District parents Stanlen Green and Jennifer Applebee are the candidates for Ward 2 of the Deer Creek Schools Board, but only one is willing to answer questions about their run for office. While Green agreed to be interviewed for this article, Applebee said she was “not interested” in speaking about her candidacy.
With the district’s Ward 2 incumbent not seeking reelection, Deer Creek voters will choose between Green and Applebee on their April 5 election ballot.
Green retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in 2011 after being wounded in Afghanistan in 2008, and he currently works for a small aviation company. He lists stopping political indoctrination in the classroom, limiting administrative overhead and preserving the district’s scholastic and athletic excellence as platform points on his campaign website.
“I want to do this to help people,” Green said. “I want to do everything I can to help the parents, students and teachers. Then I want to hand it over to the next parent and let the next parent go in and do their thing and support them.”
Applebee’s campaign website says she is a certified paraprofessional with training in a number of areas, including holistic health, life coaching, entrepreneurial business development and religious studies.
Beyond refusing to be interviewed for this article, Applebee also reportedly declined to answer a series of seven questions asked of herself and Green in the Deer Creek Parent Legislative Action Committee Facebook group. Questions included, “Describe the kind of relationships you want to have with your fellow board members” and “How can Deer Creek continue to successfully manage the growth of the district with limited funding?”
Polls will be open Tuesday, April 5, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
‘I want to be an advocate for parents’
Green said there doesn’t appear to be a lot of interaction between the district’s parents and the school board currently, something he hopes to change if elected. He said one-on-one conversations with people are important.
“I feel like parents don’t always get the feedback,” Green said. “Maybe some of that is just parents not getting the feedback they want, so then they say they don’t get any feedback, but I think there might need to be a little bit more transparency.”
Green said he realizes you cannot please every constituent all the time and that he and other board members will have disagreements. However, he said people should be able to talk through their differences to make the best decisions for Deer Creek students, teachers and community members.
“I want to be an advocate for parents,” Green said. “I don’t care about your political leanings. I don’t care about any of that. We’re all people, and we’re all going to have a different opinion. We can have a conversation.”
Addressing the teacher shortage
Green also expressed concern about the state’s teacher shortage. He said he envisions a pilot program for the district that involves working with local universities to create a teacher pipeline by allowing education students to teach in the classroom starting their junior or senior years.
“If you could start doing that, I think you would help both the universities and the schools,” Green said. “They get a trial run with, say, Deer Creek Schools, to see if that’s the school system they want to be in. They’ll know upon graduation that they’ve already developed a relationship with the faculty and staff there. So after graduation, they walk right into Deer Creek Schools and they’re familiar with our program, our curriculum and everything, because they’ve been there for the last year.”
Green said this would help school districts with planning, as they’d know how many recent education graduates they should expect to receive from a given university.
“It starts giving them numbers they can play with so they can start having a plan for growth, new schools, for substitutes and everything else,” Green said.
He said it’s also important to set Deer Creek Schools up for the future by planning for the next five to 10 years, in addition to focusing on current issues.
“I’ve had meetings with [Superintendent Jason] Perez, and I think there’s a lot of good stuff that we can do here,” Green said. “I haven’t done this before. I haven’t been up here for 20 years. I’m not jaded. I don’t have an agenda, I guess. I just want to do what I can to help people.”