Voters in the Fort Mill School District are going to have to do their homework this year. Picking new school board members is a multiple choice question, with a growing list of options.
As of Friday afternoon, nine people had filed for four Fort Mill School Board seats set to open this fall. Candidates can add their names to the list through Aug. 15.
The first to file was Celia McCarter. The mother of five current or recent district students, McCarter has more than a decade of experience serving in parent leadership roles at the school and district levels. She is a board member with Foundation for Fort Mill Schools, has chaired Dancing With the Stars events to benefit district athletics and worked with several school improvement councils.
“I have been a strong supporter of our school board members and enjoyed serving with them on various district-wide committees,” McCarter said.
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When she learned two board members — Diane Dasher and Patrick White — wouldn’t seek reelection, McCarter saw an opportunity.
“I immediately began thinking about how my unique skill set will positively impact student education in my role as a school board member,” McCarter said. “My only regret is that I will not have the honor of serving with either of them on the board.”
McCarter moved to the area in 2003. She and her husband own Classic Cotillion, where they teach students character and social skills. She has a passion for educating students, which includes school district work.
“The core of the public education system is to provide effective teachers who instill the love of life-long learning in their students while preparing all children to reach their greatest potential.”
If teachers are key to district goals, candidate Hazel Frick could be a fit for the board. The long-time Fort Mill Elementary School teacher retired after more than three decades in education.
Frick taught fifth grade dating back to when Fort Mill Elementary was located at what is now part of Fort Mill High School — when it was the only elementary school in the district. She served various roles at the school, including as school improvement council chair.
“I absolutely know what goes on in those classrooms,” Frick said. “I know what the children need. I know what the teachers need. I know the expectations of the students.”
Frick said she has a vested interest in school district performance, on both ends.
“My grandson is beginning kindergarten,” she said. “Secondly, I invested 36 years of my life in the Fort Mill School District. I just want to make sure it continues with the high quality of education that it’s always given children.”
Her experience includes writing language arts, math and social studies curriculum. She sat on numerous boards, committees and improvement councils. Since her retirement, Frick often gets current teachers who want to speak with her about issues they face in schools.
“I thought these teachers really need a voice on the school board,” she said. “Of course the children will always be first.”
Marianne Koehl is no stranger to schools, or to work with children. According to her campaign page online, she has children at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Koehl is a nurse who has worked in hospitals across the country, including with parents of special needs children relying on Medicaid, connecting families to community services.
“A vote for me is a vote for your child’s best opportunity for success in school and in life,” reads her campaign announcement.
Terrin Boddie twice ran for a school board seat, first in 2014 on a platform of opposing Common Core, emphasizing teaching compared to standardized testing and small class sizes despite population growth within the district. Two years ago she ran on growth management and budgeting.
Boddie is the mother of eight children and and a former small business owner.
Christine Dayton also filed. She lives in Tega Cay and has three children. She works as a copywrighter, editor and content strategist and formerly worked in social services in Mecklenburg County, N.C. She has been a frequent volunteer in the four district schools where her children go.
“In each school, I have made it a priority to volunteer, support our teachers and administrators and provide various levels of support to our PTOs and PTAs,” Dayton said.
While she believes schools are excellent and the current board has served well, Dayton sees hers as a fresh voice to help the district reach new heights.
“I am a trained communicator and embrace the opportunity to empower my community and improve lives,” she said. “I believe that strong leadership is necessary to guide decision making and keep our communities strong.”
Through community service inside and outside of local schools, Dayton and her family look to improve their community.
“We love Fort Mill and feel fortunate to be raising our children in such a strong community with exceptional schools,” she said.
Several more candidates, including incumbents Wayne Bouldin and Michele Branning along with Andrew Markners and Brian Murphy, announced plans to run ahead of the official filing period. All since made it official, filing with the county elections office.
Anyone still wanting to file has until noon Aug. 15 to do it. More information is available at scvotes.org or on the county registration and elections page.
Check back for updates.