Faculty member files for Watauga County Board of Education candidacy

Gerrit Van Genderen

An Appalachian State University part-time assistant professor of social work has officially filed for her candidacy for the Watauga County Board of Education.

Faculty member Tiffany Christian is running for the Watauga Board of Education.
Photo by Dana Clarke | The Appalachian

Tiffany Christian, making her first attempt at public office, filed for her candidacy at the Board of Elections on Monday, which marks the first day that candidates can officially declare their running.

Ronny Holste, psychology instructor at Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute, is the only other candidate yet to file. The filing period ends at noon Feb. 28.

Christian teaches a first-year seminar course at Appalachian as well as leading the Uganda Service Learning Program in the summer. She taught social work full-time for 10 years at Appalachian before recently taking the part-time role as a professor.

“It became evident a few years ago that what was going on with my life, having young kids and those things, was just not compatible with what I needed to do in order to pursue tenure,” Christian said.

A mother of four, three of which are in the Watauga County school system, Christian said she has some unique ideas for the Board of Education, due to being an “out-of-the-box person.”

While her children are a large influence on what she wants for the Watauga County school system, Christian said there needs to be more of a community-focused goal.

“I really want parents to be invested in the schools,” Christian said. “That means that if the school needs something, it does not matter if it benefits my child directly. If I can do something to improve the school system, ultimately it benefits my child.”

Christian’s goals for the Board of Education also included being more creative about providing extra curricular opportunities to all Watauga County schools, which is something she said is not evenly distributed.

“There are schools out there in the far reaches of the county that are not as blessed,” Christian said. “They do not get the influx that Hardin Park [Elementary School] gets because it is too hard to get out to places like Bethel. We have got to be creative about how we can provide quality extra curricular and enrichment activities to all of the kids across the county.”

Christian said her combination of personal, parental and professional experience makes her a good candidate.

Christian said that with all the changes that have occurred recently in education, even though most cannot be controlled at a local level, it was time for her to run.

“It is time to take a new look at things,” Christian said. “We may have done it this way for a million years, but do we have to keep doing it this way? Yes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But some things we’ve got duct-taped together may need to be reconsidered.”

The Watauga County Board of Education is a five-member board that sets policy and establishes guidelines for school operations, according to Watauga County Schools’ website.

The board is elected on a nonpartisan, countywide basis in which three positions on the board are open for election every two years. The field is narrowed down to six candidates during the May primary election. Voters then elect three members in November and the board is seated in December of the election year, according to the website.

Christian has graduate degrees in education, social work and theology. She is involved in the community through Hardin Park Parent Teacher Organization, Boone Sunrise Rotary, Girl Scouts, Board of Directors for Hospitality House and is the owner of Gigi’s Uniforms and More, located in the Boone Mall.

“I feel like I am committed,” Christian said. “This is not a political move. I really care about the decisions that are made because they affect my household every day.”

Story: Gerrit Van Genderen, News Reporter