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Posted: October 17, 2010 12:00 a.m.

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Board of Education - District 5


Abigail Morgan Coggin, Republican


What is your definition of success in life: My definition of success in life is living a happy and fulfilling life. I may not be the richest or smartest person or own lots of material things, but as long as my children are able to grow up in a happy home, know they are loved and learn that we are all in this together, then I would say my life is successful. One of my favorite quotes is by Albert Schweitzer, “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, then you will be successful.”

Do you own an iPod or other mP3 player? Why or why not?  If you do own one, what’s playing on it: Sadly, I have become one of those persons who rely heavily on a Blackberry to coordinate life and music is a large part of it. My most recent downloads include Big Time Rush, “Famous,” Camp Rock Two, “It’s On,” Selena Gomez, “Live Like There’s No Tomorrow,” and Miranda Cosgrove, “Leave It All To Me.”  As you can tell, my children currently influence my choice of music. However I do have some of my selections from way back when, Drivin’ N’ Cryin’, “Catch The Wind”, and Dead or Alive, “You Spin Me Round.”

Do you own an iPad or other tablet device? Why or why not?: No, I do not own an iPad or other tablet device. I have several friends who own one and speak highly of the technology. Right now, my household budget won’t allow for me to make a purchase such as this. My children keep growing like weeds and it is all I can do to keep them clothed, especially with the upcoming season change.

Who is your political role model? Why: I would have to say that my family is my political role model. Many of you know I come from a long line of local elected officials and concerned citizens. Holding a public office and being active in politics can take its toll on your personal life, especially your children. I experienced firsthand the effects of having my immediate family members represent tens of thousands of people and not just me. There were many late night meetings, taking phone calls from angry citizens during suppertime and missing special events in my life. However there were always other family members who were able to support me when the county came first. My grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends were the ones behind the scenes making sure I was being instilled the values needed to become a successful person. I learned a lot  from the politicians in the family. It was never about the power or the glory of holding office; it was about serving the community; giving back to those people who had given so much to them as they each grew up in Newton County. I also learned a lot from those family members who were behind the scenes. It was their support that has helped make me the person I am today.

What are you reading right now: I am currently reading “Eat, Pray, Love,” by Elizabeth Gilbert. I must admit, I have not been able to read as much as I would like. Working, community involvement, and raising my children have taken precedence. I wish I would have been able to hear Pat Conroy speak during his recent stop in Newton County. I cannot wait to read his newest book “South of Broad.”  My two favorite books are “Gone With The Wind” and “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

What’s your favorite television show: Honestly I do not have the opportunity to watch a lot of television. If you asked my children what my favorite show was they would both answer “the news.”  However, I really enjoy watching ABC’s television show “The Middle” because it just makes me laugh.

What is your strongest personality trait: Listening would have to be my strongest personality trait. I grew up in the era of “children should be seen and not heard.”  I would get so mad when this quote was said as I was trying to interrupt the adults around me. However, I did eventually learn to listen; both to the adult conversations I so wanted to interrupt, and listen to the ideas of others. A friend once described me as Switzerland because I always take a look at a situation from a neutral standpoint. Before I make a decision, I always look at both sides very carefully. It always amazes me what you can learn just by taking a moment to listen.

What do you see as the most important issues facing the Newton County School System in the next few years: There are so many important issues facing school systems today, it is hard to narrow it down to just a few. However, I believe the Newton County Schools have three main hurdles they must overcome before they can move forward. We must improve our graduation rate. We can do so by providing students the ability to learn skills, not just thoughts and theories. The Career Academy will be key in providing students the opportunity to graduate with a high school diploma, as well as provide them with a real skill and our local economy will benefit from a workforce that is “work-ready.” We must set high standards and hold students, teachers, administrators, staff and parents accountable. We all must understand there are consequences to our actions and we cannot pass the blame onto someone else. We must take responsibility for ourselves and our children. We have to stand up for what is right, not what is popular. We must have more local control over how funds are allocated. The students in Newton County may have more of a need for new school books but the students in Early County may need a better school building. The state and federal governments need to allow the local school boards to use money where they see fit. Local school systems should not miss out on funds just because they do not need a particular line item at that time. We need to be able to have a voice in what is important to our students in our local community.



Sharon Sawyer, Democrat 

What is your definition of success in life: Being successful in life to me would consist of continuing to care for my family to the best of my ability, making sure that they have all the love and support I can give them to succeed in life. Maintaining and achieving my professional goals in the corporate workplace, broadcasting and community service has given me the opportunities to meet, help and support a number of people in different areas to help them achieve their goals in life. If I can help at least one person in life to find their road to success, then that to me is being successful. We are “Our Brother & Sister Keepers.”


Do you own an iPod or other mP3 player? Why or why not? If you do own one, what's playing on it: I own an mP3 player because music relaxes me. Right now I am listening to Kirk Franklin, “Revolution,” “Could’ve Been.”


Do you own an iPad or other tablet device? Why or why not: I do not own any table devices. Just a little too expensive right now, and I don’t think they have figured out all the problems related to them yet. In the future, I think they will become as common as the cell phone, just not now and the price will become more affordable.


Who is your political role model? Why: Gen. Colin Powell, former Secretary of State. Gen. Powell to me, has excelled in achieving the American Dream. He came from humble beginnings and achieved the respect and support of most Americans and the world in his role as National Security Adviser followed by the appointment to Secretary of State. Today, he continues to be a role model to many Americans.


What are you reading right now: “A Long Way Gone (memoirs of a boy soldier)” by Ishmael Beah and “Legacy to Legend – Winners make it happen,  Autobiography of Floyd L. Griffin, Jr.”


What's your favorite television show: History Channel’s “Modern Marvels,” “Bible Stories.”


What is your strongest personality trait: Being a people person. Someone that is willing to listen, advise and support their goals to succeed in life. Caring, sincere and trustworthy.


What do you see as the most important issues facing the Newton County School System in the next few years: To provide a safe learning environment for both students and teachers. Providing them with the necessary latest technical support along with other proven curriculum guidelines, using funds that are available wisely to get the most out what we spend. We must make sure our students are meeting and achieving the goals of AYP and other standards set by the State and Federal government. Making sure our students and staff get the tools and support necessary to accomplish these tasks, starting at the earliest grade levels. Developing open relationships with teachers, students and parents to insure the quality of our educational system is the best that is can be with funds that are available. Making sure our children’s education is not budgeted out of existence. The integrity of the BOE is at stake in this election. With the departure of three members, we must make sure the people being elected on November 2, 2010 have the future of our children's education at the top of their priority list. We need people who are concerned a about budgets, curriculum and who are financially knowledgeable. The future is now and we must continue to advance with all the tools and personnel necessary to be more than successful.




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