A longtime member of the Forsyth County Board of Education says his experience is a reason for voters to keep him in the seat going forward.
Incumbent District 2 Board of education member Tom Cleveland, who was first elected to the seat in 2004, will face fellow Republican Barry Herrin in the June 9 primary for the seat. With no Democrat running in the fall, the winner will be the next member of the board for District 3.
Cleveland said he has lived in Forsyth County for 15 years and originally got involved with local schools when his sons were attending Big Creek Elementary School.
“I've seen a lot of great things happen,” Cleveland said. “I never thought that I would enjoy being on the school board because I wasn't that student who loved school, so as I moved forward in this work, I see changes being made to where students are now being engaged with things that are happening at school and they want to learn, they want to be there, so that's been the drive that I have, to change the next generation.”
According to Cleveland, Superintendent Jeff Bearden tells all new hires that working in the system that they are always moving forward or backward but never standing still, an outlook Cleveland said he and other board members share.
“For me, I'm always looking forward,” he said. “In fact, most of the time, our discussions are around five or six years ahead of where we are today. Yeah, we have to react to what's going on today, but then we look forward and put strategies in place and thinking and start moving, and I think that's why we were so well-prepared for this who COVID-19 pandemic. We had set things in place to where online learning was not something new in Forsyth County.”
Along with looking to new technologies, Cleveland said he is also proud that during his time on the board, members have worked for more individualized approaches to educate students.
“While I've been on for 16 years, it seems just like yesterday we started working on some of these initiatives,” Cleveland said, “things like the STEM Academy, the whole Alliance [Academy] we just opened up. It's a vision I had back in the day when we had these career pathways and really supported that as we started to develop it and really put some good leadership in place there and watched it grow to where students can pick their own pathway.”
Cleveland was raised in DeKalb County, previously ran a private Christian school in Stone Mountain and works in HR technology and processes.
He is also an active member of the Forsyth County Republican Party, Forsyth County Drug Awareness Council, Citizen Emergency Response Team (CERT), Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES), Citizen Law Enforcement Academy (CLEA) and several non-profit organizations.
More information about Cleveland and his campaign are available at TomCleveland.net.