Hurst: A unique inside perspective

Published 9:48 am Thursday, February 8, 2024

Following is a profile on one of six candidates for the Republican nomination for Davie County Board of Education. Voters will select four of the six in the March 5 primary, likely to be elected in November because no other party candidate filed.

The Candidate


Stephanie Hurst




US 64 E., Mocksville


Appalachian State University, bachelor’s in elementary education; The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, master’s degree in educational administration


Teacher, Forsyth County Schools; former teacher and assistant principal at schools in six states

Why did you decide to seek public office?

Hurst: I remember the day I realized what I wanted as a career, to be a teacher. I was in the fifth grade with a teacher who made learning fun. I knew then and there, I would some day do for others what was done for me.

I graduated from high school and headed to Boone to attend Appalachian State University to pursue a degree in elementary education, a minor in child psychology, and walked across the stage holding my first child. That was one of my proudest moments as a student and as a parent. I then graduated from The Citadel Military College of South Carolina with a master’s in educational administration,  graduating with a 4.0 average.

Over the next several years I taught in many areas of the country, six states total, and have served as a classroom teacher and an assistant principal, along with numerous volunteer positions within the school systems. Through all of the opportunities I’ve had in education, being in the classroom has been the most rewarding and where I felt I was meant to be.

When given the opportunity to move back to NC, I chose Davie County as my landing spot. Growing up in Clemmons, it seemed a perfect fit. I have raised three children, one biological and two “bonus” in Davie County Schools. All three have graduated from Davie High School, two went on to higher learning institutions and one has a career in the fire service. I have seen first hand, inside the classroom and through our children, what Davie County Schools can do for our children.

Seeing the growth of each child brings great joy and a sense of pride in my role of making a difference in a child’s life. I want to continue to make a difference in our community through education. This is why I have chosen to run for a position on the Davie County School Board. I want to help the county I live in and love.

I feel that through my classroom experience I have an opportunity to share a unique perspective that will help Davie County Schools excel. I want to be a voice for our students and our teachers. Having an inside view of the struggles within the classroom, and understanding the hardships of staff members and parents, I would be a voice on the board to find decisions that affect our children, staff and school system as a whole. I will continue to strive in making a difference, and look forward to the opportunity to use my knowledge and experience to continue improving our schools and the students and teachers the board of education serves. I hope that being on the school board gives me yet another opportunity to make a difference, this time throughout the county, not just within a single classroom. I would like your vote to help push Davie County Schools above and beyond where we’ve been, and steer us to a new horizon in education.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the school system, and how do you intend to address those challenges?

Hurst: Challenges I see from the classroom and as a staff member inside the school that I would like to give my perspective on are: class size, teacher salary/retention issues, and standardized testing.

These issues are not simple. They are, however, issues that will not get better on their own, and will only become larger if they are not addressed. These issues also do not have a short-term solution but need a long-term plan to address and a path to success for all.

As for class size, our county is growing and the classroom is getting smaller with each child that is added. We found this issue especially challenging during Covid when desks needed to be arranged to accommodate the space needed per CDC guidelines. I found myself removing almost all items within the classroom just to make room for our students’ desks. I saw first-hand how “sterile” the room look without other furniture, desks, bookshelves and other items that made a classroom a pleasant place to be. Our students learn best in a comfortable classroom. It allows for students to relax, and feel at home. Our children spend more than 5 hours in a classroom. These hours are, in many cases, the only hours they are not buried in a phone or running from activity to activity.

It is my experience the time they are in a classroom in some cases are the only time they are truly aware of their surroundings. It should be a priority to make sure the surroundings they are in are conducive to creativity. They need space, and room to grow as not only a student, but as a person. Class size is also an issue as an educator, as when teachers have too many students it takes away from one on one time available for a student who needs a little extra help, or one who needs to be challenged a little more. I would like to see teachers have the freedom to treat each student individually but when there are so few teachers for the amount of students, it creates a challenge.

This leads to my second point of teacher salaries and retention. As everyone knows, there is a teacher shortage. This issue is statewide and not just happening within our county. It is one of my goals to help come up with a plan to make the Davie the place to teach. I’d like to see our county as one of the top choices in our area of the state to be a teacher.

Creatively I believe we have the resources and community support to help make us somewhere teachers want to come and work and where our residents choose to teach. Salaries are one part of what can help with this issue.

Retention needs to be addressed as well. In Davie County, we need to find ways to keep our staff inside our schools for as long as possible.. We can do this by finding ways to support our teachers, staff and administrators. I believe we can do this through creative ways within our county, and also by finding ways to acknowledge their commitments to our students and showing our appreciation. We can all agree that our teachers are not “in it for the money,” so I’d like to help create an atmosphere of  appreciation and loyalty.

Standardized testing is probably one of the more challenging issues to be addressed. It is a nec3ssary evil and one that may never go away. However, I think there are ways to life the weight testing puts on our children and our staff. I would like to dig deeper into this issue and see what, if any, of these tests can be eliminated from our schools. In 25 years of teaching I have read numerous studies that show that testing is not the best barometer in measuring a child’s abilities or strengths. We all know someone who wasn’t the greatest student, but has become successful as an adult.

We are tested as adults every day, yet none of us sit down on a scheduled day and time with a bunch of questions and are asked to silently answer each one while someone else walks around the room looking over our shoulder. Our children are under enough pressure to excel and I do not believe putting that much pressure on a child for a test that is not mandated by the state is the best use of anyone’s time.

You also cannot judge a teacher’s performance by a grade on a test any more than you can judge a book by its cover. If you truly want to see the quality of a teacher, look around the classroom, the community, and hour churches and see the effort they put into the classroom, Look at how children react when they see that teacher outside of the classroom and notice that there are relationships that form between our child and a teacher that go beyond a book. It’s life lessons and memories we all remember from school. Davie County has those teachers, and I want to keep them here. I do not want to lose the best of what we have to other districts. We have to support our teachers because without them, our Board has nothing, our school system fails our community, and we all lose.

Other Issues

Hurst: In closing I want to say that as a teacher, I love my job, and not because of the summers off, or because of the snow days (because we certainly haven’t gotten many of those recently), and not for the pay. We choose to teach because we love our children, we love our communities, and we want to be a light for our future.

Please help me be a part of shaping Davie County Schools from the outside in and ultimately help build a stronger Davie County for all of us.