Potts: A lifetime of educational experience
Published 9:47 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 candidates filed.
W.G “Dub” Potts
Homer Potts Rd. Mocksville
Wife, Diana Potts; daughter Brooke (Brad) Preslar; son, David (Beth) Potts, four grandchildren, Hudson Potts, Caroline Preslar, Olivia Potts, Emmy Preslar
Appalachian State University EdS in Education Leadership; NCA&T Masters in School Administration; NCA& Masters in Health; Appalachian State University, Bachelors In Health and Physical Education with teachers certification; Davie County High School, diploma
Retired School Administrator- Superintendent, Davie County Schools
In the Community
• Active member Hillsdale Baptist Church (teacher, elder, serve on committees);
• Davie County Aging Service Board
• NC State Employees Credit Union Board of Directors),
• Former Board member and Chair of Smart Start of Davie County
• Former Board member of United Way
• Formerly elected to Davie County Soil and Water Conservation Board
• Served nine years in the NC National Guard
• Daily volunteer at Cornatzer Elementary School
Why did you decide to seek public office?
Potts: I want to give back to a community that has given so very much to me, as I was fortunate to spend 25 years in Davie County Schools as a school administrator. I have truly enjoyed being a part of the Board of Education the past eight years, currently serving as Chair. We are fortunate to be recognized as one of the best public school system in North Carolina.
Public school education has been a priority with me since I first entered the education career 40 years ago. I experienced integration, student accountability, changes in principal leadership, improvement in teacher education programs, Covid closings, virtual school instruction, and a wide range of other program impacts.
I want to be sure we continue to stay at the top in our opportunities for all students and staff. I want to be a part of a system that is working to offer every child a sound basic education while we continue to offer broader opportunities on how we deliver the product of education.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the school system, and how do you intend to address those challenges?
Potts: Public schools are a reflection of our society. To say there is a number one issue to deal with over the next four years is difficult. That said, there are four areas I feel we will deal with over the next four years that will be critical in the success of DCS: teacher shortages, Artificial Intelligence, retaining teachers with 26+ years of experience, and replacement of the loss of Federal funds (commonly known as ESSER) which sunset September 30, 2024.
a. Teacher shortage is a national problem. Shortages began in the mid-nineties in specific instructional areas such as science, math, and special education, but now it is a concern across all instructional areas. Davie County cannot solve this problem alone but there are things we can do. We need the State to fund teacher’s salaries to be competitive with other similar professions. In Davie County we could attract more beginning teachers if we have some type of housing incentive which I will address in the next question.
b. Artificial Intelligence has the potential to overrun our lives. I would like to see more classes at middle/high school level that focuses on helping students realize the power of AI and its effect on the world.
c. There seems to be a growing concern that teachers who have 26+ years of experience move to NC school districts that offer much greater supplements. This is done by a teacher who is considering retirement after 30 years and realizes their lifetime retirement will be based on the four highest years of funding. Davie County could eliminate this concern with a financial supplement beginning in year 26 that is comparable to our neighboring counties. Since the teaching environment is so much better here than many neighboring counties, I believe our most experienced teachers would choose to finish their career here and enjoy their final years of teaching.
d. Like all public schools in NC, we have received ESSER funds the past three years. ESSER Funds were designed to help public organizations with Covid recovery. These funds were used to hire several support staff in our system. With these funds removed, we stand in danger of losing several positions that directly support student learning.
We must never forget the broader issues of safety and protection of our most valuable resource, our children. We are blessed in Davie County but we must never take this for granted and keep school safety in every decision. This is not election year conversation. As a Board member I will continue to support funding for staff and student safety needs. We have developed safety protocol (example locked doors, buzz-in systems, visitor sign in and out procedures, Covid-19 procedures, etc. etc.) for all of us to follow. Although sometimes inconvenienced, when it comes to student protection it is expected by all to meet the procedural requirements.
Should the school system increase incentives to recruit and retain teachers?
Potts: Absolutely and all experience brackets are effected. For beginning teachers affordable housing for those fresh out of college is not available. Even though we are experiencing gains in new apartments opening and new houses are being constructed, those fresh out of college cannot afford the offerings that are available. I would like to see a public-private partnership offering rental housing to teachers within their first four years of teaching.
The second age group most in need of incentives are those in the child bearing ages. Adequate and affordable child care spaces are simply not available. The facilities we have are wonderful and many are working hard to be a 5 Star facility but there is not enough affordable facilities available to the young parents. As a Board member, I would love to have the opportunity to be a part of developing and expanding an affordable Five-Star, quality child care center for preschool children.
The third group needing additional incentives are those with 26+ years of experience. We need to work with local officials to increase salary supplements for those who are in their last four years of teaching. Why? Because your NC retirement is based on the average of your four highest years of salary and under the current structure, that typically means your final four years. I would like to see our supplements be competitive with our neighboring county which used this as a recruiting tool to get our most experienced teachers.
Potts: My wife, Diana, has faithfully supported me as a public servant since I entered the teaching profession. Together we have raised two children who attended Davie County Schools and were able to receive a top quality education that allowed them to be successful at ASU and NCSU and in their chosen professions as a teacher and engineer. I am honored to get the opportunity to continue to be a part of public schools which has had my devotion for my entire adult life. I have been fortunate to have experienced many roles in the public education sector. I was a classroom teacher and high school coach for twelve years prior to going into school administration. After returning to the area where I grew up, Davie County, I served in many positions which have given me a full glimpse of the Davie County Schools’ system. Among the school based positions in Davie County Schools are assistant principal, principal of William R. Davie, North Davie and Davie County High School.
In the DCS central administration I served in many capacities from Director through the Superintendent. After retirement, I worked in other school systems on a part time, interim, or consultant basis. I have stayed abreast of the issues in public education. I enjoy volunteering at Cornatzer Elementary School on a daily basis opening car doors for the children. Currently, I am honored to serve Davie County as Chair of the Board of Education.
Throughout my adult life, I have always actively served in a local church. Since 2001, my wife and I have been active at Hillsdale Baptist Church where I have served as a teacher, elder, and on various committees. I have been an active Gideon since 2001 holding various leadership positions.
Among the non-school positions I serve are the Board of the Davie Aging Planning Services and the Board of Directors of the State Employees Credit Union. I have served on the Smart Start of Davie County Board of Directors, United Way Board, Davie Soil and Water Conservation Board, and the North Carolina School Board Association Board of Directors. We have operated a family farm since 2011 so I feel the economic influence that Covid had on a small business. As a former Mocksville Rotarian, I have seen how Davie County leaders volunteer their time and resources to the betterment of public schools.
Our schools and central office staffs are very service oriented. I will be honored to work with staff, service organizations, parents and students to make sure every child has a safe, caring, properly equipped place to learn. Our kids are our future. Each graduation class will produce some CEO’s, lawyers, doctors, teachers, technicians, and hundreds of other positions that haven’t been created yet. I want to be a small part toward helping prepare them with a solid foundation to contribute to the best nation in the world. This generation is as deserving of the opportunities provided by a solid public education as I received.
As a Board of Education member, I will work with leaders, both in the private sector and elected governmental officials, to find ways to keep teachers in the classroom. We are fortunate in Davie County because one consistent goal among our current Board is “let’s do what‘s right for children”, even with a limited supply of funds. We must continue to build on the recent growth in positive working relationships between the Davie County Commissioners and the Davie County Board of Education. As a candidate on the Republican Party ticket, I need and appreciate all citizens’ votes. I encourage each of you to know your candidate and know which Board of Education candidates might be an appropriate role model for your child, your grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc. The elected Board members will be establishing local policy and direction for the next four years. Your vote will help me to fill that role.