ELECTION 2016: Wood, Coffey seek school board seats
Keith Wood has been a farmer his whole life, so he knows something about hard work.
He hopes to take that mentality to the Cherokee County Board of Education as a Democratic candidate for one of the two seats in District 1. Wood, who has lived his entire life in Andrews, wants to see schools acknowledge that not every student follows the same path to educational success.
“It comes down to what do kids want to do? Ideally, everyone goes to college, but that is not going to happen,” he said. “All kids are smart enough to go to college, but some of them are not college material, and we need to offer more vocational education. There are some better-paying jobs that you can get by learning a trade than from some of these college degrees you can get.”
Wood works with the N.C. Extension Service, an arm of the state university system. He added that serving on the school board would be similar in mission to what he does for a living.
“I want to see the school system do well,” he said. “I think the schools have slipped some. We had some Cs and Ds, which were not acceptable. The system is on its way back up, but I would like to see us continue to go up. The kids are our future.”
As for students who do have college aspirations, Wood said he reviewed a recent list of local students and their destination colleges, and he did see any of the larger state schools on the list.
“Why are kids not getting into these bigger schools? If the schools being graded low in the past is causing the universities to overlook these kids, we need to look hard at that,” Wood said.
He also favors providing a life skills class, as well as making sure art and music are not first on the chopping block when budget cuts are made.
Wood cites aging school facilities as a major long-term financial challenge for the schools, along with helping provide adequate supplies so teachers do not have to pay as much out of their own pockets.
In general, though, he said it is important to stress to educators the importance of reaching our ever-changing young people in today’s technological world.
“Millennials are more day-to-day, with social media and everything going on,” Wood said. “Kids are on their phones way too much and don’t have any social interaction.
“We have a mentality that they are entitled, someone is going to give it to them. They don’t have to earn it. Change has to come from the home, and we have to support that.”
Wood wants a better future for young people
John Coffey has not run for public office before, but raising two children through Cherokee County Schools has made him want to help other local youths succeed.
“I just want to try to make it a better school for the future generations to be better prepared,” he said via email.
An employee of Duke Power Co., Coffey recently was assigned to help folks in the eastern part of North Carolina regain electricity services after damage caused by Hurricane Matthew.
Coffey is a half-year away from both his children graduating from Andrews High School. He has volunteered as an activity bus driver, but has seen plenty of issues in his role as a parent.
“We need stability with our teachers. They get moved around too much,” he said. “There also are not enough classes offered to students to help prepare them for the workforce after high school.”
Coffey has a simple platform for his candidacy.
“I will work hard for all the students of Cherokee County,” he said.