Linda Armistead seeks re-election to Wilson County school board Zone 4

Staff Reports • Jul 6, 2018 at 5:24 PM

Linda Armistead announced her candidacy for re-election to a second term on the Wilson County Board of Education in Zone 4. 

 “I am eager to continue supporting educational excellence for our students,” Armistead said. “My life’s work has been dedicated to the education of young people as a classroom teacher in Wilson County for 27 years and as an administrator of a career training and job-ready grant called YouthLinks for 11 years.”  

During her classroom years, Armistead led and sponsored several school clubs and organizations such as drama club, Future Teachers of America, the cheerleading squad, Students Taking a Right Stand, forensics and debate teams, as well as coaching tennis. She also organized and led two independent student tours to Europe and a church school group to Washington, D.C. 

She received her bachelor of science degree from Middle Tennessee State University and later completed her certificates for global career development facilitator, service learning and work-based learning and a teacher credential course for personal finance. She earned career level 1 and highly qualified teacher status.

She was involved in community projects for Habitat for Humanity, the Wilson County Community Help Center and Empower Me Day Camp and was a member of the Choral Dynamics group. She was a 2005 Leadership Wilson graduate. She served as president and treasurer of Wilson Organization for Networking and Education. 

She is a current member of the Mt. Juliet and Lebanon-Wilson County chambers of commerce, where she previously served on both education committees, worked with the teacher grant committee and the Tennessee Scholars program and received the honor of “Educator of the Year” in 2003 from the Mt. Juliet chamber.  

Armistead was married 47 years to the late Steve Armistead and has lived in Mt. Juliet since 1978. She has two children, Stephanie McDonald and Chadwick Armistead, former graduates of Mt. Juliet High School, and six grandchildren, three of whom are still in Wilson County Schools – a third grader at Gladeville Elementary School, a sixth grader at West Wilson Middle School and a ninth grader at Wilson Central High School. She is a member of Victory Baptist Church.

Armistead retired in 2012, but two years later, decided to become an advocate for students and teachers by serving on the school board, where she recently attained Tennessee School Board Association’s Level IV award.  

“School board representative is a position I am highly qualified to accept and will continue to dedicate myself to ensure each student has an opportunity for a successful educational experience, preparing for the future,” Armistead said.

While serving as a school board member for the past four years, Armistead said accelerated growth in the community was front and center, thus the need to plan proactively for new buildings and classroom space and also approve a 10-year capital outlay plan. During the time, she supported land purchases, six school renovations and the building of several new schools. Springdale Elementary School opened its doors in 2017, Gladeville Middle School is targeted to open for the 2019-2020 school year and a new high school in Mt. Juliet is in the works, and building will likely begin soon. The school renovations added classrooms at each site to alleviate overcrowding and safety issues within the buildings and outside in the car and bus traffic areas. Armistead also supported the renovation and design of the formerly condemned Lebanon High School to incorporate all the educational departments that were previously located in various sites and buildings across the county, including three schools, the Adult High School, TVOLS and the GED program, and to provide a new home for board meetings.  

“Another issue that precipitated from rapid growth was the bus driver shortage, which created a hardship on many parents and the students who relied on this mode of transportation to and from school,” Armistead said. “The incentives offered and the pay increase the board supported for drivers, along with approval to provide CareHere benefits, helped with recruiting and stabilizing a challenging transportation issue. 

“TNReady testing, with all its problems and issues of validity, has been one of the most frustrating issues as a school board member. While I supported the hold harmless for teachers and students, I questioned the need for so many assessments and length of valuable time taken from teachers for instruction and the cost. It doesn’t make sense to continue this testing madness with the state, especially since the Every Student Succeeds Act only requires testing in reading and math. However, state funding is tied to the testing requirements. Therefore, our board has proposed using a private act, which I strongly support, allowing our county to use its own testing materials and format. What does make sense is to pretest, mid-test and post-test to actually measure student achievement, which we can accomplish internally with STAR 360 and Achieve 3000 and make those results known in the same year, so that teachers and students can use this data for the purpose of improvement without punitive measures.”   

In spite of TNReady issues, Armistead said students and teachers in Wilson County Schools have proven they are working hard and achieving results, especially through student ACT scores, which climbed from an average district-wide composite of 19.7 to 21.2 in the last four years with 99 percent of students participating the last two years. The county’s graduation rate of 95-96 percent in the last two years is one of the best in the state. 

Armistead also said she supports the digital technology plan, which will help keep our students on the cutting edge of future learning trends, and the 12.5 percent teacher pay raise to help bring our average teacher salary up to the state average.  

“Our teachers work hard to create a safe and challenging environment for learning, and they deserve our support,” she said.  

School board service requires advocating for the needs of all learners, responsiveness to constituents, support of school programs and governing through policy, Armistead said. It is important to establish a positive working relationship with the director of schools. The board is legally responsible for management of all school matters, employment, purchasing, budgets and assigning superintendent duties.  

“With my experience as an educator and a board member for four years, I feel I would be the best candidate to represent the needs of our students and continue to make educational excellence for each child a priority,” Armistead said. “I would appreciate your vote and support for the school board representative in Zone 4.”

Maurisa Pasick challenged Armistead for the Zone 4 seat on the Wilson County Board of Education in the Aug. 2 Wilson County General Election. Early voting will be July 13-28.

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