(Editor’s Note: Each of the six candidates in the race for two seats on the Ohio County Board of Education was asked to reply to five questions concerning the future of Ohio County Schools so that their answers could be published free of charge. The stories will be published based on the order the replies were received from a total of 16 candidates running for Assessor, the Board of Education, County Clerk, and County Sheriff.)
Jenny Jebbia, Candidate, Ohio County Board of Education
Coincidentally, 2016 marks the year during which Jenny Jebbia will celebrate her 25-year class reunion with her 1991 Wheeling Park High classmates, and she also finds herself, for the first time, running for an elected position on the Ohio County Board of Education.
Jebbia, the mother of a daughter and son who also have graduated from WPHS and of another daughter now a student in the system, has been in politics during her professional career as a member of former Congressman Alan Mollohan’s staff and as a regional marketing manager for current state Treasurer John Perdue. As a mom she has volunteered as a reading tutor, homeroom assistant, and as a Brownie Troop leader, and she once was a math teacher in the Buckeye Local School District.
If elected to the Ohio County Board of Education, Jebbia said she would focus on the success of the students’ entire educational experience in Ohio County Schools because she believes children love to learn and that it is a board member’s responsibility to work with the superintendent, with the staff, faculty and parents, and with the other board members to provide the best possible atmosphere.
What are your primary reasons for filing to run for a seat on the Ohio County Board of Education?
My primary reason for filing to run for a seat on the Ohio County Board of Education is return the focus of Ohio County Schools back to the students. I believe that more focus and energy need to be placed on providing the best educational experience possible for every student in Ohio County Schools. Education is a very critical component to their future successes. It’s our responsibility to prepare students for life after graduating from high school.
What is your opinion of the most recent test scores received by Ohio County’s public school students; how do you believe improved scores can be achieved in the future; and do you feel those scores represent an adequate way to judge a school district’s employees?
As a former teacher and parent, I am not going to allow the most recent test scores to frighten me. The test given last year did not have prior results to compare it with; therefore, we cannot accurately determine if the scores were higher or lower than previous years. It’s extremely hard to motivate students to do well on a standardized test that really does not benefit them. I would never judge a school district’s employees based on a test with little merit.
Our teachers do a fantastic job educating our students, and looking at the ACT, SAT, AP and college acceptances each year validates their success in the classroom. If I were to explore ways to improve test scores, I would focus on the middle-school curriculum. Working with the educators to develop programs to strengthen math and reading skills could be essential to improving these scores.
How important do you believe the current arts programs are to a child’s education?
I believe the arts programs are essential to Ohio County Schools in many ways. It allows creative and talented students to develop a passion for the arts and explore potential opportunities they may want to pursue post-graduation. The instructors in the arts programs dedicate their time, talent, and energy to inspire students to chase their dreams. The numerous achievements by all departments are a reflection of the success of the arts in Ohio County Schools.
They have made a tremendous effort to provide a variety of programs to enrich our students’ educational experience. Whether a child is interested in music, theater, speech, vocational, athletics, or academics, their needs are fulfilled with phenomenal opportunities.
What ideas do you have at this time to increase the amount of parental involvement with the Ohio County public school system?
Many parents are challenged with daily life events. I do not believe it is any parent’s intent to become uninvolved in the school system. It is extremely challenging to attend school functions all the time if you have multiple children in different grade levels. If we found a way to have an event calendar for the entire county and tried to ‘limit’ the overlapping of numerous activities, it would help parents have more flexibility with schedules.
Also, I think we need to find a more efficient way to post the events in advance to help eliminate scheduling conflicts. Another suggestion I would recommend, from my own experience, is entertaining altering the start times for after-school activities in the middle schools. Most athletic events start at 4:15 p.m., and many parents are unable to attend because they work until 5 p.m. It’s difficult to leave work early multiple times per week unless you are self-employed.
What should be the top priorities be for the members of the new school board and the new superintendent heading into the 2016-2017 academic year?
In my opinion, a few of the top priorities should be to set a goal of starting the school year off with all vacant positions for teachers and administrators to be filled prior to the first day of school. It is not easy to begin a new school year and hit the ground running with numerous positions staffed with substitutes.
Another priority I would focus on is having quality staff meetings with each school prior to the first day, to establish any new policies or procedures that the new superintendent would like to implement.
Finally, I would try to reassure ALL Ohio County School Employees that we are working toward the same goal — making a difference in the life of a child. In order to accomplish this, we must all work together, have open communication and be supportive of the new superintendent. I believe that contributing to the continued success of Ohio County Schools should be every board member’s goal for the 2016-2017.
(Photos provided by the candidate)