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Kelly Marlow: We Must "End the Political Posturing and Work Together"

The charter school advocate sets her sights on what she'd like to achieve during her first term on the Cherokee County School District.

Kelly Marlow is preparing for her first term on the Cherokee County School Board. Marlow was elected in the July Republican primary to the Post 1 seat, which was created during the reapportionment process.

The new district includes the BridgeMill, parts of Sixes Road and Holly Springs and portions of the Toonigh and Univeter areas.

Marlow received a bachelor's degree from the University of Georgia and before becoming a full-time parent, she worked as a project manager in the health care, technology and alternative energy sectors. She's also worked as a preschool teacher, a substitute teacher, a room parent and a PTA leader.

Marlow, who lives in BridgeMill with husband Mark and her twin children, has also served on the boards of several local charitable organizations, coached youth sports and volunteered in the community.

She noted she's been endorsed by the American Federation for Children and earlier this year, she received the 2012 Power to the Parents Award from the Georgia Charter Schools Association.

Marlow was a staunch advocate for the Cherokee Charter Academy, where her two children attend school. She also supported the charter school amendment, which Georgia voters approved last November. 

Marlow completed the Disney Marathon in 2010 and has raced in other area half-marathons and triathlons. She also spends time mountain biking with her children at Blankets Creek Mountain Bike Trails. 

Marlow discussed with Patch her plans over the next four years.

1. Now that the dust has settled, how do you feel about starting this new position?

I am blessed to have met countless hard-working, tax-paying citizens in Cherokee County who care deeply about the future for our children and grandchildren. I share in their patriotism, passion and desire for bold leadership. I am proud to be elected to represent the voters of the new District 1 and I’d like to reinforce my commitment to delivering on the vision we laid out together this summer. Cherokee County is a truly unique hometown community and my husband, Mark and I are proud to raise our two children here.

2. What are some of your major goals you'd like to achieve? Are there any issues you want to specifically bring up?

As a policymaker, I plan to conduct a robust, ongoing open dialogue on the issues facing our schools. There is much work to be done including taking more than a cursory look at our financial priorities, improving the strategic planning process, and increasing education options.  During our school board meeting with the Cherokee legislative delegation on Dec. 6th, we outlined several promising new priorities to address the needs of the children in Cherokee County. In these uncertain economic times, we must find ways to end the political posturing and work together to prioritize the classroom with the dollars that are available. 

3. What challenges do you think you face as an elected official? 

Clearly the foremost issue is funding, not that we necessarily have a lack of funding, but that we spend the limited funds we do have appropriately. As elected officials we must be leaders. It is our job to find ways to work together to prioritize the classroom.  I have been elected to help build a world-class educational system, that is not a go-it-alone exercise of the public educational system separate from our community, but rather a true partnership between parents, teachers, administrators, lawmakers, businesses and the wider community. It is also one of my top goals to improve the communications of the school system with the community at large. We must work on invigorating that partnership so that all of the stakeholders are involved and engaged in helping form the next generation of families and employees in Cherokee County.

4. What are you looking forward to the most?

I look forward to simply getting started. I have worked for several months researching and investigating how and why school systems make the decisions they do and now I am ready to get down to work. One of the areas I really want to focus on is technology, which is ever-changing. I look forward to finding ways to collaborate, inspire and educate each other on how we can increase the utilization of technology as a tool for improving education and offering alternative learning environments tailored to the needs of individual students. 

5. What do you think are some challenges facing Cherokee County School District and what are some specifics you want to do to address those challenges?

For our students to graduate and compete in the global marketplace, our educational systems must be as diverse in instructional environments as we are in the students who attend our schools. Our challenge will be to balance the need for diverse instruction and innovation with cost-containment measures that will responsibly ensure delivery of topics relevant in the 21st century.  For instance, I’d like to utilize the power and influence of our multidisciplinary school councils to uncover ways to engage our business community in public/private partnerships that are both educationally and philanthropically meaningful. Why not consider a pilot program whereby a local bank opens a branch in one of our high schools so that students can learn and work at the same time?

6. Are there any smaller, less pressing issues you want to address?

No issue a citizen has is small or less pressing especially when it comes from an engaged parent. That being said, prioritization is important because our system is so complex and vital to the success of our community. That is why I chose to dedicate myself full-time to my position on the Board, so that I can make consensus-driven, timely and informed decisions.  To help find the consensus and make those informed decisions, I have set aside three hours each Thursday to meet with constituents and concerned citizens we are calling “Coffee with Kelly”.  The details of which can be found once I take office at www.kellyforourschools.com.

7. What do you hope to take away from this experience? 

When I look back on my first term I hope that I see partnerships and relationships have formed where we work from common areas of agreement and where we foster respect for all that serve our community. I hope that as my children enter middle and high school, I can point to the changes made and areas bolstered that give them the opportunity to compete in the world job market.

8. What do you want voters to know about you?

I don’t hide behind labels nor do I shy away from an emphasis on breaking molds, celebrating innovation and challenging status quo. It is abundantly clear that no elected official arrives to take office on her own, so I continue to express my gratitude to my incredibly loyal family and friends who support our common goal of a community united.

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