Prairie Home voters will select two new school board members from a pool of four candidates in the upcoming April 6 municipal election.
The Democrat spoke with each candidate about their backgrounds and issues that are important to them ahead of April.
Name: Sandra Waibel
Years living in district: 11 years
Education: BS in ag business and marketing
Occupation: Loan specialist
Family: Husband, Shain, two children, Logan and Kinzie
Leadership experience: Currently the FSA guaranteed loan specialist for Missouri
Why are you running for school board? I am running for school board because these children need us to be their advocates in obtaining the best possible education available to them.
Why is public education important? Education is not only important to myself and my family but the entire community. These children are our future educators, farmers, mechanics and bankers.
What skills or knowledge do you possess that could benefit the district? I know the budget is a big contributor for the school, and I am very comfortable working with large budgets and financial information. This is something I do on a daily basis for my job.
What issues are most important to you? Making sure that all sides are heard and the best possible decisions are made for our children's future.
What else should voters know about you before they go to the polls? I am an honest and trustworthy person.
Name: Jamie Lynn Wallingford
Years living in district: I have previously lived in the Prairie Home School district from 1995-2001 and returned in 2003 until now.
Education: I am a 2001 graduate of Prairie Home R-5 and attended State Fair Community College.
Occupation: I have been in the financial industry since 2005. I am currently an assistant market business manager with First State Community Bank in Boonville.
Family: I am the daughter of David Wallingford and the late Donna Wallingford, of Jamestown. My daughter, Madison, is a member of the graduating class of 2021 at Prairie Home and my son, Paxton, is currently in the third grade there.
Leadership experience: During my years in the financial industry, I have held several different leadership roles, such as bank officer, security and retail operations specialist, and management which has allowed me to build teams to deepen relationships within our surrounding communities. My priority has been to develop a plan of action for our customers to provide them financial peace of mind whether that be for building wealth, planning for their future or their family members, providing knowledge to protect their identity in this ever-growing identity theft world. I have also had the pleasure of leading teams within the banking world to develop strategic plans to assure the proper execution of policy and procedures for bank security. Outside of work, I have led teams in local Relay for Life events, led fundraising efforts for Central Missouri Honor Flight, donated time for United Way, and just recently joined the local board as Vice President for the Prairie Home Recreational Youth Basketball League.
Why are you running for school board? I am running for school board because I am looking to be a voice for our community. As an individual that has been a part of this community for more than 20 years, I want to make sure our students continue to grow and have the same opportunities in our small town as those in larger districts. We need to keep their needs as our top priority and though everyone has different ideas on what that looks like, I want to be part of that team that develops the plan to make that happen. When you have the ability to hear everyone's great ideas, you can then begin to develop a platform that takes the best of all ideas and execute them on a higher level. This assures our students and faculty that their community is behind them 100 percent. When you know you are fully supported, you perform at a higher level and in the end everyone benefits as an outcome.
Why is public education important? Public education is important to me because we are preparing the next generation to be the best that they can be when they go out in the world. K-12 is a speck of time in the grand scheme of everything, but these are vital years to build strength and confidence in our youth and it is our job as society, to assure they have the tools needed to succeed down the road. Obviously yes, the education foundation is important, but it is also about developing a sense of self and finding your voice. There are so many life lessons for one to have. This is where our youth develops the skills to be a team player whether that be in a classroom setting or one of the many extracurricular activities that is offered. To develop the skills to work harder and know that you are only as good as the effort you put into it. Here is where they learn that life owes you nothing; in order to get what you want you have to work for it and if you don't there will always be others in line willing to do so. It is our responsibility to challenge our youth because if we don't then what are we really doing? Our public education system spends more face time with our children than our own families do so why wouldn't we want to provide them with all the tools possible?
What skills or knowledge do you possess that could benefit the district? Not only have I developed listening skills to deepen and uncover the needs of those around me but being in the financial world, I have a high understanding of making the most out of a dollar and making my finances work for me instead of against me. As the times change so do the needs of our school system, whether that be within the curriculum, staffing needs, supplies and building maintenance. It is our job as the board to accomplish the most within our means. Personally, I am an outside-the-box thinker and I am not afraid to get my hands dirty to get the job done.
What issues are most important to you? The issue that is most important to me is making sure we change with the times and assuring everyone is open-minded and adaptable to make sure we are working to support our students. As a school board, we need to make sure we supply each faculty member with the support to educate each student as an individual because everyone learns differently, which means we have to be creative with the ways we convey the information to them. It is also our job as the board to make sure we have a staff that wants to make a difference in our children's lives. We need to invest in our teachers so they invest in our students. We are growing as a community because individuals are realizing urban areas are overcrowded and this affects the level of teaching that comes out of there. We have the unique ability to educate in a smaller atmosphere that provides one-to-one support and in order to maintain that contact we have to continue to grow as well. Without a growing school system and a focus on education improvement, we as a small town will find that families will move away and find what they are looking for elsewhere. If we are lucky enough, we could spark the love of education in our students and they may come back to invest in the next generation assuring we keep our small town alive.
What else should voters know about you before they go to the polls? As a St. Louis native growing up, I have firsthand experience of what an overcrowded public education system looks like. A school system that crammed a minimum of 30 children to a classroom and an overworked underpaid teacher to lead us. When I was a child, I thought that was just the way it was because I had never seen anything different but because of the overcrowding and increased violence of our growing neighborhood, my parents made a choice to remove us from that lifestyle and honestly provide myself and my siblings with a chance at a real childhood. I think growing up in a small town, people tend to overlook how lucky we truly are to live in a community where everyone knows your name and family and how everyone looks out for one another. You aren't just another face, you are part of a community, and in our community, we know our little public school is what keeps us alive and ticking. There is not one person running for the board that wouldn't help make an impact in the lives of our children, I personally would just like to be given the opportunity to help give back to a town and a school that personally helped shape the person that I am today. Prairie Home is a school that invested in me, and now, I want to invest in them.
Name: Adam Scott
Years living in district: 34 years
Education: High school graduate of Prairie Home. Attended college at Linn State Technical College for industrial electricity.
Occupation: Electrical contractor
Family: Married for 14 years and has four children.
Leadership experience: I own and operate an electrical contracting company with several employees who depend on me daily. Whether it is finding our next project, working in the office, helping to teach our apprentices, or working side by side I am always in a leadership role. I was also a foreman for Great Southwestern Construction, leading crews of up to 25 employees at times. We would perform work in high voltage substations up to 345,000 volts. It was my responsibility to complete the projects quickly, efficiently, within budget, but more importantly to keep everyone safe and make sure they went home to their families.
Why are you running for school board? I want to do my part to help serve the community, as well as help protect the best interests of our children and the school district. I would love to see our school district grow and continue to thrive for many years to come.
Why is public education important? It gives all children an equal opportunity to learn and a chance to obtain a good education. As well as an opportunity to interact with other students and the community.
What skills or knowledge do you possess that could benefit the district? I have a construction-based background. So, I have knowledge when it comes to maintenance and construction that could possibly be useful. I also have experience in owning and running a business. This includes hiring, firing, payroll, scheduling, budgeting and invoicing. I also bid on multiple projects, and write and sign contracts daily. I am responsible for meeting deadlines and for the quality of our work, which means accountability, something everyone should be held to. I am also responsible for keeping financial records and bookkeeping. I have also worked as a foreman running crews of more than 25 men on projects with impossible deadlines. I understand stress and the importance of staying focused and completing a task even when it seems impossible.
What issues are most important to you? Education is my number one priority. I would love for Prairie Home School to be able to offer its students an opportunity at a premium education that has all of our students fully prepared to attend a four-year college or join the work force when they graduate. I want all of our students to have a future, and be given every tool they need to reach that goal. I feel like it is one of the biggest challenges of your smaller school districts. There are limitations because of budget, equipment or space. But if we aren't giving the students all the tools they need to be successful then I feel like we are the ones to blame and we have failed them.
What else should voters know about you before they go to the polls? If elected, I will do what I feel is right for our children and our community. My children will be the fourth generation of our family to attend and graduate from Prairie Home school, and I hope it doesn't end there. I will always be willing to listen and speak to concerned parents, students and teachers. I am also not afraid to go against the grain if that is what it takes to get things done. Sometimes the easy way isn't always the best or the right way.
Name: Sheila Brown
Years living in district: 17
Education: Associate of arts from MACC, certified billing and coding specialist (CBCS) and certified medical administrative assistant (CMAA), both through National Healthcare Association
Occupation: Dental office assistant
Family: Husband, Jason, children, Madison, Cooper, Miley and Thomas
Leadership experience: Boards I have served on — Prairie Home PTO, Prairie Home Summer Ball Association; Boards currently serving on — Prairie Home Recreational Basketball board; Started our local Clover Kids and led it for a couple of years; Brought Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University class to the Prairie Home United Methodist Church and led some classes for a couple of years.
Why are you running for school board? I want to help be a part of the change and growth of our school. I have four children attending Prairie Home R-5; therefore, I have a vested interest in the success and welfare of our school. What better way to give back our community than by helping to serve our students, parents and staff?
Why is public education important? It provides everyone an opportunity for an education and it is accessible for all. Your school is only as strong as your community, and I feel we live in a mighty town that is always in support of our kid's education.
What skills or knowledge do you possess that could benefit the district? My oldest child is in high school and has participated in the Prairie Home/Bunceton Co-op. We have first-hand experience of what positive changes have done for our school. I feel I bring a good sense of budgeting and prioritizing to the table after being a stay-at-home mom for more than 14 years. I know the importance of needing versus just wanting thanks to the knowledge I attained in Dave Ramsey's FPU class.
What issues are most important to you? Athletic co-op with Bunceton, COVID-19 rules and regulations, communication with our parents and community and educational opportunities for our students.
What else should voters know about you before they go to the polls? I am not afraid of change and I value tradition, but I truly believe you cannot move forward without mixing the two. I am passionate about my views but I am always open to new knowledge, opinions and concerns. I not only want the best opportunity for growth, education and experiences for my children but for everyone else's kids as well. I don't shy away from hard work or conflict and I don't give up. I am ready for a new challenge with the chance to grow and learn.