By T. Scott Boatright
The Lincoln Parish School Board District 7 race features incumbent Hunter Smith, currently winding down his first term, being challenged by Ginny Canterbury.
Smith was born and raised in Ruston and is a 1999 graduate of Ruston High School who earned his degree in education in 2007. He has been vice president and managing partner of Hunter Energy, LLC (a more than 40-year-old Oil and Gas Land Service Company) since 2005 and is also a Louisiana and Arkansas real estate agent with United Country – Southern States Realty based in McComb, Mississippi.
Canterbury grew up in Ruston, and attended Hillcrest, I.A. Lewis, Ruston Junior High, graduating in 1992. She then enrolled at LSU, and then returned home and finished with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Louisiana Tech as a Magna Cum Laude graduate. She has worked for the state of Louisiana serving people with special needs, for private companies in various roles (such as QA manager and Director of various programs), owned a small business in Ruston and is currently a realtor with Graham Real Estate and Property Management.
Smith said he is seeking reelection to continue the work he has been a part of for the last three-and-a-half years.
“I have strived to work as part of a cohesive unit along with support from all stakeholders in the community and to serve my community by trying to give back to a school system that has given so much to me and many others,” Smith said. “I want to ensure that our schools continue to be some of the best in Louisiana not only now, but for years to come “I was encouraged by many stakeholders in our community 3.5 years ago to run and have been encouraged again by many of the same stakeholders and many new ones as well to seek reelection.”
Smith said the biggest challenges facing Louisiana education today are a lack of highly-qualified and highly-effective educators.
“Lincoln Parish has some of the best but we need to exhaust all efforts to find ways to recruit and retain HQ/HE educators in our system,” Smith said. “Parental/home Involvement is important. Too many of our children don’t have the support systems at home to hold them accountable in order to be their best.
“The negative impacts of social media are another concern. Far too many people are using Social Media to continue to be a part of existing problems instead of engaging in real conversations and finding real solutions.”
Smith said he doesn’t have a true campaign platform, but that he’s doing this for the three sons he has attending Lincoln Parish Schools.”
“I don’t have a campaign platform, but I do have a platform that I try very hard to live by everyday — Work Hard, Be Nice and do the Right Thing,” Smith said.
As the parent of a child attending a Lincoln Parish School, Canterbury a big reason for her run at the position is to say “in the know” of goings on within the school system.
“I feel that we should have a voice in what is happening with our children at all times,” Canterbury said. “With an elected representative, we should have a direct voice to our decision-makers on the Lincoln Parish School Board. I would like to be that person for our district. I will listen to the people in my district, and I will speak on their behalf.”
Canterbury said class size is one of her biggest concerns about the school system.
“Class-size is a big issue for me with our school system,” she said. “For this reason alone, one of my children does not fit into our public school system. He simply needs a smaller class size and for a teacher to be able to pay more attention to his particular needs. He is not as eager about school as my other student who does attend public school, and that’s okay. No two children are exactly the same. I will do what I think is best for both of my children, and I will never let anything “political” take over my judgment as their mother.
“When we talk about some of these issues with our public school system, we often hear ‘well, there are just too many numbers for us to be able to do anything about that.’ I believe there are better ways. We just have to work together to find solutions. I think quite a few parents feel this way about class-size, as well as the safety of their children in such a large environment, and this is why they seek out alternate options to our public school system.”
Canterbury feels the circumstances she deals with will make her a good member of the school board.
“I would love to try and overcome some of these barriers for all of our children,” Canterbury said. “My situation, of having children in different school systems, actually benefits me as a school board representative, because I have different perspectives on how two different school systems operate, and what things may or may not work in each system.”
Canterbury said that if she is elected, being a true representative of all of District 7 will be her goal.
“I want to be able to bring my experience as a parent, a problem-solver, and an advocate to the Lincoln Parish School Board as District 7’s School Board member,” Canterbury said. “I will represent the people of my district to the absolute best of my ability, and will work with the entire School Board to build an even better school system.
“Ultimately, it is about our children, and we must work together to help our children achieve their full potential.”
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