Aldermen interview five NASD applicants

Published 12:04 am Saturday, April 25, 2015

NATCHEZ — The Natchez Board of Aldermen interviewed five Natchez-Adams School Board applicants Thursday in the City Council Chambers.

Bryant Herbert, Carrie Ford, Dwight Greene, Amos James Jr. and Dora Prater Hawkins answered questions from board members and detailed their vision for the school board and district.

One of the five applicants will replace David Troutman who chose not to seek reappointment after his term ended in February.

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The school board is comprised of five members — three appointed by the aldermen and two appointed by the Adams County Board of Supervisors.

Bryant Herbert

Bryant Herbert, pastor of Natchez Triumphant Church, said his number one passion is helping young individuals succeed and become better citizens.

“When the opportunity opened itself up, I accepted,” he said. “I believe that this district can be one of the best districts in the state.”

A former administrator and teacher, Herbert said he thinks reading is essential.

“If you have the foundation of reading at an early age, that foundation will follow them their whole life,” Herbert said. “Education is not something that should be given, it’s the right to every child.”

Herbert said the school board should be the people who are the gas pedal for the school district.

“We are not pushing it, but we are there to make sure everything is running smoothly,” he said.

If appointed, Herbert said his goal will be to follow the superintendent’s vision.

“The school board is a support system,” he said. “Everything has to be in place. But I truly believe the school board has to be in support of the superintendent.”

Carrie Ford

Carrie Ford, Alcorn State University School of AREAS chair, Department of Human Sciences and Assistant Professor of Child Development, serves on various early childhood educational boards that promote the best interest of children and families.

Ford earned a Ph.D. in education from Jackson State University in 2008 and a master of science in early childhood education from Jackson State University in 2004.

Ford said she is effective with family and children, which are great assets a board member must have.

“I’ve been in education for 20 plus years,” Ford said. “I believe what I’m effective in is what I’m passionate about. I’m effective in education, I’m effective with child development and I’m effective with early childhood education.”

Ford said she thinks there is a link between teachers and student achievement.

“Going into a classroom with our children — you have to set high expectations with them,” Ford said. “At the end of the day, it’s about students learning.”

Ford hopes to enhance parental involvement within the school district.

Dwight Greene

Dwight Greene serves as the senior minister of the Fourth Street Church of Christ.

He has also served as district manger for Southland Corporation in Dallas and director of sales and heritage tourism at the Natchez Visitors and Reception Center.

Greene’s philosophy in life is to give back to those who helped him throughout his journey.

“I believe that by coming here and trying to serve on the board, we can address some of the areas I think that’s really needed to get not just the school system, but Natchez as a whole on a better playing field,” Greene said.

With the right people in place and the right system, we can do that again, Greene said.

If appointed, Greene said he would provide ideas with the board to keep students involved in school.

There is a critical area in the early stages of child development, Greene said.

“The closest we can get to starting them out on a good level, the better chance you will have for them to be able to really excel,” he said.

Amos James Jr.

Amos James Jr., a retired U.S. Army veteran, hopes to take his passion for the school district to new heights.

“If elected to be on the board, I’m willing to be in the school system — up and down the halls talking and shaking hands to find out what their needs are,” James said.

James is the current chief administrator of Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church. He served in the U.S. Army from 1987 to 1998.

James plans to use his extensive military career to help turn around troubled children in the school district and assist parents who have a complaint.

“In the military, we had a chain of command,” he said. “The first thing I would do is to tell that parent to get in contact with the principal, and if she’s not satisfied she can always go to the superintendent. If she’s not satisfied there she has to come to the board. But you don’t just leave it there. You still have to follow up on it.”

Dora Prater Hawkins

Dora Prater Hawkins, retired district manager of social security, said she is delighted to do what she can for the school district.

“My primary interest as a stakeholder in Adams County and the City of Natchez is education,” Hawkins said. “I think that we need to prepare students for the globe. We have to be prepared to be globally educated.”

Hawkins said engaging students and teaching the curriculum will help students go venture beyond Natchez by not limiting teachers from out-of-town to join the Natchez-Adams School District.

“You can bring the best teachers with the best exposure,” she said.

With aspirations of getting the Natchez-Adams School District where it was in the past, Hawkins said the community must place the blame where it lies.

“Number one is the home,” she said. “Number two, it’s the actual school system itself and number three, there have been so many changes.”

All board members attended the interviews except Alderman Tony Fields, who works for the school district as principal of Frazier Elementary School.

Mayor Butch Brown did not attend the interviews.

Alderman Rickey Gray said the board will make a decision as soon as possible on who will replace Troutman.