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May 24 Primary Election Guide – A look at the Madison County Schools superintendent and school board races

By Erin Coggins

Madison County voters will head to the polls on Tuesday, May 24 to elect a new superintendent of Madison County Schools as well as school board members for District 4 and 5.

All candidates recently met with voters and presented their platforms at the Monrovia Community Center.

Candidates for Madison County Superintendent:

Ken Kubik

Kubik is a 26-year veteran of the Madison County School System where he currently serves as Director of Personnel. Kubik’s wife, Jamie, is works as a guidance counselor at the Madison County Virtual Academy. Besides having been a teacher and coach, Kubik has also served as the interim superintendent for the system and is a former police officer.

Kubik’s plan for Madison County Schools is three prong: support student learning and ensuring a safe learning environment, support school personnel with the resources and training to meet the needs of student and organize the district’s plans and budget to support the previous priorities.

“Madison County’s future starts in our schools,” Kubik said. “I am invested in the well-being of this school system, its educators and staff, and Madison County as a whole. I know we can elevate all children to accomplish their best.”

Chris Shaw

Currently the principal at Sparkman High School, Shaw has 35 years in education as a teacher and as an administrator. He graduated from the University of Alabama’s Superintendents Academy.

Shaw champions for restoring discipline to the classroom, making sure that Madison County schools have 21st century technology in the classroom, establishing an open-door policy with parents and improving communication with parents and teachers.

“I have seen first hand the challenges and opportunities teachers and principals are facing,” Shaw said. “I will restore discipline to the classroom and make sure that our teachers have the tools to teach and children attend class in person.”

Capt. Cameron Whitlow

Whitlow has been the principal at Merdianville Middle School since 2018.  He is also a Captain in the Army National Guard and served in the U.S. Marine Corps.

If elected, Whitlow says he will establish a students first policy. He supports safe schools and college and workforce development, starting with early exposure to career options, particularly in grades K-8. With the state dealing with a teacher shortage, Whitlow wants to create a recruitment and retention plan for teachers, support personnel, bus drivers and substitutes.

“I would like to push for change and will support schools with business leaders in their community to ensure that we see a brighter future that guarantees students that they will be prepared day one after graduation to have a positive impact financially, socially and spiritually,” Whitlow said.

 

District 4 School Board Candidates

Shatika Armstrong

Armstrong is the Parent Coordinator at Whitesburg Elementary School where she develops parenting workshops, provides information, resources and support for families to support learning at home. She also currently serves on the Parent Teacher Organization Board at Legacy Elementary School.

As an active member of the community, Armstrong describes herself as a principled advocate for equity in the public school system. As a board member, Armstrong will push for every student to have a fair and equitable education. She also supports building strong parent, teacher partnerships to ensure student success and upholding values in the school to build a better community.

“I am a parent with students in the district,” Armstrong said. “I will always look for balance and equity in all decisions ensuring the best outcome for both teachers and students. I would also like to see more community interaction with the board and the schools.”

Heath Jones

Jones is a native of Madison County and a product of Madison County Schools. He is a Huntsville firefighter and president of the Toney Volunteer Fire Department.

Jones has a six-step plan for Madison County Schools including, ensuring that teachers have the support, supplies, tools and equipment to teach their students, working to equip all classrooms with state of-the-art technology, supporting dual enrollment and workforce development and being an active school board member that both parents and classroom teachers can count on for support.

“My years of service to our community is undeniable proof of my dedication to the community that I have resided in since birth,” Jones said. “Additionally, I am a product of the Madison County School System and the candidate fighting for the Madison County School System.”

 

District 5 School Board Candidates

Bill Byrd

Byrd spent 20 years in the Navy and the Marine Corps before entering education. He has spent the last 25 years as a middle school math teacher in the Madison County System. Byrd also coaches soccer.

As an award-winning educator and a parent of two students who graduated from Madison County Schools, Byrd says he knows exactly what is at stake. His focus is on the need to foster respect and discipline in every classroom, so all students have a safe and positive learning environment. He also supports 21st century technology for all Madison County Schools and the instructional rigor necessary for success.

“As a parent, I know education is not always easy,” Byrd said. “And as a teacher, I understand that it is truly a team effort to give the best to our children. Regardless of the methodology, Madison County Schools must maintain the highest standards to meet or exceed the best in our nation and this world.”

Jaylen Cotton

Cotton is a 2021 graduate of Sparkman High School. He currently serves as a general manager at a local restaurant.

Cotton, the youngest candidate in the race, says he wants to return complete local control to the the Madison County School district. He is also interested in seeing an increased emphasis on career-tech programs and jobs.

“There is no opportunity out of reach for our students,” Cotton said. “If it is available somewhere else, it should be available for them. Our entire community fails or succeeds based upon our public education system.”

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