Jean Kennedy runs for third term on Rowan-Salisbury school board

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 8, 2018

SALISBURY — Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education member Jean Kennedy said she almost decided not to run for re-election this year. Kennedy, who has represented a special district for two four-year terms, said some minor health problems made her question seeking a third.

“To be completely honest, my husband encouraged me to file for another term,” she said. “… Having him tell me to file was the only impetus I needed.”

Kennedy is a retired educator and Rowan County local who graduated from Dunbar High School and earned her degree from Livingstone College.

Kennedy, 74, holds the board’s sixth seat, which represents special areas including East Spencer and parts of Salisbury.

If re-elected, Kennedy said student achievement will be her top priority.

“The current momentum our system has should continue with our emphasis on rigorous, innovative and engaging strategies to produce competent and confident individuals who are well-equipped to compete in a global society,” she said.

But there are a few other issues she plans to fight for, including adequate state funding and better pay for school employees.

“Although the Rowan County commissioners continue to improve their financial support of our schools, the state legislature chooses to divert funding to other areas,” Kennedy said in an email. “Whenever I go to a specialist in another profession, I am expected to pay a higher co-payment than the professional who referred me receives. However, an educator with higher credentials and a classified employee with advanced training are not duly compensated. It is indeed sad that the individuals who impact our most precious resources are not deemed worthy of higher compensation.”

Kennedy said she thinks the opportunity to become a renewal district is an incredible opportunity.

“I am very excited about the profound, ultimate impact that restarts and renewal will have on the lives of our children. A teacher-led redesign approach to learning for a diverse student population should contribute greatly to higher student achievement,” she said.

One of the keys to pulling off a renewal district — or other difficult and new ideas — will lie in communication.

“The biggest issue our district faces is convincing parents and the community that we must be courageous enough to pursue new avenues of learning,” she said. “To do so, we must develop a sound, convincing narrative that will clearly explain how we plan to embark on a path that might involve some risk taking. However, we must also assure these individuals that our course will be carefully monitored and evaluated along the way.”

Kennedy is married to Royal Lee Kennedy, and the couple have three grown daughters. Kennedy also has one grandchild.

She is a member of the Livingston College National Alumni Association, Dunbar High Alumni Association and Livingstone College UNCF Planning Committee. She attends Southern City AME Zion Church.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.