Myra Mansfield has focused on reading and math proficiency and support for all students in her campaign for Oak Ridge Board of Education.
“Every child in our schools should achieve proficiency in reading and math,” Mansfield said in a press release announcing her campaign.
Mansfield is one of three candidates to qualify to run for one of two school board seats in the November 8 election. The other two candidates are the two incumbents, Angi Agle and Keys Fillauer.
In the press release, Mansfield said she is running because she believes that all children, regardless of their background, are capable of achieving greatness.
“I was compelled by what I read in the local newspapers,” Mansfield said. “Students are underachieving from all backgrounds across the city and that demands our attention.”
Mansfield said she is the daughter of K-25 retiree Stanley Finch and Oak Ridge National Laboratory retiree Shirley Garrison (Finch) Frykman. She said she is a lifelong Oak Ridger and proud product of Woodland Elementary, Jefferson Middle, and Oak Ridge High schools. She has degrees in accounting, business management, and a master’s degree focused in counseling, the press release said. Her daughters Esther and Elizabeth are graduates of MTSU and son Jonathan is a student at Roane State Community College.
Mansfield said she has served in various leadership, counseling, and educational roles throughout her life, and she is deeply committed to Oak Ridge children and teens. She is the current director of client services for Choices Resource Center and has served on the Anderson County Preschool Policy Council, the Anderson County Drug Court Advisory Board, and in law enforcement chaplaincy.
She is the event coordinator for the annual Nurturing and Safe World child advocacy seminar held in Oak Ridge and is an advocate with Shepherding the Next Generation, the press release said. Mansfield is also a former counselor with Contact Care Line, YWCA domestic violence program, and Red Cross Disaster Relief. She said she previously served in Oak Ridge Schools as a substitute teacher and currently works with guidance counselors and staff in local schools coordinating school support programs.
“Through her professional and volunteer work, Myra understands the personal struggles facing the average Oak Ridge student today,” the release said. “She also believes that, for most, education can help them overcome many of those struggles. Her approach to improving our treasured school system will be simple, but laser-focused: Equip every student with the resources necessary to master reading and math so that they may succeed in whatever direction life takes them.”
The press release said Mansfield has observed that a pyramid has been created in which students who are scholastic, athletic, or talented are able to float to the top. And students with specific disabilities who may not have as high achievement capabilities are given special attention.
“Between those groups are literally thousands of students who are overlooked,” the press release said. “These overlooked students lack specific support to help them achieve their personal best and/or may not have the inspiration to hope for more.”
Mansfield said that about 60 percent of Oak Ridge students in grades 3-8 perform below grade level in math and reading. These statistics lead to similar results on high school ACT tests, the press release said.
“Approximately 42 percent of students were on grade level in reading at third grade, and this carried through to high school graduation, where approximately 42 percent of students passed the ACT with college readiness scores,” the release said. “Myra believes we can do better and that the teachers hold the solutions.”
She said her plan is to:
- Prepare the ordinary student to become extraordinary by achieving proficiency in reading and math.
- Re-direct greater resources to the classrooms in the city’s elementary and middle schools.
- Seek out and listen to each and every teacher while encouraging parental support
“Reading and math are essential building blocks of education,” Mansfield said. “Educators know best how to teach. We must empower teachers especially in the elementary and middle schools because they want to see your child succeed as much as you do. I have already begun my campaign listening to teachers. There is a lot of concern over the imbalance of test scores, high population of students from socio/economically challenged families, and serious problems with attendance and truancy. I am proud of our students who excel, but we can no longer afford to focus only on their successes. We must empower every student with the specific support they each need. I hope you will join me in better-targeting our resources by intentionally investing in our teachers and classrooms.”
It’s the second campaign this year for Mansfield. She also ran in a special election on August 4 for one of two seats in Anderson County Commission’s District 8, but lost to Phil Yager, one of two other candidates. Mansfield also sought that District 8 seat in the county general election in August 2014 and in an Anderson County Commission appointment in August 2015.
There are three candidates running for two seats on the Oak Ridge Board of Education. Besides Mansfield, they are the two incumbents, Keys Fillauer and Angi Agle. You can follow our 2016 election coverage here. You can see the November 8 sample ballot, which includes Oak Ridge Board of Education candidates, here.
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