Lakeland School Board Candidates

By Julie Ray

The Bartlett Express would like to give the citizens of Bartlett, Arlington and Lakeland an opportunity to meet the candidates. Candidates were asked the same questions in regards to work, education, family, and school issues affecting the community. The full questionnaire for each candidate will be posted on the Bartlett Express website,
Presented for this week’s publication are the candidates for Lakeland School Board, positions. The candidates also have full bios on
Dr. Robert Blaudow, Doctorate in Biology with a concentration in Microbiology and Molecular Cell Sciences.Thirteen years in higher education instruction and research. My education includes multiple courses in pedagogy and instruction.
Family: My family is raising a new baby boy and expecting another child in April.
School Board Responsibilities: Hire a qualified superintendent who understands and respects the values and lifestyle of the Lakeland community, establish district policies according to state law to guide the superintendent in his mission as district director, successfully coordinate the logistical and physical demands associated with founding an autonomous school district using existing or new infrastructure.
“Few characteristics define a community better than quality schools. They drive community wealth and produce successful and productive citizens. Lakeland must deliver superior educational opportunities to our youth as an autonomous municipal school district. Our children must compete for admission to the best colleges and subsequently find careers in the local and global communities. In that endeavor, we cannot forget that preparation for success begins on the first day a student arrives at school. Although development of a municipal school district in the coming months will prove vital for Lakeland's future, the impact of Lakeland's schools will reach far beyond our community's boundaries. As my children mature into Lakeland's schools, I want to ensure they receive the best education possible. If elected, I will lead the development of an exemplary school system driven by the notion that our sons and daughters must succeed in the global economy while embracing the values that make Lakeland a fantastic city to call home. I hold a Doctorate in Biology from the University of Memphis with a concentration in microbiology and molecular cell sciences. I believe success results from excellent leadership and team performance that, in this case, includes the community at large. I am exceptionally prepared to lead Lakeland’s creation of an exemplary school district that will provide our children with the foundation for success as they face life’s challenges.”

Richard Bryant,BS MTSU, BS Physical Therapy UT Memphis, M.Ed Curriculum & Instruction Tennessee State University. Over 35 years practicing and teaching as a physical therapist including multiple program developments and private practice.
Community Involvement: Intercity ministry with adults ,youth, and children, Big Brothers mentor, co-founder of the Caritas Community Binghampton,,11 years at the Church Health Center [ministry for the uninsured in Shelby County], Graduate of the Memphis School of Servant Leadership, former Member of the Natural Resource Board Lakeland Tennessee, life Time Member - Sierra Club
Family: Wife- Linda. Kids- Laura 32, Kelli 26, Kenny 22 and William 10. Five years ago moved to Lakeland, from midtown Memphis for William to attend Lakeland Elementary.
School Board Responsibilities: Working with other board members-write and follow Mission Statement, hire a superintendent, establish and maintain a basic organizational structure for the Lakeland School Systems, develop and approve curriculum, meet local, state, and federal mandates for public schools, adopt an annual budget, provide a climate that promotes a cooperative educational environment, be available to all Lakeland citizens, encourage community involvement.
“I want to of service to our community. I am passionate about education. I have a Master degree in education - curriculum & instruction. I am a former faculty member at Tennessee State University. I am a former faculty member University of Tennessee at Memphis. I have extensive experience in program development from “ground up” and I am an experienced parent - typical and specials needs children.

Nikki Bufalino- no information available

Dr. Paul T. Criss, Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) – Central Bible College (Springfield, Missouri) – Majors: Music and Biblical Instruction (1992), Master of Music (M.M.) – Arkansas State University (Jonesboro, Arkansas) – Major: Music Composition; Graduate Thesis in Music Education (cum laude, 1994), Master of Divinity (M.Div.) – Memphis Theological Seminary (Memphis, Tennessee) – Major: Ministerial Studies (cum laude, 1999); Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) – The University of Memphis (Memphis, Tennessee) – Major: Music; Minors in Counseling and History (2007). 20 years higher education instructional experience; 12 years higher education administration experience
Community Involvement: Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce – Treasurer (2010); President (2011-2012); North Lakeland Community Association – Treasurer (2011-2012); Cub Scout Pack #453 – Committee Member/Charter Organization Executive (2009-2012); Committee Chair (2012); New Salem Cumberland Presbyterian Church – Pastor/Youth Director/Music Leader (2002-2012); Northeast Shelby County Cluster Choir Director (2003-2012)
Family: wife: Susanne Criss; church: New Salem Cumberland Presbyterian
School Board Responsibilities: To support K12 educational endeavors in the Lakeland Community. To develop an educational strategic plan including facility plans, superintendent hiring, collaboration, and oversight, and educational system mission, vision, goals and objectives. To connect the desires of parents and community residents regarding education to the administration. There are several issues that I feel must continue to be addressed: 1) Strategic facility creation plan; 2) Improved TCAP (Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program) achievement scores and TVAAS (Tennessee Value Added Assessment System) scores monitoring classroom achievement (raises and promotion to reward teachers should be based on a high standard utilizing these scores); 3) Study of best practices in K12 education within Tennessee and the United States; 4) Hire and retain an exceptional Superintendent of Schools; 5) Sustain excellence in three basic educational areas (Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic). character building, and life-long learning; 6) Maintaining a parent-driven school system; 7) Valued added to students and learning experience for the students (we are here for them, not the other way around); 8) Monitoring of Passion and Accountability of Administration and Faculty; 9) Production of graduates whose choices are not limited because of their education, but rather are enhanced so that they exceed their potential; 10) Ensure minimum grade point averages of 2.0 for graduates and minimum ACT scores of 21 (students must earn at least a 21 ACT score to be eligible for the HOPE scholarship and to not have to take remedial courses in college). My goal as a school board member would be to establish a culture of excellence and to form a school system that, rather than being a detractor, is an attractor for current and future residents of Lakeland, Tennessee

“Educational leadership has been a passion of mine and life investment. I believe that education should prepare students to be good citizens with good consciences ready for college and/or career. Public education has been the foundation of our country and the freedoms we have been granted. If we are to retain those freedoms we must have citizens prepared to contribute to a free society. My experience and education will allow me to contribute to the success of the Lakeland School system especially in these formative years. In addition to two masters degrees and a doctoral degree, I possess twenty years of post-secondary educational instruction experience ranging from general education to fine arts courses. I also have twelve years of post-secondary leadership and administration experience as a Chief Executive Officer and Chief Academic Officer. In those positions, my responsibilities included policy-making, hiring/termination, effectiveness & assessment, negotiating articulation agreements with other educational institutions, and connecting with all constituencies including the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and accrediting agencies.”

Kevin Floyd, earned Juris Doctor degree from the University of Mississippi in 1999 and my Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Tennessee in 1996, practicing attorney for 13 years. The primary areas of focus during my years of law practice have been real estate, business law and church law.
Community Involvement: member of the PTA at Lakeland Elementary School and a member of Partnership Lakeland.
Family: married for 12 years to Rebecca Floyd and have two daughters Caroline (age 7) and Allison (age 3). Caroline is currently in the second grade at Lakeland Elementary.
School Board Responsibilities: I see the Board’s role as the gate keeper for our children, making sure that they get the best education possible. Responsibilities of the Board will include: hiring a great Superintendent, making policy, setting salaries, granting tenure, and preparing a budget.
“I have one daughter in her third year at Lakeland Elementary School and another daughter who will attend there in two years. I believe that Lakeland Elementary School is one of the strongest schools in our county. The educational experience provided by the administration and teachers at our school is excellent, and the parental involvement is truly amazing, and it’s my desire to see that continue. I understand the importance of education and of educators. My mother is a retired school teacher. She taught in the Shelby County school system for 28 years and retired from Arlington Middle School. I’m also a graduate from the Shelby County School System. As such, I not only experienced our local school systems at work as a student, but I also have grown up in an environment where multiple aspects of education ranging from expectations for teachers to student success were a continual topic of discussion. My mother’s passion for quality education was most certainly passed on to me. Like many of us, upon learning of the surrender of their charter by Memphis City Schools, I began to consider how this would impact my children’s education. My motivation for running for school board stems from my belief that my work and life experiences have equipped me with skills that will be important and helpful in ensuring the children of Lakeland will receive the best education possible.”

Laura Harrison, Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering, University of Memphis, ’01, currently enrolled in Executive Masters of Business Administration at Bethel University, Coursework complete in Jan ’13, 11 years of experience as Project Engineer for a Fortune 500 company.
Community Involvement: Initiated Grassroots Vote Yes for Lakeland Municipal Schools Initiative, VP Vote Yes for Lakeland Schools Single Measure Committee, currently serve on Lakeland Elementary PTA Board of Managers, past and current room parent at Lakeland Elementary, PTSA Member - Arlington High School, Partnership Lakeland Member.
Family: Huband, Scott, married for 11 years. We have 4 children: Austin attends Arlington High School; Hailey, Hannah, & Nathan attend Lakeland Elementary
School Board Responsibilities: The Lakeland School Board’s most important roles are to hire a superintendent and to develop policies and budget priorities that will shape the Lakeland Municipal School system. The board will be responsible for vital decisions about schools in Lakeland ranging from curriculum to funding of various programs and activities to goals for student achievement. The Lakeland school board will need to work with the multiple parts of the community, such as the Lakeland Board of Commissioners, other local school boards, parents, and even the Nashville legislature as an advocate for the children of Lakeland to ensure the educational needs of Lakeland children are met.
“Our children are the reason I’m running for the Lakeland School Board. I know that a quality education is critical to their future and we are at pivotal moment for them and our town. I know that I can represent our community by making informed decisions that will take all sides into consideration to ensure the quality of education remains the primary focus. As a project engineer at a fortune 500 company, I have had 11 years of experience in project planning and implementation that the Lakeland Municipal School Board will need in order to be successful. I have been both a project lead and on planning teams where I have had multiple responsibilities including project initiation, definition of the scope of work, developing the project budget, data analysis, and postmortem implementation review. Through this work I continually partner with people from many different backgrounds to ensure the success of each project I participate in. Additionally, I have 4 children that will be a part of the Lakeland Municipal School system so every decision I make will have a direct impact on both Lakeland children and my own.”

Teresa Henry, graduated from Bartlett High School; attended State Technical Institute, started my professional work experience as a medical office assistant and worked my way up to manage a medical office. From there I went to work at a local IT consulting firm to manage their employee benefits. Since that time, I have been a full time mom and active in the education of my son. I have been on the PTA Board of Managers for 8 years in various positions and committees.
Community Involvement: Lakeland Elementary PTA and room parent for 5 years Arlington Middle School PTA and room parent for 3 years Awarded the Shelby County PTA Life Achievement Award Lakeland Youth Soccer Program Lakeland Cub Scouts Pack
Family: Married to TC Henry for 14 years. I have a 13 year old son that is attending Arlington Middle School, a 22 & 26 year old step-daughters and two grandsons.
School Board Responsibilities: The first responsibility will be to start a search for a qualified superintendent. Secondly, start writing the policies, procedures and budget that the Lakeland school district will operate under. We will also be responsible for working with the Shelby County and other Municipal School Boards to find contracts for shared services. We should look to the Tennessee School Board Association and others who have formed new school districts for direction and prioritizing what needs to be done and when.
“I have always had a heart for children. When my son started kindergarten, it became a desire to help the children get the best education they can. I was able to fulfill this desire by being active in PTA. I feel being on the Lakeland School Board is the next step in serving the children in the Lakeland community. I have managed a Medical Office. When I was working Human Resources with employee benefits, I would send out request for bids and review them for the best possible benefits for the employees, then report back to the Board of Directors for approval to implement new or improved benefits. I would work with the employees to resolve issues they had with their benefits. I also wrote the FMLA policies and procedures when I was working with employee benefits. During my 8 years on PTA, I have worked on the Budget committee, the By-laws & Standing Rules committee and made necessary adjustments for the local unit. I have held the following positions, Publicity (including the newsletter & website), Ways and Means (fundraising), Parental Involvement, Membership, Calendar Coordinator, and a Room Parent for the teacher’s classroom.”

Robin Larrabee, B. A. English, Birmingham-Southern; M. A. Education, University of Florida, over thirty years experience teaching in federal programs, private school, and public schools.
Community Involvement: Member, Lakeland Lions Club; Member and volunteer in Children’s Ministry, Hope Presbyterian Church
Family: Married with three adult children and five grandchildren.
School Board Reponsibilities: To select an excellent superintendent, to establish policy, to develop an effective budget.
“Besides years of teaching experience in the classroom and a master’s in Education, I have served on a committee to secure SACS accreditation, and I know what it takes to have an excellent school system. I understand budgeting constraints and would work closely with municipal officials to create an effective budget.”

Jay Tyler, Bachelor of Arts, University of Michigan; Master of Education, Bowie State University; Safety Management, Naval Post Graduate School. Various Advanced Training Programs, United States Navy. Graduate: General Sessions Civil Mediation, Commander, United States Navy (Retired) – Designated Warfare Specialties: Naval Intelligence, Naval Flight Officer (Mission Commander), Human Resource Management. Executive Assistant – Chief of Naval Technical Training (Superintendent of all Navy Technical Training) Executive Property Manager, The Cates Company. Executive Vice President, ProCheck Collection Co., Owner, Memphis Visitor Information Service, Dba GuestLink.
Community Involvement: Member, Memphis Prevention Coalition; Member, Lakeland Transition Planning Committee, researching issues concerning School District policy; Food and Nutrition; Transportation; Information Systems; Maintenance and Custodial support; Human Resources policy development; and developing criteria for hiring a school district superintendent.
Family: Married to Carolyn Green Tyler, 33 years
School Board Responsibilities: The School Board is responsible for the long-term vision for the school district including educational philosophy, funding, long-term goals and planning for anticipated growth. Specifically the school board is responsible for establishing overall school district policy, budgeting, hiring, supervising and guiding the Director of Schools (superintendent).
“Lakeland has been given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create its own school system. I want to bring my extensive experience and proven skills to make it the best school system in the state. I have leadership experience with a wide range of organizations from large scale to start-up companies. While stationed in Millington on the staff of the Chief of Naval Technical Training I was responsible for the funding, training, manning, curriculum and operational direction of the Navy’s three basic training schools with an annual throughput in excess of 4,000 students. I was also the Executive Assistant to the Chief of Naval Technical Training, the Navy’s “School District” for all technical training. I have been instrumental in establishing new enterprises both in the Navy and in the business community. I was also part of the vanguard for the Navy’s Human Resource Management programs, ultimately serving as the senior HRM officer for the United States Pacific Fleet responsible for the HRM policies of 325,000 Navy and civilian personnel.”

Paul Vandiver, Bachelor of Science degree from MTSU. I am licensed to teach 1st -8th grade, current business owner and former teacher.

Family: Married with two children ages 2 and 4.
School Board Responsibilities: The primary responsibility is to hire the right superintendent for our school system. The superintendent must know how to write a budget, hire personnel and manage a school system.
“I would like the opportunity to serve and contribute to the best of my ability. I want to see the Lakeland schools emerge as a leading school district both in the state of Tennessee and also in the Nation. As a former fourth grade teacher, I understand what the students, faculty, and parents expect in a quality school system. I believe my current position as a business owner helps qualify me as well. My responsibilities require that I interview, hire, communicate and hold employees accountable daily, which is an important skill set for our new Lakeland school district.”

Karen Woodward, Bachelors of Science, Elementary Education, University of Memphis, former teacher in Shelby County Schools, Graduate of Memphis City Schools, Small business owner.
Community Involvement: Lakeland Chamber of Commerce- VP, Partnership Lakeland, Lakeland Civic Club, Lakeland Lions Club, Garner Lake Fireworks-Coordinator, Lakeland PTA- 7th VP, Lakeland Christmas Parade, Lakeland t-ball coach, Lakeland soccer coach, PTSA member- Arlington Middle School
Family: Married-Keith Woodward, 2 daughters- Payton Woodward, Arlington Middle School, Haley Woodward, Lakeland Elementary School.
School Board Responsibilities: School boards are student- focused with education as the primary motivation. The board must be accessible to the community and responsible for the overall performance of the schools. They will create policies to guide the everyday management of the schools.
“As an active Lakeland resident, mother of two, former educator, and successful business woman, I have a strong desire to serve my community. I want to continue to work for our city and apply my experience and knowledge in creating an excellent school system for Lakeland. As a parent, professional, and an involved community member, I see first hand the value of a strong educational foundation. I am a native Memphian who has a passion for the field of education. I am a graduate of the Memphis City School system (K-12) who benefited from the various programs including athletics, honors, extra curricular and outreach. I have also experienced the impact of the deficiencies that exist within any school system. As an educator, I have taught in both the City and County school systems. My professional career has consisted of owning my own business, owning and managing multiple rental properties, building and managing construction of homes in Lakeland, and working for corporate America. I have two wonderful daughters who currently attend Lakeland Elementary and Arlington Middle. In lieu of uprooting my children from their neighborhood schools, I have chosen, as my parents did for me, to not only see this transition through, but offer my experiences and expertise to allow all children the opportunity to benefit from the quality education that the public school systems offer.”