Meet the Candidates – school board

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 9, 2021

Brady Harrison


Age: 43
Office Sought: Dawson-Bryant School Board
Professional Background: Business administration
Civic Involvement: Eight years served on the Dawson-Bryant School Board
What makes you the best candidate for the job? I stay involved in what is going on in our schools and I attend state board conferences to stay updated on what changes and requirements are being made.
What professional accomplishments are you most proud of? Serving on the board of my alumni district.
What is your vision for education in your community? To continue improving the needs for our district and to stay focused on the success for our students.
What do you feel are the most important responsibilities of a school board? To stay in tune with what is going on in our district. Making sure the staff and students have what they need to be successful.
How well would you say school officials in your district have handled the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years? The guidelines were ever changing. We all just wanted to keep our students and staff safe while still providing their education.
Are you in favor of mask mandates for students and staff? With the local guidelines that are in place, a mask mandate was the only way to keep our schools open and our students receiving face-to-face education.

Martin Appleton


Age: 61
Office sought: Fairland School Board – re-election
Professional background: Retired college teacher and scientist
Civic involvement: Fairland election information mailers, Fairland Band Boosters supporter, Burns Scholarship trustee, Fairland West Elementary Playground Committee chair and 10+ years school board member
What makes you the best candidate for the job? Noncompetitive race this year.
What professional accomplishments are you most proud of? Fairland’s handling of the pandemic. Our school board and its employees kept school open for in-person instruction all last year and, at the beginning of the pandemic, our board insisted on in-person graduation for the class of 2020 that was conducted at Marshall University Stadium.
What is your vision for education in your community? Public education should provide a basic education to every child that forms the foundation for success in that child’s life. Fairland is a school first before it is anything else, like a sports team, musical group, food service or social service provider.
What do you feel are the most important responsibilities of the school board? School board members should represent taxpayer, parent and grandparent interests and remember it’s all about the children. We hire principals, a superintendent and treasurer, who are the experts, to run and manage our school. Our responsibility is to hold these experts accountable.
How well would you say school officials in your district have handled the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years? Are you in favor of mask mandates for students and staff? Fairland has handled the pandemic extremely well, as noted above. We currently have a mask mandate in place for students and staff. The purpose of this mandate is to minimize the need to quarantine anyone who has been exposed to someone who has tested positive. If you wear a mask, then you don’t need to quarantine for 10 days and miss school. We will continue to review the need for this mask mandate.

Ralph “Butch” Huff


Age: 70
Office Sought: Ironton School Board
Professional Background: Vietnam veteran; 30+ years in management
Occupation: Sales/management-Mercedes Benz
Civic Involvement: Three-time past president of the Tiger Clan, two times on Ironton City Council, 22 years on the Ironton Sports Day Committee
What makes you the best candidate for the job? My several years of experience in management and my budgeting experience while on the Ironton City Council. My family is my greatest joy. My wife, three beautiful daughters and two grandchildren are the most important part of my life.
What professional accomplishments are you most proud of? Being able to serve my country.
What is your vision for education in the community? To assure that we are meeting and exceeding the requirements that are issued by the State of Ohio.
What do you feel are the most important responsibilities of the school board? In my opinion, they are setting district policy, closely examining the Ironton School Superintendent position to assure we have the most qualified and best fit for our community, as well as establishing a budget and curriculum.
How well would you say school officials in my district have handled the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years? I feel that our school officials did a tremendous job in handling the COVID-19 pandemic, over the past two years.
Are you in favor of mask mandates for students and staff? As far as a mask mandate, I support a mandate if our governor deems it necessary and, when left to the discretion of the school superintendent, I am in agreement with the mandate being attached to the level of positive cases. I am proud of our community and how they have accepted the decisions set forth by the school officials. Thank you for this opportunity.

Rae Ann Witt


Age: 67
Office sought:  Ironton School Board
Professional Background:  37 years experience in education.  Teacher, cheerleader advisor, basketball coach, softball coach, class advisor, served on the school improvement committee.
Occupation: Retired teacher.
Civic Involvement:  Most of my involvement has been through church and school.  Tools 4 Schools program, helping with our food pantries and food giveaways. Also supporting programs at the schools for children in need.
What makes you the best candidate for the job? I have been involved in some level of education my entire career. I believe I have an understanding of what needs to be done for our students to be successful in life.
What professional accomplishments are you most proud of? Being fair and striving to treat everyone equal.
What is your vision for education in your community? I believe all students should be prepared and given the same tools to succeed in life.
What do you feel are the most important responsibilities of a school board? Supporting and protecting our student and staff in academics, athletics and the arts.
How well would you say school officials in your district have handled the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years? ICS has been very well prepared. At the beginning of school last year, they had a district-wide, very detailed plan that proved very successful.
Are you in favor of mask mandates for students and staff? Yes, I am in favor of the mask mandate.  Ironton was the first system to mandate masks, as a result, our numbers have been lower than area schools and we have been able to keep our students in class.

Austin Johnson

Age: 20
Office sought: South Point School Board
Professional background: Junior at Marshall University, studying broadcast journalism and minoring in political science. HHA @ A&L Homecare and freelancer news writer for The Daily Independent.
Civic Involvement:  I’ve led many peaceful marches and demonstrations advancing the call for equality and justice for all. I was elected to student council and student body in high school and I’ve volunteered countless hours volunteering in my community – for example, I worked the election polls in 2017 and 2018; volunteered to help with the Special Olympics in 2017 and 2019; I’ve also hosted canned food and clothing drives to support people in need.
What makes you the best candidate for the job? To have someone like me on the board — I feel that with my young mind, determination and knowledge; I can help make progress and better represent all individuals in the local school district.
What professional accomplishments are you most proud of? Winning first place for Best Enterprise Reporting in the Ohio APME awards, being named top 35 under 35 who are making a difference in Lawrence County, and becoming a Home Health Aid to help the people in need in my community.
What is your vision for education in your community? My vision is clear and that is to make sure all children that walk through the doors at SPLS remain safe and attain their diploma and graduate. My vision also consists of improving the overall quality, and changing the culture of the district.
What do you feel are the most important responsibilities of a school board? Being a voice for all students, teachers, and staff; full transparency on what is going on in the district, equal representation to all students, and a commitment to safer schools; always doing what’s best for the students, teachers and staff.
How well would you say school officials in your district have handled the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years? First, I would say SPLS did a great job handling the pandemic — I wouldn’t say their best, but, overall, a good job. Second, I am in favor of listening to health officials guidance on when to take action to save lives.
Are you in favor of mask mandates for students and staff? If health officials recommend or mandate masks, I would hear their calling and act on what the science indicates. Whatever the scientific evidence says, I will stand by.

Dennis Hankins

Age: 76
Office Sought: Rock Hill Board of Education
Professional Background: Graduate of Rock Hill High School, 1963; USMC 1963 – 1967; graduate of Ohio University, BSED 1970; graduate of University of Dayton MS, 1985; Honorary Doctorate, Marietta Bible College, 1992; Honorary Doctorate, Heritage Baptist College, 2019; United States Selective Service System member; pastor of Franklin Furnace Independent Baptist Church, 1984 – present; board Member of JWMM – Jewish Worldwide Mission Ministry; member of Advisory Board for Heritage Baptist Heraldm 2019 – Present; on staff at Grantsville Bible College – Grantsville, West Virginia, 1998 – 2005; on staff at Marietta Bible College, Marietta, Ohio, 1998 – 2005; supervisor of Reformers Unanimous Drug Addition Program, 2004 – present; teacher-coach-assistant principal, Rock Hill Jr. High and High School, 1971 – 1992; principal, Symmes Valley High School, 1992 – 1997; athletic director-coach-teacher, 1979-1980; member – American Legion presently; member and president of the Rock Hill Board of Education, 2006 – 2018; and principal of Franklin Furnace Christian Academy, 2004 – Present
What makes you the best candidate for the job? I’ve spent a lot of years in education, and many of those years were at Rock Hill. I think I know the system and the people who make up the district. The board of education is a tough job. I’m willing to make tough decisions and take the heat. I’ve learned the responsibility from 12 years of serving. I’m very proud of being a “Redman.” Rock Hill Nation is a vast number of citizens who truly love our district, They only want a quality education, fairness and safety. I will work hard for the district. With over 40 years in education, I think I can help make decisions that will move our students educationally forward.
What professional accomplishments are you proud of? I’m proud of the many students who have graduated from Rock Hill. I’m proud when I hear the success stories of those that have gone on to become doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses, laborers and electricians. I’m proud of those students who have raised families in churches and those that have followed the Lord as ministers, missionaries, deacons, etc. I’m proud when I see the campus full of beautiful, young people who want nothing more than the best education possible. I feel more comfortable talking about the accomplishments of others. Someone once said, “He who arrogantly brags on self has an audience of one.” My greatest accomplishment was receiving Christ at the age of 17.
What is your vision for education in your community? I believe technology will continue to grow and challenge schools to implement and update. Rock Hill students will be provided with state-of-the-art hardware and trained to use these new innovations. The other vision speaks of quality teachers. If we hire superior teachers, we should receive superior scores on tests. We have teachers in the district that are excellent educators. I will seek to hire only the best.
What do you feel are the most important responsibilities of a school board? To Listen! School board members should never try to run the district but be discerning in hiring the best. Let the administration run the schools. A board member is at his best when he or she listens to those who are talking. In the area of finances, a board member must listen to the treasurer, and the voice of the citizenry. They elect the board members. Board members should be professional. They need to do their homework. Rock Hill’s budget is in the millions and there are over 250 employees. It is a big job and a great responsibility. It is a great honor to serve on the Rock Hill Board of Education.
How well would you say that school officials in your district have handled the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years? I applaud the current board of education, administrators, and staff. Keep in mind, this was and is a disease that caught the world by complete surprise. I’m not going to criticize anyone in this decision-making process. It was trial and error on the go.
Are you in favor of mask mandates for students and staff? I’m not in favor of a school district that mandates masks. I believe this is a parental decision. Studies are mixed on this topic.

Kimberly Prince Clark

Age: 37

Office Sought: Rock Hill School Board

Professional Background: I have two masters degrees. One in business administration and the other in business organizational development and change management. I worked for 15 years in the administrative office for a McDonald’s owner operator, until this year, when I took a position with Petland’s Corporate office.

Occupation: Payroll and benefits manager for Petland Inc.

Civic Involvement: I have never held an office or attempted to hold an office before now. However, my husband and I have been involved in the school activities for our kids. We both have volunteered to coach sports, worked concession stands and serve on boards/ boosters for those sports. In fact, you’ll find me working the concession stand at all Rock Hill games for the rest of the season.

What makes you the best candidate for the job?  I believe in balanced education. I think that we have to look at all aspects of student life for a child to succeed in the real world.  I have three kids who are special and unique. I have a son who plays basketball, plans to run track, wants to be a teacher, and he’ll probably go into the military first (branch pending). I have another son who is a trombone player in the band and will probably play basketball as well. He wants to go to The University of Kentucky and major in biology/chemistry. He wants to work for the CDC and try to save people’s lives by finding cures and vaccines for ailments. I have a daughter with an IEP because she was ill when she was little. I had to fight for her to get that IEP. She is a baton twirler. She is a dancer. She is on TikTok with 2,800 followers and wants to be an actress and a teacher when she grows up. I understand all types of children. I have a very well-rounded view of life. I’ve been the socially awkward girl in high school who blended into the background. I’ve been the manager at McDonald’s who got SNAP benefits and child care assistance. I have been everywhere in my life and can relate to anyone out there. Most importantly, I want to talk to you. I want to hear from you. I want to know what your concerns are, what your kids are going through and what you think needs to be done. It’s important to talk. It’s important to put stories out there and to get people to ask questions. We have a right and a responsibility to ask tough questions and get answers.

What professional accomplishments are you most proud of? I managed to get my bachelor’s degree and both master’s degrees while working full time and raising my kids. I couldn’t have done it without my husband and my support network but, I did it and I’m very happy for that.

What is your vision for education in your community? My vision is to create a balanced environment for the children and young adults in the district to prepare them for their next step, whatever that step may be. A great mentor once said to me “Kimi, you’re not raising children. You’re raising adults.” And that has always stuck with me. Let kids be kids when it’s time to be kids but, when it’s time to grow up, that doesn’t happen over night. It’s a long process. I want our kids to be ready for life outside of Rock Hill. They need to know what’s out there and what they can do with their lives, no matter the choices they make. We need to give them the tools they need to make good choices.

What do you feel are the most important responsibilities of a school board?  The decisions that we are making about our kids are most important. We need to talk about it. Let’s talk about our curriculum choices. Let’s talk about who is gonna be the new teacher in school. I want to make sure that we have the right material and the right person in every position. Let’s talk about grading scales and how to help kids who need help. It’s all important, because every choice changes the kids future in some way. Every choice changes the district in some way. So making the right choice is important.

How well would you say school officials in your district have handled the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years? I believe that, in this situation, we are all doing our best and it’s hard to understand why some choices are made without all the facts. Rock Hill was mostly in person for the 2020-2021 school year, with a percentage opting to do virtual. I think that, for Rock Hill, this was the best choice because quality Internet isn’t available to every student in the district, sohow can we ask them to learn online? I think that was a great choice for our kids.

Are you in favor of mask mandates for students and staff? In the current year, it was announced that masks weren’t required in the beginning of the year. This decision didn’t come from the board, it was directly from the superintendent. I believe most of the board supported his choice and stood behind him. However, he later changed the policy masking policy, making it mandatory for everyone. In the letter dated 8/27 to parents and staff, he stated there were over 150 in quarantine at that time and that his goal was to keep as many students in school as possible. He made them mandatory, because so many people were getting quarantined or ill that it was going to affect the educational experience. To me, this is evidence that our kids need to wear masks for their protection and the protection of others. Not only for their health but also for their education to remain intact and consistent. Quarantine isn’t optional for those who aren’t wearing a mask. Which means, if you are unmasked and have a close contact, you are getting quarantined. I think that, to protect the health and education of our children, wearing a mask is an easy thing to do.

Josh Parker

Office sought: South Point Board of Education
Professional background: Graduated from SPHS in 1997. I’ve been a coach and volunteer in the community for 25 years. I have gotten to help people battle heroin addiction since 2006 after I graduated from Collins Career Technical Center in the licensed practical nursing program.
Occupation: Director of operations, Infinity PLLC. (Barboursville, West Virginia — mental health and substance abuse treatment program)
Civic involvement: Coached several years in South Point youth and middle school sports – basketball, baseball, football, track and soccer.  Current president of the board of education of South Point Local Schools.
What makes you the best candidate for the job? I’m approachable and available to the public, as well as a good listener. Seeking re-election, I’ve had four years of experience in this position.
What professional accomplishments are you most proud of? I extend my hand to people looking up from rock bottom. I’m really proud to be part of a team that helps make a positive impact in our community, one recovery story at a time.
What is your vision for education in your community? I want to make sure students, staff and parents have access to the latest information in the ever-evolving educational process. Technology gives us the opportunity to be transparent and efficient in our communication.
What do you feel are the most important responsibilities of the school board? Govern, establish and improve policies in the school system that promote safety, education, extracurricular activities and school spirit.
How well would you say school officials in your district have handled the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years? Being the board president has been challenging during this pandemic, but we’ve faced it head on. The fear of the unknown forced us to err on the side of caution, so we utilized the Lawrence County health department for direction. Everyone in our district from the board, administration, teachers, cooks, custodians, students, bus drivers, and parents had to be part of the team effort to minimize the spread within the schools. There’s so many more staff who had a part in this collective learning experience.
Are you in favor of mask mandates for students and staff? Parents send their kids to school expecting them to come home safely at the end of the day. We will continue to look to the health department for direction on this matter. I’m in favor of keeping politics out of this decision.

Tammie L. Myers

Age: 58
Office sought: Member of the Symmes Valley Local School Board
Professional background: Retired – technology / EMIS coordinator at Symmes Valley Local Schools (32 Years).
Occupation: Retired
Civic involvement: Member of the Symmes Valley Local School Board for the past four years.
What makes you the best candidate for the job? I am committed to three things: (1) Serving our students; (2) Hiring great people; and (3) Lowering taxes. I can proudly say that I am one of the few politicians who actually lowered taxes during their tenure in office.
What professional accomplishments are you most proud of? Tackling the challenges associated with moving Symmes Valley Local School District from the paper age to the digital age during my 32 years of working closely with financial and student data.
What is your vision for education in your community? My vision is to continue doing the things that we have done for the past four years. That is, we will do everything in our power to give our students the resources to achieve the most they can, both academically and athletically. I also envision continuing the hiring of great people who are the most qualified for the respective positions. Symmes Valley has always had students who are capable of great things. With additional resources and highly qualified teachers and staff, the students are capable of great things and have the resources to do so.
What do you feel are the most important responsibilities of a school board? This is simple: the students. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the primary responsibility of a school board is to keep the schools open and ensure that the school is a safe place in which the students can achieve their very best. All of this can and should be accomplished efficiently and effectively without overtaxing the community.
How well would you say school officials in your district have handled the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years? Symmes Valley’s board, administration, teachers and staff did a great job handling the pandemic. It has been and continues to be challenging. However, we have pulled together to make sure that the school stays open and the students continue to learn and grow.
Are you in favor of mask mandates for students and staff? Generally, I am not in favor of ANY mandate by the government. Mandates are not appropriate in a free country. That said, the most important thing for schools right now is that they stay open while ensuring the safety of students, teachers and staff. If the school is open, the students continue to learn and the parents continue to be able to work. It is important to follow the guidance provided by the CDC, the state of Ohio and local health departments to ensure the safety of our students, teachers and staff and make sure that the school stays open.