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Meet the candidates for the McDuffie County Board of Education

Single District 7

Mike Love (I)

Family: Married to Krisa, they have two children. Daughter Kori is a ninth grader at Thomson High and son Kevin is in the sixth grade at Thomson Middle School.

Education/Occupation: Mr. Love graduated from THS in 1982 and is the collection manager for First Bank of Georgia in Thomson.

Religious and/or Civic Involvement: Mr. Love is a member of Macedonia United Methodist Church, the McDuffie County Recreation Department Advisory Board, the Board of Directors of "Its Spooky to be Hungry," and Leadership McDuffie.

Political Experience: He is currently representing District 7 on the Board of Education.

Why are you running for the Board of Education? "To improve the drop out rate and the graduation rate, and continue improving the excellence of academics in education."

What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing the school system today? "The austerity cuts have hurt education. Also, safety is a big issue - safety on buses, and creating an all around safe environment for our children. These children are going to be our providers one day and they deserve the best education we can provide."

Rick McCorkle

Family: Married to Cindy, who is a bookkeeper at Thomson Middle School. They have one son, Aaron, who is a senior at Thomson High School.

Education/Occupation: A graduate of THS, Mr. McCorkle is the store manager for Bi-Lo in Thomson. He has been a manager for 25 years, and is also a member of the Bi-Lo Store Manager Council, which works with the Executive Board.

Religious and/or Civic Involvement: He is a deacon and youth Sunday School teacher at Sweetwater Baptist Church, the current President of the Thomson High Booster Club, past president of Thomson Middle Booster Club. Mr. McCorkle has also been on the board of the Thomson-McDuffie United Way and the Chamber of Commerce for three years.

Why are you running for the Board of Education? "Because I lost my other son in an accident when he was only 14, I have a passion for kids. I understand how important children are, and it bothers me that we don't see parents involved with their kids. I hope to encourage more parental involvement, especially the dads, plus be involved with the educators. Hopefully, I'm the type who can encourage the parents to be involved and be a part of the solution to the problems."

What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing the school system today? "The drop out rates, which again ties into the parents being involved in their children's education. Out of the 75 football players we have, there are probably only 20 dads at the Booster Club meetings, and most of them don't even have children on the team. I know the ninth grade is where we lose a lot of them, and I think Dr. Petersen is addressing this with the new 8-9 school. The biggest challenge is keeping the kids in school. I think we've got a good school system and great teachers."

Single District 3

Rev. Ella Mae Samuels

Family: Married to Junnie Samuels. She has three adult children who live in North Carolina, California and Maryland.

Occupation: Regional Presiding Elder for African Methodist Episcopal Churches. She was a paraprofessional and administrative assistant for over 30 years with the educational systems in Emanuel and Treutlen Counties

Education: She graduated from Treutlen County High School, and has a business administration diploma from Swainsboro Area Technical College and further studies, "not a degree yet," in education from Brewton-Parker College and Erskine Theological Seminary.

Religious and/or Civic Involvement: Supervisor of pastors in 39 churches from Thomson to Gainesville, is a volunteer chaplain for hospice at St. Joseph Hospital in Augusta, currently serves on the Thomson-McDuffie Tourism Board, the Ethics Committee at Thomson Manor, and is a Notary Public.

Why are you running for the Board of Education? "I want to be involved in the decision making process that affects our children and help sharpen their reasoning skills so they can make better choices."

What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing the school system today? "I think children become involved in disruptive, ineffective behavior that could be linked to low self-esteem. We need to encourage them to make better choices... And of course, safety, our schools need to be safe."

Alphonzo "Donnie" McNair

Family: Married to Shirley, they have four children, two still in high school and two grown.

Education: Graduated from Thomson High in 1979, and from Augusta Tech in 1981.

Occupation: Lab Technician at J.M. Huber

Religious and/or Civic Involvement: Mr. McNair is an active member of Mount Aldred CME Church.

Why are you running for the Board of Education? "My main interest is the children. I've always been active in the schools, because I have kids in them. I'm just concerned and to see if I can make a difference. I don't have any complaints. McDuffie County has one of the greatest school systems there is, and I just want to maintain that and add on to it."

What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing the school system today? "Discipline and the kids' behavior. That is one of the main problems in the school. The teachers can't spend time teaching because they spend time disciplining. We can do something about discipline, and you would see even the scores change and increase even more."

Super District 1

Georgia Hobbs (I)

Family: Married to Earnest Hobbs, Jr. They have one daughter, Monica, a teacher in Cobb County.

Education: Graduated from Thomson High School, earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Education from Savannah State College and a Master of Education Degree from the University of Georgia.

Occupation: Retired from 31 years as a classroom teacher in McDuffie County. Mrs. Hobbs currently teaches part-time at Augusta Technical College Thomson-McDuffie Campus.

Religious and/or Civic Involvement: She is an active member of Popular Spring Baptist Church, the Tri-County Retired Educators Association, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the McDuffie County Planning Board, and the McDuffie Regional Medical Center Auxiliary.

Political Experience: Mrs. Hobbs currently serves on the McDuffie County Board of Education.

Why are you running for the Board of Education? "I have been involved in helping children succeed all of my adult life. While our school system has been successful in reaching new heights in student achievement, there is still room for improvement. I want to be a part of providing the environment and tools necessary to achieve excellence in all areas of performance."

What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing the school system today? "Unfortunately, we are asked to do more with fewer dollars. Adequate funding is always in the forefront. Locating adequate resources for children who display behavior problems is essential. Finally, providing resources to help children stay in school and prepare for life. Currently, we are losing more than 30 percent of students prior to graduation. We need to provide an alternative for children who are not succeeding in the traditional school setting."

Kenneth McNeal

Family: One daughter, son-in-law and 2-year-old grandson who lives in Thomson.

Occupation: Maintenance Supervisor for the McDuffie County Recreation Department for 25 years.

Education: Mr. McNeal said he did not graduate from high school and has no further education.

Why are you running for the Board of Education? "I want to help the kids, I'm all about the kids. I've worked for the Recreation Department for 25 years, and I've been involved in coaching, and I just want what's good for the kids."

What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing the school system today? "Right off hand, I really couldn't say. I haven't been keeping up with it."

Web posted on Thursday, November 02, 2006

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