Youth League, and the Tallahatchie Delta Youth League for many years. I participate in community events such as Cancer Walks and rallies. I have been the President of the PTO at Charleston Elementary School, and I am currently the President of the newly formed TIGERS PTO as part of the P-16 Council for East Tallahatchie School District.
2.  Why do you want to serve on your school board?  School board members/trustees adopt policies and plans that are developed to maximize student achievement. I feel that my 23 years of experience will allow me to help facilitate the adoption of policies and plans that have been successful in increasing student achievement and moving school districts forward on the accountability model. I will also be able to help make modifications to existing policies and plans that have been developed to meet the goals established in the East Tallahatchie School District.
3.  Students from low-income households often need additional resources to achieve academic success. What should your school district do to ensure that all students are successful?  The East Tallahatchie School District should develop plans and acquire resources that are specific to the needs of the students. This can be accomplished by completing needs assessments that are tailored to gather specific data that can be used to ensure specific needs are met and that resources are allocated as uniquely as possible to meet the needs of the students.
4.  What strategies would you support to create a safer school environment?  What can your school district do to address cyberbullying, mental health, and physical safety?  To create a safer school environment and one that addresses cyberbullying, mental health, and physical safety, the ETSD can form partnerships with community stakeholders and other resources to provide training to staff, students, and the community on the importance of safe school environments, preventing cyberbullying, addressing mental health issues and plans to address physical safety in the schools. These trainings will provide information as well as real-time incidents that facilitate the necessity and importance of such trainings.
5.  What do you see as the most pressing infrastructure needs facing your district?  The most pressing infrastructure needs facing the ETSD is facility maintenance and upgrades that will provide safe physical environments that will facilitate learning and student achievement.
6.  Mississippi school districts are funded by a mix of federal, state, and local funds. The state contributes to local school districts through the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP). MAEP is intended to fund teacher salaries, retirement and benefits, transportation costs, facility maintenance and utilities, special education and other programs, but it is underfunded statewide this year by $279-million. What role will you play in advocating for full funding of MAEP for your district?  As an educator, providing full funding of MAEP will help lessen the teacher shortage rates. It will also help retain teachers who may be thinking of leaving the profession for other occupations that pay more.
7.  Vouchers for private school tuition and online schools divert public funds away from public schools. Do you agree that tax dollars should be used for only public schools and not for non-public schools? Why or why not?  Personally, I think tax dollars should be spent on public schools because public schools receive more scrutiny and are held more accountable than private schools. If tax dollars are to fund both types of schools, both should have to meet the same standards to continue to receive tax dollars.
8. In Mississippi, academic standards are set by the Mississippi Department of Education and local districts choose curricula from an MDE approved list. Do you trust educators in your district to teach using their professional judgement and training or should teaching be further regulated by school board policy or law? If you believe teaching should be further regulated, how so?  Teachers should be trusted to teach the curriculum chosen; however, teachers will also need continued training to ensure they have a variety of instructional strategies to meet the individual and collective needs of the students they teach. More and more emphasis should be placed on professional development for teachers since more and more are coming from the alternate route to the profession. Teacher support is a critical component of teacher retention.
9. Mississippi is experiencing a severe teacher shortage. What strategies will you support to recruit and retain high quality educators?  A start has already been made by increasing the salaries. More needs to be added to this component as well. Also, there should be an alternate method of attaining a teaching license because not everyone tests well. This is a premise that is used in the classroom so why is it not used to license teachers.

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