EDUCATION Q & A WITH CANDIDATE WEB STOKES (ASHLAND DISTRICT)

Friends of Hanover Schools,

Thank you for taking the time to put together your candidate questionnaire.  I think that you have assembled some great questions.  I would love to be able to provide you with answers to each of them, but I don’t believe that they can be adequately addressed without leading to more questions.  Please do not take this as a shrug, because that is not the case.  Like you I am extremely interested in those questions and even more.  I also happen to have quite a vested interest in the continued improvement of Hanover Schools (that interest goes by the names; Maren, Nolan, Trenton and Kellen).

My family is not from Hanover.  We moved to the area several years ago and began to look at Hanover because of the schools like many other current residents of Hanover. The schools brought us here and everything else about the county made us want to stay. We have some of the best schools in Virginia, staffed by some of the best educators. That is not to say that there is not room for improvement.

I pride myself in the fact that I am a solutions oriented person.  Whether during my time in the Marines, building partnerships in the lower income neighborhood that I worked as a police officer, or now in the business world, I look for solutions.  As I have matured over the years I have found that I do not know everything (which came as quite a shock to my 20 year old self).  I learned that finding solutions and improving things requires a team.  It requires participation from all of the stakeholders.  If one person tells you that they have the answers, you should probably run.

I made a decision to run for this position because I didn’t feel that the representation in my district was adequately engaging those stakeholders.  I could complain about it, but I have to live up to what I tell my children, “don’t tell me, show me.”  I am not here to talk, I am here to listen to and work for the people of the Ashland district.  It would be easy to read all of your blog posts and answer your questions in a way that would make you feel good about me, but I’m not going to do that.  That is not why I’m here.  That is not why I am sacrificing time with my bride and children.

What I plan to do is listen to the people.  I plan to involve the people in the process and look for better ways of doing things.  Our schools are amazing, I don’t want to just keep them that way, I want them to get better.  In order to do that, I don’t need a questionnaire, I need people like you to sit down with me and tell me your thoughts.  I need to hear your ideas and for us to look at real solutions.  Everything has a cost and people need to understand that and be willing to accept whatever cost there is for what they want done. Perhaps we can accomplish many things without direct cost, or obtain a better return on the investments that we currently make.

I apologize for not filling out the survey.  Please do not see it as me ignoring your concerns because it is far from that.  I am more than happy to sit down and engage in a dialogue where we can discuss what we can actually do to improve our already wonderful schools.

Thank you and I look forward to working with you to continue to improve our schools.

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