As the August 4 Williamson County election draws closer, Williamson’s homepage profiles the candidates for the Williamson County School Board race.
When Nancy Garrett saw the opportunity to represent District 12 on the Williamson County School Board in 2016, she was sure she had the qualifications for the job.
A longtime resident of Williamson County, she remained involved in the schools as a parent from the time her only child, Quinn, entered kindergarten at Moore Elementary until her graduation from Centennial High. School. She had served four years in the PTO at Centennial and was president in her son’s senior year.
Even before that, his enthusiasm for public education had sprouted from his father, the late William Nelson, a chemistry and physics teacher for 36 years at Franklin High and a few others in Maury County. She was active in student government and held various positions while a student herself.
So while she felt a change was about to occur on the board regarding then-District 12 member Susan Curlee – who was elected in 2014 and resigned two years later after a tumultuous times – Garrett put his name on the slate to take the seat. She regularly attended school board meetings and felt informed.
A large majority of county commissioners agreed, selecting her for District 12 by a 17-7 vote.
“I kind of had a feeling it wasn’t going to work out for her,” Garrett said of Curlee. “I thought if it opens up, I’m going to go. I know my community and I am convinced that I can legitimately serve it and take care of what is happening. Because I attended all these meetings, I was able to start immediately.
Garrett was elected to remain in the seat in 2018 and has served the past two years as school board president. Independent, she is running against Republican Drason Beasley in the August 4 election.
“A lot of people ask me why I keep doing this,” Garrett said, referring to the fact that she’s had to chair a number of board meetings that have become rather contentious over the past two years. “Well, because it matters. What we do for our students and what we do for the future of our community matters. And it’s worth going through it all with that in mind. We prepare students to lead in the future.
“My family has had three generations of investment in this neighborhood, and it’s my passion. It is worth doing this work.
It’s work that she says should be done in a non-partisan way. The Tennessee Legislature voted last fall to allow counties to hold elections with candidates having the option of declaring their party affiliation, with about half of those running for the Williamson school board declaring themselves Republicans or Democrats and the other half as Independents.
“As a board member,” Garrett said, “I want to hold myself to the same standard that we hold our teachers to: nonpartisan public service to our students. I just don’t believe board members should have a different standard than the teachers they serve.
Garrett, who has worked as a national knowledge leader for a global professional services organization for the past 16 years and is active in several nonprofits, said “public schools are one of the biggest creations of our country,” pointing to a saying she remembers hearing from a former Franklin Special School District schools superintendent, Janice Shelby.
“She said every family sends their best,” Garrett explained, “And when you think about it, that’s really true. Every family sends their hopes and dreams, and we serve all students, not just some students. .
“So our decision-making must be broad and strategic because of who we serve and also because of what this community expects in terms of quality education.”
Visit Nancy Garrett website for more information.