Election 2016: Rick Wimberly wants to promote student survival skills, smooth rezoning for District Nine


Election 2016: Rick Wimberly wants to promote student survival skills, smooth rezoning for District Nine

After four years of serving on the Williamson school board, Rick Wimberly is hoping to keep his District Nine seat for another term.

After four years of serving on the Williamson school board, Rick Wimberly is hoping to keep his District Nine seat for another term.

District Nine covers a vast amount of territory from Hillsboro Elementary to Winstead Elementary School.

Wimberly has been surrounded by educators in his family, from his dad’s superintendent seat to his wife teaching in the Williamson school system. Four of his children went through the local schools, with two of them now in education occupations.

The Grassland dad moved to Williamson County after a job transfer. After working in TV and radio for two decades, he transitioned to the president of Galain Solutions, Inc. which provides consulting services for emergency alerts.

He’s also on the Board of Trustees of the Education Foundation for Williamson County and was the founding chair. He also volunteers with the Boy Scout Troop 444 and served on the Parish Council for St. Philip Church.

In his spare time, he also helps with Destination Imagination, which promotes creative problem solving through an array of competitions.

He will run against Denise Boothby in the August election.

Rezoning is one of the first issues the new board will deal with together as the Nolensville schools open and Thompson’s Station’s is on the horizon. What’s your philosophy on school rezoning, grandfathering and the anticipation of future growth for rezoning.

It’s a fact of life in Williamson County, and it will continue to be. It’s complex, controversial and it’s difficult for families.

What we have to do is be as sensitive as possible, but at the same time, it’s doing what’s best for the county. Rezoning will continue as long as there is growth.

We don’t have a strong record of anticipating growth in the long term, but w know it’s coming based on population projections. There are 52 schools in the county including the Franklin Special School District. We cannot build 53 more schools – it simply will not happen. That means we will have to move people around.

This is a community problem, so we need full community engagement from not only local officials, but the community as a whole, even for people who don’t have kids in the schools. Everyone will be affected significantly, and the communities need to help us find a solution on how we are going to handle this.

What is your position on standardized testing – is there too much, too little?

We are currently doing too much, but there is a fine balancing act of what is too much for teachers to get sufficient input on their ability to teach properly.

What is your position on Common Core?

I supported the resolution that we passed. It said in effect that certain standards are necessary. However, the local districts need to have the ability to adapt to standards in a way that they are feel most appropriate for their communities.

What do you think of current state education standards?

First, I think it’s important to understand what a standard really is. It’s a guideline, and from that is a scope and sequence and lesson plans.

We have to rely on our educators to develop the proper scope and sequence and for the teacher to develop those plans tied to them. We have historically exceeded standards in our scope and sequence.

I’m proud of that and hope it continues.

Do you think world religions should be part of history or social studies curricula?

Of course, they are a part of history.

What is your opinion of the current state of WCS and the current leadership?

I think our schools are in excellent shape. We can obviously do better and clearly the leadership of the schools from our superintendent on down are constantly striving to make them stronger.

That’s something I am proud of, and the community is as well. There’s a fellow named Tony Waggoner. He’s an education guru, and he did a study on what survival skills do young people need to be effective in what’s down the road for them.

He came up with seven skills, but what that includes is helping prepare our students to be good thinkers and good doers through things such as critical thinking and creative problem solving and communication skills. We have a tremendous set of offerings of extracurriculars that work toward teaching skills.

After we renewed Dr. Looney’s contract, I asked, “What’s next?” That’s when he started telling me about his six big ideas, and those are tied in nicely to those seven concepts. Whatever is ahead, you have to start young. I think your typical educator is helping students with them, but there are so many pressures through excessive testing. What we do in a day, sometimes those pressures interfere with helping students develop these survival skills.

We, as a community, are aware and working toward solutions and must continue to do so.

What is the best thing about WCS?

The community involvement, without a doubt. We spend less per pupil on almost every school district in the nation, yet our results are superior. The reasons that is a fact is because of parents who are deeply engaged on a daily basis, and the quality of our professional staff which starts with Dr. Looney and permeates throughout the system. They are connected. People like to get engaged because they know they are working with top-notch educators.

What needs attention and what aspect of it could need adjustment?

Within the school system, it depends on what level you are talking about.

I am comfortable with Dr. Looney and his team, and what they are doing and their awareness to getting them done.

I am concerned that we as a school board have lost focus. I would like to see that change.

We need to focus on what really matters to the system and to the students. We need to avoid getting sidetracked. How do you deal with it? You acknowledge you need it, set a good example, and keep talking about it.

Emily West covers Franklin and Williamson County government and schools for Home Page Media Group. Contact her at emily@franklinhomepage.com. Follow her on Twitter via @emwest22.

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