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Longtime educator challenged by real estate agent in school board race

By , Daily Memphian Updated: October 19, 2022 6:36 AM CT | Published: October 19, 2022 4:00 AM CT

Alissa Fowler, a local real estate agent and Collierville mother, is challenging incumbent Wanda Chism for the Position 2 seat on Collierville’s School Board of Education this November.

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Chism holds Position 2 and has served on the board since the district’s inception. She spent 31 years teaching between Collierville Elementary and Tara Oaks Elementary.

Fowler is a mother of two Collierville Schools students. She wanted to run to be more involved in her daughters’ education.


Alissa Fowler to challenge Collierville school board incumbent Wanda Chism


Early next year, the board must learn the state’s new funding model — the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement (TISA) — and recognize its impact on the multi-million dollar budget.

Fowler notes in her career she’s learned much through experience and sees reviewing the district’s year-long financial plan in a similar light.

“I think I’d be willing to learn and willing to go into depth to look and see what it is,” Fowler said. “I’m a very inquisitive person by nature, so you tell me a subject and I will go research it and not just what the mainstream news has but go into every different type of link to go into it.”

There is still much to learn about TISA, current district leaders note.

“There is a whole lot that is not known,” Chism said. said. “(Legislators) pushed it kind of fast. ... What we do know is we are going to have to take care of the day-to-day expenses.”


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She’s proud of the board’s stewardship and fiscal responsibility. There are reserve funds to fall back on if TISA negatively impacts Collierville Schools, Chism noted.

Employees are the most significant expense, and districts across the country are facing a national teacher shortage. Fewer people are pursuing education degrees.

“Until the last two years, we’ve never run into the problem of finding a teacher because Collierville, for my 40-plus years, has been a desirable place to teach,” Chism said, adding there used to be more applications than vacancies. 

The board reviewed salary adjustments so long-time teachers received credit for their past experience in a different district. Previously, they would not get full credit for teaching in another district, but Chism is proud the board changed that.

Fowler wants to ensure teachers feel supported for their hard work. She noted the work of the teachers has resulted in seven out of nine eligible schools earning reward status from the state. 


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“I don’t think our school system is broken,” Fowler said. “I trust our teachers. All the teachers I’ve known wanted to do what is best for our kids and are seriously trying to prepare our kids for the future.”

Recently, there have been concerns about social-emotional learning, the curriculum required by state law. Chism notes she also had concerns at one time but met with district leadership to learn more. She notes parents may choose for their children to opt out of SEL surveys. More information about the curriculum is provided on the district website.

“Social and emotional learning, that is a part of education,” the incumbent board member said. “Part of educating children is to know how our children are emotionally, how they are socially, and socialization is a part of school.”

Collierville Schools is responsible for teaching every child in each school. With children’s varying needs, Fowler sees the benefit of social-emotional learning.

“We need to make sure kids are prepared for the real world,” she said. “We can’t teach them if they’re offended by something the other person needs to be silenced. There’s going to be differing opinions. ... You can’t attack somebody for who they are and what they can’t change.”


New voting machines prepped for start of early voting


She also said social media is more prevalent in students’ lives and can impact their emotional well-being.

Election Day is Nov. 8, but Early Voting begins today, Wednesday, Oct. 19.

The race for Position 4 on Collierville Schools Board of Education is also on the ballot. Frank Warren decided against seeking a second term. Keri Blair, Chelsea Glass, Heath Hudspeth and Jeremy Smith are seeking the seat.

Additionally, three aldermen races are on the ballot for Collierville voters. William Boone is challenging Alderwoman Maureen Fraser. Alderwoman Missy Marshall is challenged by Emily Fulmer, and Alderman Billy Patton will face Jewel Jordan. 

Topics

School Board position 2 Collierville 2022 collierville election Collierville Board of Education Collierville Schools Wanda Chism Alissa Fowler
Abigail Warren

Abigail Warren

Abigail Warren is a lifelong resident of Shelby County and a graduate of the University of Memphis. She has worked for several local publications and covers the suburbs for The Daily Memphian.


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