2017 Italy ISD School Board Candidate Questionnaire: Tessa South

Image: Tessa South with her husband Mike South and children Evie, Catie, Mikey and Frankie

Tessa South with her husband Mike South and children Evie, Catie, Mikey and Frankie

1) Tell a little bit about yourself (current work, education, experience, background).

I have been a stay at home mom for 16 years now. I graduated in 1999 from Italy High School. I am currently on the Board of Trustees for Italy ISD.

2) What ties do you have to the Italy school district (i.e. children enrolled, family employed, former student)?

I have four children enrolled in Italy ISD. One at Stafford, and three at Italy High School. I myself am a former Gladiator.

3) Why are you seeking a seat on the school board?

I want to be honest, I feel defeated sometimes. I have had the honor of serving with these wonderful people who give their time, efforts, and heart to this district. We all have opinions, but at the end of the day you always hope for the best outcomes. We all want what’s best for the district and our children, that’s why I am seeking reelection.

4) What qualifications or experience do you possess that voters should consider?

I have been on the board for 3 years now, I have learned so much through the hours of training that this position demands. I have fought hard for teachers and administration, even though I have felt defeated many times. I still show up, and I will always keep fighting. I can’t make promises that everything will have a successful conclusion, but I will always speak with honest thought and speech.

5) What do you consider your primary responsibility as a school board member?

Plain and simple…..the kids. To ensure the right people are in place to keep our children safe, educated, and disciplined.

6) What do you consider the most important issue facing our school district today?

Wanting a one size fits all solution. It doesn’t work, it never has, and the fact the we haven’t evolved from such thinking is what will keep us behind.

7) What do you consider the most positive and negative aspect of being a member of the school board?

The positive…..being able to stand up for our kids and educators.

The Negative…..fighting agendas.

8) What do you think should be the top priorities of the school board after this election?

Finding the right principal for Stafford, I feel like we had the right person, but as a member of the board I must stand by the position of the majority. Maybe there will be one good fit for everybody, but never has there been a one size fits all solution.

9) Are there any policy changes you would seek to implement at the school district? If yes, which ones and why?

Not at this moment.

10) What community services have you given the school district or community in the past?

I do need to volunteer more, but as with anyone else, life happens and responsibilities take the front burner.

11) Explain your position on hiring non-certified teachers.

I don’t think we should hire non-certified teachers. I believe that in order for our kids to do well on STAAR and EOCs, we must get the best qualified teacher. Even if it isn’t a testing year for some, the children still need to learn from a qualified teacher.

12) How would you maintain a healthy balance between education and athletics?

I believe that if you work hard, you play hard. Our children are not only a reflection of us, they also represent us, either it be a educational, sport, or band competition.

13) Title IX laws pertain to all state funded districts. How do you feel the Italy ISD performs in this area?

There is definitely room for improvement, but I do believe we do perform well in this arena.

14) What ideas or changes would you like to see to continue to improve school discipline?

I would like to see an age appropriate district plan for discipline in place for each campus. It needs to be put together by the principals, and then they need to ensure that it evolves with each incident. The only way we get better is by learning from our mistakes. This includes students, parents, teachers, and the principal.

15) What ideas do you have to keep the budget trim?

I believe we have good people in place watching over the district budget. Obviously, we have a lot of wants, but I have seen this administration be very responsible with the budget. We obviously need town growth, it would alleviate anyone that feels a burden on their bank book due to taxes. It would be great for the school if the city could possibly one day be a source of positivity rather than negativity.

16) What positive changes within the infrastructure of our schools might be made to retain and/or attract quality teachers to educate our children?

Right now our facilities are being upgraded, and it’s an upgrade, especially for Stafford, that is long overdue. My hope is that one day we will be able to add new classes, and extracurriculars that will gear all of our children’s education to a job that they love.

17) In what ways can the district’s school board be more open to listen to teachers and parents about their concerns?

I believe it takes a collaborative relationship between ourselves and the community in order for our district to be successful. That means reaching out to us by email, letter, stopping us at a football game, school meetings (booster clubs, PTO, school board (every month)).

18) What incentives, if any, do you think should be implemented to motivate students to improve their performance in the classroom?

I think incentives for the younger grades are great, but I believe by the time they get into high school they should know what’s expected of them. They have incentives, i.e.: extracurricular actives.