May 14—If elected to the Whitfield County Board of Education, Amber McMahan would focus most on getting — and keeping — parents involved with schools.
McMahan is one of three candidates — along with Joe Barnette, a retired educator, and Greg Williams, who is in inventory control — in the Republican Party primary for the District 4 seat on the school board currently held by Republican Joseph Farmer, who is not seeking re-election. Not qualified Democrat. School board elections are countywide. The term is for four years.
“If I bring one thing to the table, it would have to be that,” said McMahan, a graduate of Northwest Whitfield High School who lives in Rocky Face with her husband Jeremy and their children, Hannah, a senior at Northwest, and Sadie , a third-grader at Westside Elementary School. “I’d like to see more community involvement and parent involvement.”
As her eldest daughter has grown up in the school system, McMahan has seen how parents are often much more involved when their children are young, then grow less so as children age.
When their children are in elementary school, for example, parents visit schools often, and they know the teachers and administrators well at those schools, she said. However, that tends to dissipate by the time children reach high school, and McMahan would love to foster “a sense of togetherness throughout” Whitfield County Schools.
“We have so many programs our kids are involved in,” from sports to FFA to the arts to academic competitions, she said. As parents, “be present, (because) being there shows your commitment.”
“Back all the children in these” endeavors, because “we want every child to have a chance to grow and develop, whatever that looks like,” she said. “We just want to support” students.
McMahan, a nurse practitioner who attended nursing school at Dalton State College, was a member of an advisory committee board at Dalton State for the school’s RN (registered nurse) to BSN (bachelor of science in nursing) program, so she has experience on a board, she said. She and her husband de ella have also long been active PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) members, and PTO remains “the best thing we have at involving young parents” in schools.
Parents who become involved in the school system when their children are young are more likely to remain involved, she said.
“Maybe there are some community outreach programs we can look at to help even more” with parental engagement.
Beyond increasing community and parental engagement with the school system, “I know we have been working on improving facilities, and we have some very nice facilities,” said McMahan. Academic performances by students can also be improved, “but we have a good graduation rate and a good acceptance rate into colleges.”
Voting on Tuesday, May 24, will be in the regular locations for elections in Whitfield County, with polls open from 7 am to 7 pm
There is early voting through Friday, May 20, from 8 am to 5 pm weekdays in the county Board of Elections office, as well as today from 9 am to 5 pm, according to the Whitfield County Board of Elections and Registrar.
“I’m not a political person, and I have no big political agenda,” McMahan concluded. “I’m just a person who sees a need, and I’ll take the time to help the students, administrators and teachers” in the school system.