Profile: Collier School Board candidate Roy Terry a career educator
By KATHERINE ALBERS
Monday, July 12, 2010
NAPLES — Roy Terry has been in Naples, and in Collier County education, for a long time.
“I know how the community operates. It’s a positive thing, as long as people think you are doing a good job,” he said.
Terry hopes the voters think he is doing a good job, too. As Collier County’s newest School Board member, he wants the chance at a full term.
“I have a lot of experience in education, including 32 years in Collier County. I have worked hard in the county to do what is best for the children, to do what is best for the school system,” he said. “We need to continue to provide an excellent education for our children.”
Terry is running for the Collier County School Board District 5 seat against retired Naples Police detective Joe Whitehead and Collier County School District instructional specialist Mary Ellen Cash.
District 5 encompasses Golden Gate Estates and Immokalee, but Collier County School Board members are elected by voters countywide. Board members run in nonpartisan elections and serve four-year terms.
The primary election is Tuesday, Aug. 24.
Terry has been in education for more than 40 years, 32 of those in Collier County. He began his career in Naples in 1978 as a teacher and coach at Naples High School. In 1984, he became the Naples High School Athletic Director and followed that by becoming the assistant principal at East Naples Middle School in 1988. In 1989, he took a job as coordinator of physical education for the district. In 1992, he became the principal at Lely High School and stayed there until 2003, when he took his job as principal at Palmetto Ridge High School.
He retired from Collier County Public Schools in 2009 and later that year announced his intention to run for the District 5 seat.
In January, Gov. Charlie Crist appointed Terry to fill the District 5 seat after Richard Calabrese announced he was stepping down last year.
Since taking the spot, Terry said the biggest adjustment has been working with his fellow board members.
“When you run for office, it is just you. But when you are in the seat, it is you and four other individuals,” he said. “You can have five people with differing ideas, but you have to bring them together.”
Terry’s campaign is built around what he calls “The Four Betters.” They are: Creating better leadership for the school system; creating better community involvement; creating better student achievement; and creating better school safety and discipline.
To accomplish those goals, Terry said he would like the Collier County School Board to review Superintendent Dennis Thompson twice a year. He would like community input, including parents, local businesses, teachers, administrators and residents without children, in major school district decisions.
“I believe we should hold students to a higher standard. I think some of the things that have been implemented recently have not sent that message to students,” he said of bettering student achievement, alluding for example to the district’s no-homework-grading rule in middle schools.
Terry said he also believes that the schools need to get back to emphasizing character traits that the district adopted several years ago.
The current School Board member also has some specific ideas on improvements he would like to make in the district.
“I would like to reinstitute the role of assistant superintendent out in Immokalee,” he said. “They need someone who speaks for them, who is from Immokalee, who knows education.”
Terry also said he would like to see two magnet schools established at Lely and Golden Gate high schools. A magnet school is one with specialized courses or curricula that attracts students from around the district. Terry sees establishing a humanities and social studies magnet school and a science and math magnet school at the two locations.
“Academics are the heart of a school,” he said. “If you have a good enough program (a magnet school) would succeed. I think it would be a way to build up those schools with students, and build up their academic excellence.”
Terry has been married for 47 years to Helen Holmes, whom he began dating as a sophomore in high school. They have two children — Roy Terry IV, a local Methodist minister, and Kathy Weiss, who is married to former Naples High School quarterback, Air Force Col. Bart Weiss.
__ Connect with reporter Katherine Albers at www.naplesnews.com/staff/katherine-albers/.