Linda Armistead and Sam Green challenged incumbent Wilson County Board of Education member Ron Britt for the Zone 4 seat in the Aug. 7 election.
Britt moved to west Wilson County in 1976 when he founded, owned and operated a small, startup business in Nashville. He has since retired. Following college, Britt served in the Army and is a Vietnam War veteran. He also previously worked eight years in national marketing with Mobil Oil Corp. for eight years while living in six states.
Britt has been married to his wife, Judy Britt, for 49 years. The couple has two adult children, Heather and Stephan, both of whom are Mt. Juliet High School and Middle Tennessee college graduates.
Armistead worked in the Wilson County School system for 38 years and started teaching English at Mt. Juliet High School in 1973. In 2001, she helped organize and administer a Department of Labor and Workforce grant called YouthLinks for Wilson County Schools until her retirement in 2012. Throughout the classroom years, she led and sponsored several school clubs and organizations, such as the Drama Club, Future Teachers of America, the cheerleading squad, Students Taking a Right Stand, forensics and debate teams, as well as coaching tennis.
Armistead completed her bachelor of science degree at Middle Tennessee State University, majoring in English and education. She has taken classes in counseling at Tennessee State University, completed her global career development facilitator certification, service learning and work-based credentialing, and personal financial education teacher training. She earned career level I and highly qualified teacher status.
She has been involved in community projects for Habitat for Humanity, the Wilson County Community Help Center and Empower Me Day Camp. She is current president and past treasurer of Wilson ONE. She has served on both the Mt. Juliet chamber and Lebanon-Wilson County chamber’s education committees, receiving the honor of “Educator of the Year” in 2003 from the Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce and has worked with the teacher grant committee and the Tennessee Scholars program. She has served on the board for Prospect, Inc. and Wilson County Community Partnership.
Armistead is married to Steve Armistead, and they have lived in Mt. Juliet since 1978. They have been married for 46 years and have two children, Stephanie McDonald and Chadwick Armistead, and six grandchildren. McDonald graduated from Mt. Juliet High School and MTSU, has three children and previously taught math at West Wilson Middle School. She and her husband, Michael, currently live in Monroe, N.Y. Chad Armistead graduated from Mt. Juliet and MTSU, served in the Marine Corps and is director of operations at the Hutton in Nashville. He and his wife, Cathryn, have three children and live in Gladeville.
Green, who has 27 years of experience in public and private education, is professor of music at Trevecca Nazarene University in the role of director of the praise and worship certificate program and director of the center for worship arts. He also works as an adjunct professor and doctoral adviser in the Trevecca School of Education’s doctoral degree program.
Green is also a minister, serving 28 years as a worship pastor and for the last 9 ½ years at Hermitage Church of the Nazarene. He is also an ordained deacon.
Green is a former middle and high school teacher in Nashville Metropolitan Schools.
He holds a doctorate of education in administration and supervision from Tennessee State University.
He is married to Keli Green, and the couple has three daughters, Anna-Laura, Sophia and Isabella.
What prompted you to seek office? Was it a personal initiative or did others encourage you?
Britt: I was originally approached and encouraged to seek the office of school board member. However, having sold my business that required 12-hour days, six days per week for 25 years, I now have adequate time to devote to an area about which I care deeply – public education and how it can and should grow every child into a contributing member of our community and society.
Armistead: My life’s work has been dedicated to the education of young people in Wilson County for the past 38 years, and several people have asked me to consider running for the school board. Through much prayer and discussion with family and friends, my husband, Steve, and I reflected on the challenge and decided it was important to commit my experience by seeking this position.
Green: I have been an educator since 1987 and for the last 10 years I have desired to serve on the school board. This is the right season of my life and the life of our family for me to run for the position. I have received complete affirmation from family, friends and colleagues for my decision to run for the school board. I believe this is the season of my life to give back to the county that has been instrumental in helping shape the lives of my daughters. I am a leukemia survivor and as I have reprioritized how I want to spend the rest of my life, I see that serving on the school board is a way I can speak into the future health of our county’s public schools.
What are the most important issues in your race, and how do you plan to address them?
Britt: The most important issue in this race is the need to effectively implement the board’s initiative to reach the top 5 percent of achievement in the state of Tennessee within five years and the top 5 percent of the nation in 10 years. Now that we have selected a new director, who wholeheartedly concurs and supports these goals, we can begin that effort in earnest and move to the next level, well beyond being content to simply meet or exceed state averages.
Armistead: As growth in our county continues, the school board must be actively involved in effective planning and oversight to meet the educational needs of students. We must maintain our excellent schools and support the teachers and programs that have drawn new families and businesses to our county. Funding sources and budgets from the county commission must reflect a goal to sustain this growth. The school board and county commission must work together to align both future and immediate needs. Curriculum changes and integrating new technology appropriately require the best practices for implementation. Professional development for teachers is essential.
Green: Wilson County is a growing, thriving county where many families desire to move and make their home. Expectations are high for a quality public school system. With my years of experience in education, my expertise will help our county achieve the expectations of the community.
What would you say to voters opposed to your running for office to convince them you are the most qualified?
Britt: While in office, I have been a robust supporter of the educational process, both for college-bound students and those who choose other paths after graduating high school. Our sole objective is to educate all of our students, and I have tried to put forth ideas to make things better and will always support others’ ideas that will have a positive impact on that goal. I do not play politics; our children’s educational lives deserve better.
Armistead: As a licensed educator having taught 27 years in Wilson County, I understand the academic, developmental and social needs of students. I received extensive training through the Department of Labor and Workforce Development while implementing the grant program called YouthLinks in our school system for 11 years. Active involvement in volunteer and civic organizations in our county, such as Leadership Wilson and Wilson ONE, has allowed me to develop an understanding of how the community works. My participation on two boards, Prospect, Inc. and Wilson County Community Partnership, has also afforded me fiscal experience with budgets and allocating money.
Green: I am not aware of any voters opposed to me running for the school board. My professional career in education and the success I have experienced validates why I am a strong candidate. I am confident that I will represent the community’s needs for our public schools.
What do you bring to the table that your opponents do not?
Britt: I have been a business owner for 25-plus years and employed many people during that time and was responsible for making a payroll every week. I know what is needed for our students to be successful in the work environment, because I hired many people and saw the deficiencies in skills that some possessed. I also understand the financial aspects of running a business: controlling unnecessary costs and using scrutiny in spending tax dollars, just as you would in spending your own dollars. This same sense of fiscal responsibility is necessary for the schools’ budget.
Armistead: I am the only candidate who has actually been involved with the Wilson County school system in both the classroom and working as an administrator before retiring in 2012. The workforce investment grant required working with students and teachers in all four high schools, the GED program and Adult High School. I am the only candidate who has personal experience and knowledge of the academic, sports and extra-curricular programs and has served on the Disciplinary Hearing Committee. I understand firsthand as a parent, grandparent and teacher the dress code issues.
Green: I bring education experience in middle school, high school, college and doctoral teaching. One of my roles is to teach professionals who are preparing to become leaders in educational administration.
How is your experience—or lack of experience—a plus or minus for the position you are seeking?
Britt: As referenced above, my experience is a definite plus because of the responsibility that is involved with owning a business and being responsible for the well being of many people, all while teaching and training them to be better employees so the company could remain in business. My time on the school board has definitely given me the knowledge of board policy and state law to better prepare me to make decisions on the things that will make the learning experience even better for our students and challenge for the distinction of “top 5 percent in the nation.”
Armistead: My experience working in the school system both as a classroom teacher and administrator is an advantage that will help create trust and confidence for those affected by school board decisions. My experience as a previous board member with two non-profits allows me to understand the importance of governing. My experience as a mother of two former graduates from our system and a grandmother of two currently attending elementary school is a plus that will keep me focused on the purpose of advocating for and supporting excellence for all our children.
Green: In public education, I consider my experience to be only a plus for the position I am seeking as a member of the school board. My experience in serving on a president’s cabinet and helping establish policies for a university is similar to that of the school board. The school board hires a director and helps establish policies for the county’s schools, teachers and students.