Meadors throws hat in BOE race

Jeff Meadors

Jeff Meadors

COVINGTON -- Georgia Perimeter College Dual Enrollment Coordinator Jeff Meadors wants the Newton County Board of Education to look more closely at the classroom.

Meadors, 46, a native Georgian who has lived and worked in Newton County since 2005, recently announced that he intends to run on the Republican ticket of the District 1 seat on the school board, which is currently held by Johnny Smith.

"I've been thinking about this for a while," said Meadors, who has worked at GPC's Dual Enrollment Coordinator for one year, after teaching English at GPC since the fall 2007. "I've had encouragement from people in the county because I'm in high schools weekly (for my job). I think it's a good time."

If elected, Meadors, who has worked in education throughout his career, wants the school board to act as a team and really look into the classrooms at such things as student-teacher ratio, appropriate materials for teachers, technology, safety, professionalism and other issues.

"We need to look at what makes sense for Newton County," said Meadors, who has national experience giving lectures and presentations about problems in schools. "If we look at the classroom, we can work outward."

Being at GPC and working with students, he said he has seen more excitement lately in the schools about post-secondary education, and he wants those students to be prepared and ready. He wants to focus on making sure everything schools do are in line with student achievement, ensuring rural students are getting fair opportunities and guarding that the school system is using its facilities appropriately.

"We need to look at spending and spend conservatively," said Meadors, a member of Smart Growth Newton County.

Meadors said this does not mean furloughing teachers.

"Furloughs become an easy crutch," he said. "We need to rethink and revisit these types of cuts. ... It is not the answer. ... There is no classroom engagement on a furlough day; our kids are losing due to that."

He said teacher furloughs affect parent and teacher day care needs, teacher morale and having students away from their classrooms.

"If you don't have teachers feeling good and parents feeling good about appropriate cuts, then we have an even greater challenge," said Meadors, who was born in Macon and has lived around Georgia when his minister father had to move around with churches. "Can we cut other areas? I'm sure we can (cut things) that don't affect the classroom."

This may mean some technology and support services that don't affect the classroom, he said.

Meadors, whose mother is a retired teacher and whose brother is a business information systems teacher at DeKalb Technical College, said he is concerned about affecting the relationship between the teacher and student and the teacher's ability to appropriately plan for their students.

"They are certified from the state of Georgia and many of them have master's degrees or higher," he said. "Why are we expecting them to take pay cuts and second jobs to make ends meet? If we take care of our teachers, then our students will be taken care of. The more educated students in our county means a better Newton County."

To get some more ideas on spending and possible cuts, he wants to get more input from NCSS employees and the community and even look into other school systems at what works for them.

"You need to be a good listener, and everybody's voice counts," said Meadors, who has never held an elected seat.

He encourages anyone to e-mail him at jeffrey.meadors@gmail.com.

Meadors holds a magna cum laude bachelor's degree in English from Mercer University, a master's degree in teaching and a diploma for advanced studies in teaching from Emory University and a state certificate in leadership from the University of Georgia. He also has taught middle and high school English and was a school administrator in Atlanta City Schools and Gwinnett County. He was an adjunct professor in English and education at Emory University before coming to GPC.

In addition to the District 1 seat, Cathy Dobbs' District 3 and C.C. Bates' District 5 seats are up for re-election this year on the Newton County Board of Education.

Qualifying for the school board seats is April 26 through noon April 30. The qualifying fee is $216.