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Four candidates in Collierville seeking Warren’s open seat

By , Daily Memphian Updated: October 19, 2022 6:34 AM CT | Published: October 19, 2022 4:00 AM CT

Position 4 on the Collierville Board of Education is wide open in the November municipal elections, and four hopefuls want to be the next person serving the community.

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Keri Blair, Chelsea Glass, Heath Hudspeth and Jeremy Smith are all seeking the seat Frank Warren holds. Warren is not seeking a second term and will roll off the board later this year.

Social-Emotional Learning

State law requires the teaching of social-emotional learning in schools, and the Board of Education approves each district’s curriculum.

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“If it’s state policy it doesn’t matter what I think about it,” Smith, a counselor with Memphis-Shelby County Schools, said. “If you don’t want to do it, it doesn’t matter. (If not taught), you are going to get funding pulled. I am ok with it. What I don’t want to see happen is it get to a point where we are dealing more of social-emotional learning, the mental aspect and we forget the real reason (why) we are there. We can’t be an educational institution and be a mental institution.”

Blair, the mother of a third grader, is opposed to social-emotional learning.

“We need to continue and make sure that we focus on education in our schools; no social agendas,” Blair said. “There is absolutely no room for social agendas outside of learning the basic traditional math, reading, social studies, spelling.”

<strong>Keri Blair, Chelsea Glass, Heath Hudspeth</strong> and <strong>Jeremy Smith</strong>

Keri Blair, Chelsea Glass, Heath Hudspeth and Jeremy Smith

Hudspeth, who is endorsed by Warren, said it’s necessary to look at the overall health of students and that includes their emotional well-being

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“You have people that have an agenda,” he said. “You have people that want to use it for a negative consequence versus really looking what it should be, and that’s looking at the total health of a student. ... Am I concerned with the mental health of our students? Absolutely. Coming out of a pandemic, and the issues we have. That’s important.”

Hudspeth and Glass both noted suicide rates have recently increased.

“Making sure our students have all the tools and resources they need to thrive should be our primary. There is no cost. There is no amount of money too high to support our students,” Glass said, adding she desires better support for minority and LGBTQ students.


The town has tremendous potential to grow with parcels of undeveloped land inside Collierville and about 9,000 acres it could annex in future years. With that growth, families with school-aged children could move to Collierville thus impacting enrollment in the suburban district.

“Our district does a great job of making sure we accept the amount of children, and we have the amount of children that we can make sure they have a good education,” Blair said.

Glass and Hudspeth noted the Board of Education must work with the town to prepare for potential growth.

“It’s a two-pronged approach,” Glass said. “We need to be working with the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on that and making assessments with administration. The town needs to be part of that discussion because they make decisions on development.”

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“I think that will be critical that the school board works with (the Board of Mayor and Aldermen) to look how schools stay safe, stay competitive and we don’t hinder education through overcrowdedness,” Hudspeth said.

Smith said the district must be proactive and believes there will likely be a need for a new middle school eventually.

“Growth is good but we have to keep up with it,” Smith said. “I think it is going to happen no matter what. It’s not the same little town I grew up in, but I still love Collierville. It’s still my home. The whole reason it boomed in the first place (is) because of the schools.”

Ideal graduate

School board candidates recognize at the end of the day, each of their decisions impacts students. The district’s mission statement talks about preparing students to be successful, and they want to do that.

“Anybody that thinks there’s one ideal aspect for a graduate from Collierville High School, I think needs to get to know the kids better,” Hudspeth said. “I want them when they look back at their time in Collierville Schools, they remember a great experience where you saw teachers that cared, a community that rallied around the schools and a place where they want to come back and tell others how great the community is.”

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He said Collierville has a diverse group of graduates who should be able to choose college or career.

“Someone who can finish school and say ‘I’ve accomplished what I set out to do,’” Blair said. “If a student can graduate say my ideal future is X, Y and Z, then that student is successful.”

Glass said their trajectory starts as early as freshman year of high school.

“If we’re not focusing in ninth grade on our students and setting them up for success in their first six weeks of their arrival (to high school), those first six weeks are critical to literally what happens to these students for the rest of their lives,” she said. “I think the ideal graduate, that’s up for students to decide. ... How do we get our students ready for the present reality of life but not just the dream?”

She noted some students will go to college but others need to prepare for a range of careers from customer service to pilots.

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“I would hope every student that graduates — and I’m sure this is the case — that they are all prepared to go into whatever endeavor they choose,” Smith said. “Whether that’s four-year college, trade school, military, work-study. That we have prepared them and given them the tools to be successful in whatever they decide to do.”

Parent engagement

“I would like to see town halls every quarter for people to have healthy dialogue,” Blair said. “Because other than just stating a comment (during meetings), what’s the work in progress? How are we validating our community by really hearing them out and their concerns or their feedback on things?”

Glass believes it’s important for a current parent to be on the board.

“I think there is a place for parent involvement,” she said. “As a parent, I would not feel comfortable with some of my opponents making all of the decisions about my child’s education. It’s not just about my opponents, it’s about people sitting on the board today and decisions they have made.”

As for examples of decisions, she wishes the board would have implemented a mask mandate longer than they did.

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Hudspeth believes parents play the most critical role in students’ education.

“Schools are not a daycare,” Hudspeth said. “It is actually to come alongside the parent to help their kids reach the goals they have in education and involvement in the community. I think the more parents can be involved the better and we know not all parents can be involved as others. The reason why I have not run for school previously is because guess what? I was busy being a parent.”

As a current educator, Smith wants to see parental involvement.

“They are our support base as educators.,” he said. “Any educator will tell you they would rather have an involved parent than an uninvolved parent to help that student be successful. There (are) ways for parents to be involved. As educators, we don’t want to shut parents out. We value opinions.”

There is no runoff for school board offices. The person with the most votes wins. Two years ago, Paul Childers won his seat in a four-way race, garnering 44.2% of the vote. That’s different than the alderman races where they must earn more than 50% of the vote.

Position 2 for Collierville Schools Board of Education is also on the ballot and Alissa Fowler, a local realtor, is challenging incumbent member Wanda Chism.

There are also three aldermen races on the ballot. Alderwoman Maureen Fraser is facing William Boone, the same opponent she defeated four years ago, for the Position 1 seat. Alderwoman Missy Marshall is challenged by Emily Fulmer for Position 4. Jewel Jordan and Alderman Billy Patton will face off for Position 2 on the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

In Collierville, aldermen and school board candidates serve at-large and do not represent certain areas. Residents can vote for one person in each position.

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


Collierville Schools Collierville Board of Education Collierville School Board Position 4 Keri Blair Chelsea Glass Heath Hudspeth Jeremy Smith
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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