The open seat on the Madison County School Board gives the voters a clear opportunity; why not put this youthful energy to work? Our community is thriving with opportunities flowing in left and right, we need a visionary leader to keep those opportunities coming, while building on the ones that exist. We need a fiscal conservative with connections inside our district to do the important work and support students, teachers, and school administration.
Jaylen Cotton is running because his first-hand, recent graduate perspective is exactly what our school districts need to propel the district forward. The challenges facing our school district weren’t something he merely researched, he lived them. As a panelist on issues related to school system readiness, a local restaurant leader, and a substitute teacher in our community — Jaylen is excited to share his ideas and vision with you.
Jaylen is running because our schools need a candidate to look towards the future and continue to drive our education forward. Sitting in our public school classrooms over the last thirteen years made it clear to Jaylen that the way we educate is changing and our school district leadership has to embrace those changes and be ahead of them.
As a student, Jaylen was involved with a variety of school clubs and organizations including student government, journalism, band, and more, giving him a wide-lens perspective of our schools and the challenges we face. His recent graduation provided the clearest exigence, but there is a myriad of reasons compelling him to be the force of change. As a small business leader, tasked with being the general manager of a multi-million dollar restaurant, he easily recognize the need to have talent that can fill the needs of the jobs available. Jaylen knows that this undeniably starts in our schools. Jaylen has stepped up to the plate when our schools needed it most, serving as a substitute teacher on the days when he can step away from the restaurant . In today's economy, not every high school graduate needs to attend a university. For this reason, K12 education needs to pivot, prepare, and provide more support for graduates who want to enter the workforce upon graduation.
Jaylen's experience has graced him with the perspective to help drive the narrative surrounding our schools. Our economy reflects the fact that not at all students need to go to college to be well-positioned for success. The vast majority of jobs offered by the flagship Toyota-Mazda development – which Sparkman is the closest county high school to – are jobs without a college degree requirement. As the older brother of a sister still attending the school system, and the uncle to a niece soon to follow, Jaylen has an engaged interest in the success and vision of our schools. The entities that do governance best do so from diversifying the people in leadership, and Jaylen can offer a diverse, intellectually curious mindset to the board.
As Jaylen looks over the youth in the classrooms where he substitute teaches, he recognizes, soundly, his desire to provide educational opportunities to help them reach their potential.
Jaylen's vision quantified: There is no opportunity out of reach for our students – if it’s available someplace else, it should be available for them. Our entire community fails or succeeds based upon our public education system and thus, Jaylen's vision for students is informed by that reality . Our education system has to equip all students to be college and or career ready when they leave our campuses. As a graduate that elected to take a gap-year and explore the Huntsville job market before entering college, Jaylen knows the positive impact such a choice can have. He wants to provide students with the tools to help them make the best choice for them.
District 5 Schools: Monrovia Elementary, Legacy Elementary, Monrovia Elementary — Monrovia Middle — Sparkman High.
Firstly, Jaylen desires our school district to be granted unitary status out of the consent order. From his point of view as well as the lessons and insight gained from fostering relationships with key leadership, Jaylen is seen as a subject matter expert on this initiative.
There are a myriad of entities that play a hand in the court’s eventual decision on the timing of unitary status but as we look towards the future, intentionality will make or break this process. Local communities having complete control of their schools is the ideal circumstance – but we will not get there without effort.
Our district’s employment ranks today are less racially diverse than the time frame of the original lawsuit. Jaylen, along with his peers, work diligently, trying to reshape the way that we view the challenges of equity and inclusion. All of these metrics are within our control. Jaylen will also tell you that one of the biggest ways the district has been able to have impact is by diversifying the folks who make decisions for our district – from the school counselor and teacher level and beyond. The district has benefited from the ability to ask diverse people to make decisions from their inherently diverse backgrounds.
Finally, Jaylen wishes to see more technology implemented into our school system. As we continue to progress, we can no longer lag behind other districts in terms of technology. Our students deserve undeniable, equal access to the type of equipment theywill be using in their day to day life. As a board member, Jaylen will work with the elected superintendent, and other board members, to institute a digital one-to-one initiative so that our students can excel.
Your support in every way will make or break our campaign. Please join Jaylen's mailing list, follow him on social media, and donate to help Jaylen get his message to everyone. Your support is everything!