When the Clinton County Board of Education meets for the first time in 2013 next week, there will be one new member serving in his first term as an elected official.
Local businessman Jeff Sams, 44, was elected as District Two Board Member last November to represent the citizens in the Neathery/Cave Springs, Snow and Seventy-Six precincts.
Sams is a native of Indiana where he grew up and graduated high school. However, he said he used to visit his step-dad every summer and while visiting in 1986, he loved the area so much, “I never went back (to Indiana),” he said.
The new board member has owned Jones’ Restaurant in neighboring Burkesville, an establishment he had managed for 14 years prior before becoming the owner.
Sams said he primarily sought the seat because of the kids, noting his oldest son went through college and earned a business degree and he would like to see Clinton County become a place where high school graduates can come back home after college to find a job.
He said he had considered seeking the seat four years ago, but was in transition at the restaurant but after getting settled in, it gave him the opportunity to run for office.
“I’d like to see the kids that leave here be able to come back and go to work,” he noted. He believes this is about the area’s only downfall–not enough jobs, noting the school system itself was the second largest employer in the county.
Sams noted that sometimes kids aren’t prepared for college, not because of the lack of a good high school education, but because of the changes they face from high school to higher education institutions.
Sams feels there are different functions of a school board member, other than just being able to hire the superintendent and board attorney. Among those is overseeing how the district functions, how the revenues are spent, disciplinary policies and especially as a “go-between” with parents, faculty, staff, students and administration and the superintendent.
The newest Board of Education member also feels the school system in being managed well financially, saying he felt Supt. Charlotte Bernard seems to be doing a good job in that area and that former Supt. Mickey McFall left the district financially sound upon his retirement last year.
Sams also noted that state test scores and other related scores among local students are picking up, but added “there’s always room for improvement” in all school districts across the country. He added it would be a priority to help teachers have the resources they need and added Clinton County has a wonderful group of teachers…seldom do you hear anything negative.
Sams noted he didn’t see any major changes that needed to take place in the schools, saying there was already a lot of things in the works. He did say, however, that in working in the food service industry for so long, he hopes he can help out in the area of food service, to see improvements and still adhere to many new federal guidelines associated with that program.
The newest member of the board also believes that to serve on this board, or any other, a person has to be open-minded and willing to work with everyone. “If there’s a problem, you have to work together to solve it…if not we’ll be like they are on the federal level now,” he said. You need to be willing to give and take, everyone is entitled to an opinion.
Sams said he appreciated everyones support during this campaign last year and thanked the man whose place he will be taking, long-time board member and former board chairman, Ned Davis for the type of campaign he conducted as well as for the decades of service he has given to the community. He noted that Davis, who lives close by, has been facing some health issues and said he was in his family’s prayers.
Sams is a member of Aaron’s Chapel Separate Baptist Church and he and his wife Shannon have two sons, Michael Sams, 24, and Seth Smith, 14, an 8th grader at Clinton County Middle School. He closed by saying that if any parent or guardian of any student had any concerns, they could call him and he looks forward to serving the citizens and students in Clinton County.