UNION — A strong public education system is the key to Union County remaining globally competitive with other communities and other countries, school board candidate Ann Stevens says.
Stevens, a Carlisle native who graduated from Sims High School in 1966, is running for the District 1 seat on the Union County Board of School Trustees.
In announcing her candidacy, Stevens said that if Union County is to remain competitive in the global economy, it must have a workforce with the education and skills that will make it attractive to industries like Gestamp, ESAB and Gonvauto. She said the key to producing such a workforce is the public education system which she said must be supported and strengthened.
“Public education must be our top priority,” Stevens said. “Education is the key to all of us being well-rounded individuals and it is the key to us as a county being globally competitive. It is the key to our being able to compete with other communities, other states and other countries.”
Stevens was a teacher and administrator at USC Union for 28 years and has worked as a substitute teacher in Union County schools and in other districts. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a Concentration in Business from USC Upstate and a masters in Business Organizational Management from Wesleyan University.
In addition to her educational background, Stevens served one term as mayor of the Town of Carlisle and a total of 10 years as a member of the town council. She is also chairman of the Union County Democratic Party.
Stevens said she wants to bring her experience as an educator and civic leader to the board and serve as an advocate for Union County’s schools, teachers and students.
“I’m a lifelong educator and civic leader and an advocate for quality public education,” Stevens said. “If elected I will continue to be an advocate for quality public education and a voice for our children and teachers. A strong public education system that has our children as its number one priority is needed. Our teachers and parents matter in achieving a strong public education system that makes our children’s education and their future its number one priority.”
Stevens said local support for the public education system is especially vital now that there appears to be little support for it at the state level. She said she is concerned about what she said is the lack of support for public education on the part of Gov. Nikki Haley and State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais.
“I have a deep concern when I see see our governor is one that doesn’t seem to support our public education system,” Stevens said. “She cuts funding for our teachers who now must use their own funds to buy what they need in the classroom.
“Then there’s our State Superintendent of Education who refused federal money that would have helped education,” she said. “If money is being offered for education from the federal level then the state should receive it and so should all the counties in South Carolina.”
Stevens said if she’s elected to the board she will work with other trustees to not only support public education, but to ensure that everything is being done to keep students in school and to prepare them for the challenges they will face after graduation.
“As a local board member I want to do whatever I can, to be a team player and work with the other trustees,” Stevens said. “We need to look at has been done and what will need to be done to reduce out drop-out rate and increase our graduation rate. We need to make sure that students are being advised to take preparatory courses that will give them the foundation they need to pursue higher education that will make them well-rounded persons who will be able to successfully compete for jobs with other people from around the world.”
District 1 encompasses the Carlisle, Santuc, Black Rock and Cross Keys precincts.
The seat is currently held by incumbent B.J. McMorris.