Thompson, Jackson, Bailey compete for school board seat

Published 11:18 am Friday, March 22, 2024

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The LaGrange Daily News is doing a series to help voters get to know the candidates for the upcoming local elections on May 21. Today we are writing about the Troup County Board of Education District 3 seat.

Three candidates are seeking the District 3 seat currently held by Board Chair Brandon Brooks, who did not seek reelection. 

The District 3 seat is being sought by Alana “Beth” Jackson, Mark Thompson and Daniela Bailey.

Jackson currently works in medical management where she oversees a customer relations team for Concentra, but she has a history in education, having previously worked at Headstart for about seven years.

Thompson is a retired manufacturing worker. He said he has worked in various plants for 40 years. Thompson worked at LaGrange Molding for over 25 years and at Kia for just under a decade. He closed out his career at Amazon for the final couple of years.

Bailey currently serves as the director of administration for the LaGrange Housing Authority, where she has worked for eight years. Daniella is the wife of former Hogansville City Councilman George Bailey.


Jackson said she was inspired to run for school board because of the love of her children.

“I have a two-year-old, and I know he will be entering in the Troup County School System soon,” Jackson said. “I just want it to be a great place for him to go, not only for him, but for all children. I truly have a passion for education and children. At Headstart, I learned so much about the needs of our community. That alone pushed me to want to advocate for all of our kids.”

Thompson said he saw the opportunity when school board members were retiring.

“I’m well known around LaGrange, my family and all. I saw where Brandon Brooks wasn’t going to run anymore, and I live in his district, so I just decided to see if I can just get my name out there. I know a lot of people here in LaGrange and Troup County,” Thompson said.

Bailey said she is running for school board because she has a passion for youth and wants to see things improve.

“I was born in Nuremberg, Germany, and I just believe in diversity, I believe in brainstorming and I believe in balance. There’s a solution to everything. I do have a passion for the youth,” Bailey said. “I know that COVID came through and kind of shifted a lot of things, but I truly believe that coming together, decision making the best possible solution can help to better the school system in general. I know that it’s in a transition right now, but I do believe in solutions. I believe in the youth, and I have a great compassion to see things change and improve.”


Jackson the school system could be made better for everybody.

“I just think that there’s a lot to be worked on. Not only our scores are low, but the kid’s behavior is not what it should be. We need to partner with our parents. There’s a lot of things that need to be done in the school system to make it better and to make it more individualized for students because not all students learn the same way.”

“To me, Troup County Schools right now is a cookie-cutter system,” Jackson said. “They want all kids to learn the same, and I just don’t think that’s feasible. It shows that in our test scores along with a lot of times now, regular performing kids are in the same class with special ed kids. It’s hard for the teachers to teach both sets of students at the same time because they’re learning on two different wavelengths. I think it’s a disservice to our kids.”

Similarly, Thompson said the school system could be better.

“I think they’re doing OK, but I think it could be a lot better. In my personal opinion, some things need to be back in classrooms that they don’t teach anymore,” Thompson said. “I’m old school. When I went to school, we learned how to balance a checkbook and read a tape measure. Things like that. We didn’t have cell phones back then. Now, they do a lot of things on their phones. Times change, so you have to change with it.”

Bailey said the school system needs balance when it comes to parental involvement, testing and even the district as a whole.

“When you look at the district’s [test scores] as a whole, how we can kind of come together and improve that?” Bailey said. “Parent involvement needs to be number one.“


The Troup County School System is currently looking for a new superintendent after Brian Shumate announced his intent to retire at the end of June.

The incoming school board members will not decide who the new superintendent is, as the current board has a goal to have the new leader in place by the end of the current school year.  New board members won’t take over until January. However, they will oversee whoever is hired for that position.

“I’m looking for somebody that is a progressive thinker. Somebody that’s not just stuck in a routine of this is how it’s done, and this is how it’s been done,” Jackson said.

“As a mom and as a community member and as a graduate of the Troup County School System, I just believe it’s crucial for our school district to have a superintendent who embraces progressive thinking, who values innovation, inclusivity and creative learning,” Jackson said. “I also think we need somebody who will prioritize equity, diversity, social emotional wellbeing, while also fostering a culture of creative and critical thinking and problem-solving.”

Thompson said he would prefer to have someone local as the new school superintendent.

“I think it needs to be somebody local,” Thompson said. “That’s just my personal perspective of it because if you get somebody who lives in Texas, nobody knows who they are or their background or whatever.”

Bailey said the new school superintendent needs to have passion for what they do and not be narrow-minded.

“You should have passion. You need to have an open mind. You can’t have tunnel vision. You’ve got to look at [the school system] as a whole and not what would be the better for just one district but all districts,” Bailey said.

She believes the new superintendent should come in with a neutral mindset with a passion for what they do but also for the community as a whole. She said the new superintendent should be open to constructive criticism and open to hearing all voices, she said.