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School board District 4 candidate profiles
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Beth Helmly

Age: 59
Family: husband, Jimmy Helmly; children, Katie Whitten and J.C. Helmly (both married); grandson, Lucas Whitten.
Occupation: retired educator
Place of birth/how long you have lived in Effingham County: born in Savannah; lived in Effingham all my life (did go off for college in Newberry, S.C.)
Previous political experience and other elective offices you may have sought: ran for superintendent of schools in the early 1990s.
Why I’m running:
I want to ensure that all students are provided with an educational experience that will allow them to become productive members of society. It is very important to me that we instill in our students the same traditional values that made America great. I will work to preserve those values and serve students, parents and all educators in Effingham County. My experience and background will allow me to be a knowledgeable voice for parents, students, teachers, administrators and school support personnel.
Top three objectives for the next four years:
• Maintain a strong, safe environment to educate children
• Retain and hire personnel who have the talent, knowledge and passion for education; remove those who do not.
• With the continuous impact of testing, accountability guidelines and changes to standards, it is vital to me that we discern what changes we allow to affect our students and teachers and which changes we block.

Faith Jaudon

Age: 48
Family: Married to deWayne Jaudon. Children: Kristen Jones, C.J. Balding, Cameron Balding, Timothy Jaudon, Tiffany Jaudon and Michael Westfall. Grandchildren: Laura Grace, Ali, “Boogie,” Joshua, Jonas, Jackson, Ella, Harper and Amelia. Daughters-in-law: Kelli, Lauren, Stephanie and Ashley.
Occupation: UGA-certified beekeeper, owner/operator of The Vintage Bee Farm, and a 4-H program assistant for Effingham County Extension.
Place of birth/how long you have lived in Effingham County: Bulloch County is home, and I have lived in Effingham County approximately 18 years.
Previous political experience and other elective offices you may have sought: None previous.
Why I’m running:
With revelation comes responsibility. For one to know the truth and simply do nothing is gravely irresponsible, especially when it involves our children. I have a mandate from God upon my life that I can’t ignore, one that compels me to get up and do something! It’s important to me that the legacy I leave my grandchildren is one of valor and integrity. They must know that I tried to make a positive difference in the lives of their generation, despite the obstacles. In the words of Corrie Ten Boom, “It’s not my ability, but my response to God’s ability that counts.”
Top three objectives for the next four years:
Curriculum: As part of the Race to the Top program, billions upon billions of dollars was earmarked inside of the Obama administration’s “stimulus package” set aside for education and marketed as Common Core, and much of its content is rotten to the core. Our federal government was deeply involved in persuading states to adopt such curriculum, stating if they should refuse to adopt the Common Core way of life, they would not be awarded the federal grant. During a time of deep recession, few states were willing to forego the chance at federal money, regardless of the strings attached. Unfortunately, what appeared to be a “federal favor” has turned our children into lab rats and robots. Our federal government’s reasoning behind such curriculum would suggest a need to “nationalize” our curriculum, among other bogus reasons, when in reality it’s about control and money. Unfortunately, Georgia was one of many states that drink the red Kool-Aid, and what a high price we’ve paid. Our teachers have been diminished to test facilitators, our classrooms to Praxis labs, and our administrators to data miners. It’s sad to say that most parents have no idea what their kids’ curriculum is about, or the steps to take in an effort to find out. We need “common sense,” not “Common Core.”
Teachers: Let’s face it, our teachers are overwhelmed. They cannot teach if they are wearing straightjackets. The expectations placed upon them are beyond unrealistic, as they are forced to do more, but with less. Less of everything: less authority, less money, less time, less rights, less parental support and less God-given freedom to use their giftedness within the classroom, just to name a few. Many fear losing their jobs should they express their views regarding the excessive testing, assessments and curriculum. Our teachers need encouragement. They need to know the community, as well as the administration supports their efforts, not fear they’ll abort their efforts.
Children: As a former substitute teacher, and currently a 4-H program assistant, I witness on a daily basis the emotional, mental, physical and, yes, spiritual condition of Effingham County’s children. It makes my heart break to see children enslaved by circumstances beyond their control. Children of all ages in every school within this county are crying out for help. They manifest behavior issues that range from self-mutilation to suicide, ugly words nobody wants to talk about. Please allow me the liberty to say, “Medication isn’t a cure-all,” although I am very aware there are those situations that would require such treatment. The truth of the matter is … our kids are in desperate need for unconditional love, acceptance and support in every way. We need mentors who are willing to sacrifice their time and efforts to show these kids the way out of a dark place. To encourage, and lead by example. Those citizens who are willing to volunteer their time to become servants, to run for an elected office, and bring positive change to a lost and dying world.

Ben Johnson

Age: 40
Family: Married to Shannon Pastrano Johnson; three children, Maggie, 6, McKenzie, 11, and Trevan, 14; live in Springfield and attend the First Baptist Church of Springfield.
Occupation: Employed with Georgia Timber Exports. Owned and operated Poppy’s BBQ in Springfield until recently, deciding to change the business to catering only.
Place of birth/how long you have lived in Effingham County: Born in Columbia, S.C., have lived in Effingham County 30-plus years, attended Effingham County public schools and Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.
Previous political experience and other elective offices you may have sought: First attempt for an elective office.
Why I’m running:
I had considered running for the school board position in 2010 but would never run against Mr. Mose Mock, whom I respect and admire, and knew he would do a good job. With the resignation of Mr. Mock, and after a lot of prayers and family discussions I decided now was the right time.
I can promise you without hesitation I will listen. You will be able to reach me when you need me.
Decisions made by our school board are far-reaching. I will always make my decisions fact-based, well-researched and unbiased. It would be an honor and privileged to represent the citizens of the Fourth District on the Effingham County School Board.
Top three objectives for the next four years:
My No. 1 priority is our students. There is a need for a parent on our school board with children currently in our school system. You bring a different perspective than someone who does not. This fall our children will be in elementary (first grade), middle (seventh grade) and high school (ninth grade). This will give me a bird’s-eye view of our education system at work. I want a great education for all our students so they are provided with the knowledge necessary for a bright future when they leave Effingham County public schools. I am confident I can help make it happen.
Second priority is our teachers. Teachers have a hard, and sometimes, thankless, job. We have many really good teachers and staff members working diligently to ensure that our students are armed with the education to compete in today’s world. We need to keep them. Our educators must be given with tools and support to accomplish this goal.
“Third, but not least, I want an ongoing dialogue with parents and educators so everyone will be on the same page when it comes not only to our students’ education but challenges students face, academically and personally.
Remember, our children are the hope of the future.

Amanda Phillips

Age: 35
Spouse: Brian Phillips
Children: two daughters, Gracie, 7, and Lilee, 4
Occupation: Stay-at-home mom, YMCA swim team coach, local business sales representative, six years as a local business manager
Place of birth/how long you have lived in Effingham County:
Birth: Lancaster, Pa.
Years in Effingham: 12 wonderful years
Previous political experience and other elective offices you may have sought: N/A
Why I’m running:
I am running because the students are our No. 1 priority. As a transplanted resident, I can be an unbiased and objective voter. Like everyone else with students in the Effingham County public schools, I am a stakeholder in the system. The difference is, I am willing to put myself out in the forefront to try and make a difference in our students’, families’ and educators’ lives. My work and life experiences have me well-prepared for the tasks that lie ahead and I am eager to get started.
Top three objectives for the next four years:
1. To take a positive and proactive approach to budgeting so resources can be tailored to provide the best results and touch the educational lives of our students.
2. Setting and providing incentives and consequences to improve performance at all levels.
3. Finding new ways of approaching old problems, then analyzing the results. Addressing our shortcomings and taking our children to the top by providing the best opportunities for learning and success.