Vandy Kemp

Age: 67

Political affiliation: Democrat (unopposed)

Occupation: I am a retired educator and in addition to my work in several community organizations, I am also a lead consultant with Prosper & Partners LLC, a national consulting firm that focuses on matters of diversity, inclusion and equity.

Brief Biographical Info: I grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and graduated from Radford University with a focus on sociology and music education. I married and moved to East Tennessee, where I worked for several years as the youth and music director at Alcoa First United Methodist Church. I completed a master’s degree in educational psychology, administration and supervision at UT Knoxville and spent 34 years with Sevier County Schools, Blount County Schools and Maryville College. I have a daughter, Janet Beard, who is an author and is married to a professor at Ohio State University, and a precious granddaughter. I am a member of New Providence Presbyterian Church, the American Association of University Women, and the League of Women Voters of Blount County. I serve on the boards of Haven House Domestic Violence Services, 91.9 WUOT Public Radio and the Friends of the Library.

Why are you running for this position?: My life’s work has been centered on education. My mother was a teacher, and I grew up steeped in the belief that democracy is what makes America great and public education is what ensures a robust democracy. I believe that access to high-quality education experiences is essential for a community’s quality of life and equity for all. Blount County Schools offers a remarkable range of educational programs and opportunities to meet the full range of interests, talents, needs and potential of its students, but any enterprise can be better. I want to help BCS move forward.

What relevant experience do you have?: I have been a high school music teacher, school counselor, assistant principal and principal. At Maryville College, I served as director of the Learning Center, assistant dean for academic affairs and vice president and dean of students. My academic discipline has focused on educational psychology or how children and youth learn best as well as educational leadership or how to best manage resources to provide the best teaching and learning experiences. I have also served as chair, vice chair and secretary of several local and regional nonprofit boards and leadership teams throughout the past three decades, bringing a wealth of experience about strategic planning, community needs and fiscal and personnel management.

Why should voters elect you?: First, I understand the importance of quality public education to children, their parents and their community, and I am fully committed to making sure our students and teachers are able to do their best work in our schools.

Second, I will work hard. And I am able at this point in my life to dedicate time and energy to doing so. Although I may be more knowledgeable than most about factors involved in public education, I also know that there are topics and issues I must learn more about. I promise to do what is necessary to be a useful, engaged, and effective school board member.

Third, I have observed for decades the divisiveness and distrust that often exist between school boards and their local governing bodies. I will do what I can to be a knowledgeable and trustworthy partner not only to my peers on the Board of Education but to the commissioners who serve Blount County. That will require open, candid and creative discussions with members of both groups as we pursue the same goal: providing the best possible education to the children of Blount County.

What makes you different from the other candidates for office?: I am running unopposed for this position, so District 2 voters don’t have an alternative. While it troubles me that no one else from my district is willing to enter this election, I recognize the tremendous opportunity I have to step up and contribute my skills, values and knowledge to the community I have called home for 30 years. There is no other candidate or school board member who cares more about the day-to-day experiences of Blount County’s students and teachers.

For every local election, The Daily Times reaches out to candidates with a questionnaire asking them a variety of questions about their personal lives, professional and political experiences and reasons for running for office. Candidate profiles were provided by the candidates. They are listed by alphabetical order. In instances where candidates exceeded the maximum word counts, reply was edited for consistency.

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