By Amber Barker
There’s nearly nine decades of educational leadership experience between the Lincoln Parish School Board District 10 candidates, and both have their sights on continuing to prove the excellence of the school system they have grown to love should they be elected on Nov. 8.
The incumbent, Otha Anders, has served on the School Board since 1997 and been re-elected every four years since that appointment. He said he is hoping to finish his tenure by being re-elected in what would be his final allowable term due to the term limits.
“I am seeking re-election for District 10, but I am elected to serve the entire District for the benefit of all our children,” Anders said. “Although the term limit will keep me from serving on the board after this one, I will continue to be a lifelong educator and do anything I can to help continue to promote the quality education for students in Lincoln Parish – that’s my calling.”
Anders has been in the classroom in some capacity since the mid-1960s – teaching 5 years at Jasper Henderson in Chatham, and since 1970 at Weston High School in Weston, where his tenure included teacher, assistant principal, and most recently teacher and in-school suspension supervisor.
“I am seriously concerned about the welfare of our children, to the extent that I have dedicated the majority of my life to them,” Anders said. “I have an unshakeable conviction that every child is valuable, and every child can be successful.”
That’s a sentiment his opponent, Juan Hooper, shares.
“I want to encourage students to achieve greatness, no matter their socioeconomic background or their physical, emotional, mental background,” she said. “I want to be transparent. I am here to listen to students, parents, and stakeholders to help continue to support the wonderful education Lincoln Parish provides, prepare tomorrow’s leaders, and make sure all children are able to achieve their own greatness.”
It’s the lifelong ties to her community – growing up, working and being a minister in District 10 – as well as her ingrained desire to be an educator, that persuaded Hooper to run for election.
“I’m a native of Lincoln Parish, attended schools here, and they afforded me a wonderful education to experience opportunities due to what Lincoln Parish instilled in me, and I wanted to give back to the community,” said Hooper, who recalled her interest in education from age four. She worked for Monroe City Schools for 27 years, and since 2017 has served as education coordinator for Lincoln Parish Head Start Child Development Program.
“I’ve always known I wanted to be in education. I remember playing school, teaching my dolls, playing with friends, and always wanting to be the teacher,” she said. “I’ve been in education 32 years and have an interest in working with young children and families. I come from a long line of educators: my mother was an educator, her mother, her mother’s mother and father, cousins – education is in my blood.”
Both Hooper and Anders have already been busy on the campaign trail with contacting voters, handing out pamphlets and fliers, and yard signs, while also engaging with community leaders and stakeholders. Hooper is making a concerted effort to inform voters about her hopes for the future, and potentially educate some on what the School Board’s responsibilities are.
“I’ve been reaching out to some people in the areas of District 10 I do not know, and even the ones I do, to let them know what the school board actually does, including getting the right curriculum for students, keeping our students on the same playing ground as students in other states, and making sure every need of the students and teachers in the Parish is met,” she said. “We want to make sure their mental and physical health is taken care of and that students are receiving the best education possible.”
Anders is hoping his track record of success propels him to re-election and ends with Lincoln Parish being deemed the best of the best.
“I’ve helped to keep the board unified, as we work toward the goal of making Lincoln Parish #1 in the state,” Anders said. “We have moved up to #2 in the state, and I want to continue the goal until we are #1.”
To report an issue or typo with this article – CLICK HERE