Life-long educator Champ Hardie is stumping for the Ridgeway District seat on the Henry County School Board in the November election.
Hardie, 69, is challenging incumbent Sidney McClure for the post.
Hardie said he decided to run because of his burning desire to help the students of Henry County to the best of his ability.
“I just have a burning desire to help my former students because they have children in school now, and some of them have grandchildren in school now,” he said.
“I think by being on the school board, through my experience as a teacher for 40 years and a sub for six, I know what we need to do in order to make our school system more and more effective, and improve it more than what it is now,” he said.
Hardie said serving on the school board is one of the most important responsibilities a person can undertake, because members set standards and make decisions that will affect generations of students.
One goal he wants to accomplish is to make the school system as safe as possible.
“Education should be fun, the students should not fear or be worried about something that might happen to them at school. So, we need to make our school system as safe as possible,” he said.
He also believes the division needs to prepare the students to work in the world 10 to 15 years in the future.
“It will change quite a bit in the future, so” we have to “make sure they are career ready to get out of the school,” he said.
Hardie said he wants to ensure the division’s personnel, especially its teachers, are compensated fairly.
“I believe school teachers work hard and they deserve fair compensation. I’ve went by Drewry Mason (school) and saw teachers working over there 6 to 7 hours at night. School teaching is not an 8-hour job, sometimes it’s a 14–16-hour job,” he said.
Hardie also plans to work with the parents by attending Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) meetings, talking to parents outside of school, and meeting with them at community events.
“Parents are one of the keys in order to make sure our students come to school prepared and are ready to learn,” he said.
Hardie said he believes the school board should talk to its legislators and the board of supervisor members and encourage them to fund these ideas, especially those involving school safety.
“The main thing is we need to encourage at the state level to fund our schools at a greater and higher rate. The lower level is doing about all it can do right now,” he said.
If elected, Hardie plans to be open with the public. While he notes there are a few things the board will need to take its time to discuss before making it public, like safety issues, Hardie “wants the public to know what we are doing at all times.”
Hardie said the school board has to involve residents in the decision-making process. He noted his plans for transparency also will assist with public involvement.
“A lot of my decisions will be based on what the parents feel is best for their children. Because no child is more important than another child. They should all be treated equally,” he said.
A lifelong resident of Ridgeway, he graduated from Drewry Mason High School in 1974. He earned a B.S. in Agricultural Education from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and received an M.A. degree in Career and Technical Education.
Hardie taught at Drewry Mason for 12 years before Henry County consolidated the schools in 1988. He then taught at Drewry Mason Middle School until 2004 where he transferred to Laurel Park Middle School, where he taught Agriculture Science. He retired in 2016 but continues to work as a substitute teacher.
In his spare time, Hardie enjoys physical fitness and has participated in more than 220 5k competitions.