PENDLETON — Regardless of who among Angela Brown, Jeanne Fredericks or Tom Lee Jewell wins in South Madison, one will become the new school board member to fill the at-large seat vacated by Amy McGinnis.
And that member will have a fresh start working with newly appointed Superintendent Mark Hall.
What each of the candidates has in common is an extensive background in education.
Brown, 52, taught middle school English/language arts before switching to math. She believes her education experience in tiny North Putnam Community Schools in Bainbridge and in larger Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township in Indianapolis will benefit the community as it goes through growing pains.
Brown’s concern for the future of the district mimics that of the city leaders who for the past couple of years have stressed that Pendleton is next in line to become a suburb of Indianapolis, which will put pressure on the school district, whose success is likely to be a selling point for young parents.
“For our community specifically, we are getting ready to have a huge growth spurt and we are having a lot of housing development coming in,” she said. “If you don’t plan for that growth, you can have some unintended consequences.”
As a former teacher, Brown, whose son is a senior at Pendleton Heights High School, said she also is sympathetic to the Red for Ed movement and the call for higher teacher salaries.
“I would like to see that upper end salary that highest end that you can achieve, be higher than it is currently,” she said.
Fredericks, 70, who retired three years ago as the director of education for a construction trade association that covers Indiana and Kentucky, also has experience as curriculum director for Noblesville Schools and Hamilton Southeastern Schools in Fishers. In addition, she worked 11 years as director of school improvement in South Madison Community Schools, where her own children attended school.
Her experiences in Noblesville and Hamilton Southeastern are directly transferrable to the decisions she likely would need to make as a South Madison board member.
“They saw a lot of growth while I was there. That was always one of the issues, planning ahead and looking toward the future,” the first-time candidate said.
Fredericks said she is particularly interested in students’ achievement and in preparing students for careers, not just for attending college.
“We have a lot of kids who can have careers in other areas, like construction, like nursing, like manufacturing,” she said. “There are all kinds of on ramps for kids to look forward to.”
By and large though, Fredericks said she is prepared to tackle any issues that come before the board.
“I’ve always been taught or learned that school board members don’t come with a specific issue. They come to oversee and make sure all kids get a good education,” she said.
Jewell, 63, taught 24 years in Pendleton and moved on to become an administrator at Anderson Community Schools before retiring eight years ago.
“Education has sort of been my whole life,” he said.
The father of three Pendleton Heights graduates said he recently became interested in running for school board after talking with board member Bill Hutton.
“I always felt good about their experience, and I guess maybe in a small way, I want to continue that success and have a hand in it,” he said. “It will be a learning curve, but I’m excited about that.”
Also a first-time candidate, Jewell said he is particularly interested in building improvements and maintenance, innovation in instruction and recruitment of topnotch teachers.
“Let’s face it, that’s the skeleton of a school system,” he said.
Not interested in reinventing the wheel, Jewell said he believes there are great benefits in sharing information with other school districts and education-related organizations.
“I think there’s some benefit in corresponding with other corporations that has success with things,” he said.
Jewell said he believes a good board needs to be favorable to staff, building good, positive relationships.
“If there’s hostility there, I think that’s counterproductive,” he said.