Meet the Candidates: School Board District Two

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Editor’s Note: Candidates were sent a questionnaire via email.

 

JONAE TASSIN ALEXANDER

Jonae Tassin Alexander

Date of Birth: August 8, 1968

Profession/current employer/ retired: I am a retired educator (St. John Parish Schools), the owner of Serendipiteez (Creative Design), and co-owner of Perfect Finish Concrete.

Why did you choose to run for school board? The phrase that best describes why I am running for St. John School Board: “More than 4,000 kids”. Reflecting on my 23-year career, I think I have shown a genuine dedication to the education of all kids. While I am the grandparent to one of the district scholars, my decisions have always focused on what is best for the school district.  I have also demonstrated the ability to lead by making difficult educational or instructional decisions for every student. I am deeply committed to ensuring that all of our children have the best possible start in life, and I believe that starts with a competitive education. I hope to continue to serve and advocate for the stakeholders of St. John Parish schools. I will be the voice we deserve.

What is our public school district’s No. 1 challenge? I believe the number one challenge in our school district is parental involvement. I will continue to advocate for better parental support throughout the system. We know that children can achieve outstanding goals with their family’s consistent support.

What is our public school district’s No. 1 asset? The number one asset our school district has is our educators. Our teachers are resilient, well trained, and hard working. They are a critical asset to greater student learning and achievement. That is why greater teacher retention is imperative to the success of St. John Parish Schools.

What would you like to see improved or upgraded with our public school district? I would like to see an improvement in school funding for both teachers and students. I would also like to see more programs that will bridge the gap between schools and our communities.

What qualities would you like to see in a new superintendent? I would like to see a highly knowledgeable superintendent with regards to the instructional needs of this district. I would like them to execute a clear and progressive vision for the school system. I would like them to be committed to all of our students and to have ambitious expectations of all employees.

How do you plan to make a difference?

I plan to make a difference by:

  • Visiting schools and using my experience to analyze and assess the needs on each campus.
  • I will work diligently to make sure that every decision and action will reflect the needs and interest of all students.
  • I will make sure to bring my elementary, middle, and high school special education experience to make complex decisions for educational excellence in St. John schools. I will continue to respect, value, and encourage the involvement of St. John’s parents, students, and community.

 

 

ALBERT A. BURL III – INCUMBENT

Albert “Ali” Burl

Date of Birth: 09/27/1976

Profession/current employer/ retired: Current Director of the 40th Judicial Adult Drug Court for St. John the Baptist Parish, Licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer

Why did you choose to run for school board? Currently as the Chairman of the Land & Facilities Committee, I communicated to the Board Progress on Projects and losses from Hurricane Isaac, and want to ensure that similar communication due to Hurricane Ida.

What is our public school district’s No. 1 challenge? Public Communication and Transparency.

What is our public school district’s No. 1 asset? Knowledgeable administrators of the District and the Community.

What would you like to see improved or upgraded with our public school district? One Concern of the Public Now is School Safety. I would like to improve Security around our Schools and make all schools have a single Point of Entry. Use of Technology.

What qualities would you like to see in a new superintendent? A Visionary, Honest, Innovative Leader who Values Transparency.

How do you plan to make a difference? Continue to Hold Everyone Accountable.

 

GREG “COACH” GATHERS SR.

Date of Birth: August 26, 1981

Profession/current employer/ retired: Educator, Assistant Football Coach, Head Power Lifting Coach, Head Track Coach at Donaldsonville High School.  Realtor at EXP Realty.

Why did you choose to run for school board? You hear a lot of negative things about our school system.  Instead of complaining about it, I want to be the part of the solution.  I attended and graduated from public school in this parish and now have a child attending as well. I also taught here for six years. With over 19 years of experience in education, Bachelor’s in Business Management, a Masters in Educational Leadership and currently working on my Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership, I believe I can bring fresh new ideas and expertise as a school board member.

What is our public-school district’s No. 1 challenge? Consistent leadership.  It’s no secret in the last 5 year we are searching for our third Superintendent. It takes 4 years to see a change in a school system once a Superintendent takes over.  Therefore, it is important that we hire a Superintendent that is invested into our community and willing to see their plan of change all the way through.

What is our public school district’s No. 1 asset? Our Community Stakeholders and Teachers.  I can attest to the resiliency our community has because I saw it first hand as a teacher/coach at East St. John during Katrina and Issac. The togetherness and support for one another was like nothing I’ve seen before. That lets me know there is power in numbers. When it comes to our teachers they are on the frontline.  They are the ones spending countless hours with our students to surpass goals whether it is in the classroom or in an extracurricular activity. They are the most important factor in growing student learning and achievement.

What would you like to see improved or upgraded with our public school district? I would like to see a system in place where St. John Parish becomes a breeding ground for leadership.  Having worked in two of the top three school systems in the state, I can tell you that they promote from within when it comes to leadership. By doing this, it will eliminate hiring people that may look at our parish as stepping ground to future opportunities.

What qualities would you like to see in a new superintendent? A Superintendent that is a visionary, innovative, and believes in transparency as an instructional leader. One that’s also financially intelligent. Lastly, we need a superintendent that will make decisions that is in the best interest of our students.

How do you plan to make a difference? I plan on making a difference by being an advocate for teachers, parents, and students. As an educator I know what teachers and school administrators go through on a daily basis. But my job is not to tell them how to teach or run their schools. It’s to support them. One of the reasons why teachers leave the profession is because of lack of support. I want them to know that they do have a listening ear that will back them. When it comes to parents, they are my constituents. They are the ones that know what’s going on in the community. I plan on making myself available at some PTO meetings as well as having an open-door policy with my constituents. This will go a long way in being pro-active to the concerns of the community. Lastly, I want to make sure our students are receiving the best education possible.  My vision for our students is that when they leave our school system they have options. Whether going to trade school or a attending a four year college, we want to make sure that they are equipped with the tools to be successful in this world so they can be an asset to the community.