Knoxville Performing Arts Center

The Knoxville Performing Arts Center as seen on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021.

KNOXVILLE — Bullying, staff shortages and poverty were amongst some of the issues explored during the Knoxville School Board Candidate Forum on Wednesday.

Inside the Knoxville Performing Arts Center, the four candidates for the Knoxville School Board sat on top of stage to answer a list of questions related to the position. The election will be on Nov. 2

There are two seats currently open for the board. The candidates for the election are Jason Everly, Monica Sullivan, Dave Woodcock, and Larry Scott, the one incumbent contender.

Larry Scott

Scott currently serves as Vice President for the Knoxville School Board, which he has already been involved with for several years. While the Board has completed several projects since Scott has been involved, he said “we’re not done yet.”

Scott’s family moved to Knoxville in 1981, where he first worked as a teacher for the school district. All of Scott’s children graduated from Knoxville High School, and he currently has a grandson attending as a freshman.

“This is quite the motivation for me right there, to make sure that they have what I consider to be the best education they can get,” Scott said. “There's a lot of pride in our graduates in this school system, and there's a lot of kids who come back and they want to raise their children in the school system.”

Scott has been involved with education for his entire life, from attending school to his first teaching job in Washington, Missouri.

“When you're teaching students, and those who have had me as a teacher know this, you become one of my kids,” Scott said. “That’s what I'm working for, the students and working for their betterment, working for their success, working for their happiness.”

Monica Sullivan

Sullivan and her family have lived in Knoxville for the past 24 years, and her kids have attended the Knoxville school district for the past 18 years. She currently works as the Director of Advisory Services and a Partner for TDT CPAs and Advisors.

Sullivan said she was motivated to run due to the “tremendous growth” of the schools, not only in student numbers but in facilities. She also wants to do more in preparing students for life after high school and helping them figure out the correct path.

“We’ve got a lot of projects that are underway and a lot more that are maybe being planned for the coming years, and I want to make sure that we're doing it in a financially responsible way,” Sullivan said. “I think we need to do a little bit better in getting them ready as parents, as well as just as a district, making sure that they're ready.”

Having a strong financial background and experience leading a business, Sullivan said she understands how school finances work and knows how to collaborate with others similar to a school board meeting.

“In our business, we operate as a board and we have to make a lot of decisions that not everyone is in agreement with,” Sullivan said. “We've learned to listen to other people's opinions, gather all the facts and really think about what's best.”

Jason Everly

Everly is a Knoxville native who returned home 10 years ago after serving in the United States military. During his service, he worked with many schools, saying “he was the best school resource officer on my base.”

Everly said he’s worked with schools with his family business, and he’s seen the progress from the Knoxville schools and wants to help further develop the district’s potential. Everly has four kids currently in the school district.

“I just want to help them have the best possible opportunities to be productive and be successful in their lives,” Everly said. “I think the best chance is just being a good team player and coming in with an open mind. I really have no agenda of my own but just to serve the people in Knoxville and especially the kids.”

Everly credits the military and his business experiences for the skills he’s cultivated, which inclu

“I believe with the skills that I carry from the military and from really learning business and throughout life, I can help lead Knoxville into a better and more productive way,” Everly said.

Dave Woodcock

Woodcock and his family moved from Texas to Knoxville a little under five years ago, but grew up in Indianola. He came to the area to start up New Journey Church, where he serves as one of the pastors.

Woodcock said he wanted to get involved with the school system, but he first needed to get involved in the community first. He has two daughters in the school system, and he said he wants to help contribute

“I want to approach all this with an open mind and an open heart. I've coached sports my whole life, so I'm a good team player, and I definitely have a vested interest,” Woodcock said. “I really have no agenda, I just want to be a blessing, I want to ask good questions, hopefully make good decisions, but I definitely have high expectations for the Knoxville school system.”

Woodcock described himself as having an “entrepreneurial spirit,” being in leadership positions for the past 25 years.

“We started from scratch and now we have a thriving church,” Woodcock said. “We serve a lot of families in the community, lots of kids and youth. I’ve been on the Habitat for Humanity of Marion County here for the last three years as well.”

Sarah Stortz can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @sarah__stortz.

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