Mid Bay News asked all Okaloosa County Commission and School Board Commission candidates to submit more information about themselves ahead of this Summer’s primary election.
All candidates were asked the two questions below:
Mid Bay News did not edit, alter or otherwise change the responses received from the candidates.
This Submission is from Okaloosa County Commission Candidate for District 3, Linda Evanchyk.
Niceville, Valparaiso, Bluewater Bay and Eglin Air Force Base Residents who are registered to vote regardless of party affiliation can vote in this election. This is a universal primary.
As many of our constituents know, I have invested 40 years of service to the students, teachers, and families of Okaloosa County, having served as a teacher and media specialist, a school principal at three of our schools (Laurel Hill K-12 School, Bruner Middle School, and Destin Middle School), and as an OCSD leader as Director of Curriculum, Assessment, & Instruction; as Director of Technology & Media Services; and as Director of Principal Training, Development & Support. I am certified in English/Communications, Social Studies, Gifted Studies, Media/Library Science, Educational Leadership, & School Principal. Additionally, I have taught at the college and university levels.
I have written and directed district leadership plans and grants to support those in at least two districts. I wrote (and was awarded) one of the first grants for distance learning for homebound students. I led the initiative to automate all of our school’s libraries, and building on the foundation of others supported by two assistant superintendents at the time, I licensed four channels and started our Instructional Television System for the district. I franchised and created Okaloosa Online under the direction and with the support of another of our outstanding assistant superintendents. I did none of this alone; I had great support and guidance along the way from those who mentored me and allowed me to put these things in motion for the benefit of our students. I have been honored to serve alongside some of the best district superintendents in this state.
I also own an educational consulting company, and since 2016 I have consulted in other districts (and a couple of other states). I have written more than 50 courses on school leadership and student achievement, and have presented them to numerous districts. Serving in this capacity, I have been able to share best practices in education across district lines. I believe that this has an impact on students across the panhandle, not just in my own.
In addition, I am passionate about the youth peer-to-peer suicide prevention program, the Hope Squad, because I believe that mental health is a critically important piece of not only the prevention of suicide, but in creating a culture of kindness and concern for others. I view all of these topics through the lens of creating a better future for everyone. These students are the future. They deserve our best. It’s not just a campaign slogan, I truly believe that “Stronger Schools create Stronger Communities”! I hope it is clear that I have lived my life investing in the young people who will be the best citizens of tomorrow that we can mold them into today.
I am honored by the fact that I have been endorsed by the Teachers’ and Support Personnel’s TIGER Group, and recommended by the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors as your School Board Member for District 5. I am honored to have support across this county from business and community leaders, teachers, support personnel, district directors, and former students!
Additionally, I think it is important to know that I have close working relationships with current area legislators. This is critical when advocating for education issues that are important for our geographic and political areas. Our students and teachers deserve a board member who can communicate professionally with these decision-makers. I have a long history of serving in that capacity. I even knew some of them when they were in previous positions and would come to speak to my classes. How awesome is that?
I receive the greatest joy in seeing my former students become successful in the various paths they have taken, and I love it when they say that they learned something from being in my class or on my Morning Show. I learned from them, too. I began my career as a young, passionate educator, and I remain that way today (though maybe not as young)!
I hope to retain some consistency on the school board by seeing through some of the initiatives that have been started in my first term in this office. I am thrilled that the citizens supported our half-cent sales tax initiative, and we are beginning to see dirt churned on many of those projects already. For instance, we held our ribbon-cutting for Bluewater Elementary School’s single point of entry this week, and you can see clearing and footings poured for several of our high schools’ new multipurpose buildings. It will be so thrilling to see every project on our campuses come to fruition. Our teachers and our students deserve this!
I am also a huge proponent of programs that enable students to find the niche that ignites their passion for life after school. I want to see them thrive, no matter if their goal is to enter the career field immediately, serve in the military, or attend a traditional college course of study. I plan to continue to support and help grow our program offerings in Career & Technical Education (such as our recent partnership with the local hospital for a new nursing program), certification programs (such as coding and artificial intelligence), I want to work with district staff to strengthen our guidance counselors’ initiatives to make students more keenly aware of the importance of entering ninth-grade with a plan for their high school years. They need to see early on how their course selection and elective choices could impact their scholarship and/or recruitment opportunities in their junior and senior years, when they cannot make corrections that late in their academic histories.
I want to continue to advocate at the legislative levels for those key pieces of legislation that have a great impact here, such as continuing to improve conditions that make the teaching profession attractive (like continuing to increase teacher pay—and assisting local districts in that effort), increasing funding for youth mental health programs, and holding parent information meetings so they have earlier access to the topics I have outlined above, as well as to enlist their help in controlling unhealthy and dangerous student behaviors like vaping, bullying, cyberbullying, and sexting. We must be partners and advocates together for our young people. No one entity can resolve these issues alone.
I will feel successful if we have put the measures in place that can continue to set Okaloosa students in the best position to be successful both while they are in our schools, and when they exit our schools to follow the paths they have determined for themselves. Their experiences with OCSD are critically impactful for their futures, and for ours.
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