STAUNTON — With all three incumbents deciding not to seek relection to the Staunton School Board this year, the race to replace them is heating up. Six candidates filed by the June 21 deadline for the three open seats, but since then Velma Bryant has decided to withdraw from the race. Bryant told The News Leader that the time commitment to running a campaign is just too great with a young family.
Meanwhile, Waynesboro will have one contested race in Ward D and another candidate running unopposed in Ward C. Augusta County has just one open seat for a one-year term in the South River District and that will also be unopposed.
The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 8 and the first day of in-person early voting is Friday, Sept. 23. The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 17.
Let's take a brief look at the candidates:
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Mason is originally from Philadelphia but came to Staunton in 2012 to attend college at Mary Baldwin. She said she originally intended to stay just for her four years of school, but after graduating with a bachelor's in English and Spanish in 2016 she decided to remain in the area longer.
"(I) fell in love with this small town and all of the quirkiness it had to offer, from Pac'n the Streets to Contra Dancing and beyond," she said.
Mason also has a master's in education and during her pursuit of that degree she held longterm substitute teaching jobs at Riverheads and Stuarts Draft high schools, Kate Collins Middle School, and what is now Staunton High School. Eventually she accepted a full-time job teaching Spanish at both Staunton's high and middle schools.
Mason said, like a lot of educators, she felt the post-pandemic teacher burnout and chose to step away from the classroom this past May. That's when she decided to run for school board.
Mason said her primary reasons for running are:
To give a voice and create resources for the rising ELL (English Language Learner) and refugee youth population in Staunton;
To establish transparent and accountable communication between the school board, school employees, and the Staunton community;
To foster collaborative relationships between the board, teachers, parents, administration, and community members to tackle behavior and budgeting issues.
FONTELLA L. BROWN-BUNDY
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Brown-Bundy was born and raised in Tampa, Florida. She enlisted in the United States Army and served during Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf War. While on active duty in Germany she met her future husband, a native of Staunton who was also on active duty in the Army.
Brown-Bundy made Staunton her home in 1997 and began working at what is now Augusta Health. Eventually she took a position with Augusta Pediatrics as a nurse.
"In a short time, I became more involved in my new community and wanted more time to explore this with my own children," she said. "So I sought employment in the surrounding school systems."
For nearly 20 years she was a school nurse at Beverley Manor Middle School in Augusta County.
Her reasons for running for school board are:
To serve and repay my community for the great education my children received in Staunton;
To support all students of Staunton;
To work together to Excellerate educational outcomes for all students in Staunton.
"My motto is FOCUS," she said. "For our children universal support."
KRISTIN M. SIEGEL
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Siegel is the mother of two children enrolled in Staunton City Schools. She has been an active participant in the McSwain Elementary PTA as well as a weekly volunteer at the school, and has served as secretary for the Shelburne Middle School PTA.
For almost five years Siegel was in full-time practice at a mental health facility. Her community involvement has included advocating for school funding, volunteering for the New Directions Center hotline and serving as an active member of her church, Covenant Presbyterian.
Siegel said her key campaign issues include:
Retaining and hiring excellent administrators, teachers and staff;
Educators must have the resources and support that they need;
Increase community partnerships to fill gaps and bolster student success;
Increased parent partnerships, volunteerism and investment in schools;
Seek out new and nurture current community partnerships to give students access to opportunities that can enrich their academic experiences;
Increase student access to mental health resources;
Continue to make Staunton City Schools a safe and welcoming environment for all;
Seek out educators and staff that represent our diverse student body;
Effective communication within each school and across the district;
Continued support of the Superintendent’s innovative approaches towards problem solving in the district.
JOHN T. WILSON
Wilson is originally from Bassett, graduating with a degree in computer numerical control machining from Danville Community College. Wilson also has an associate's from Central Virginia Community College in Lynchburg and a bachelor's in history from James Madison University. He has been working in sales for the past 10 years.
He and his wife moved to Staunton in 2012 and the couple has three children.
The action items that prompted him to run for school board include:
New funding and training for school safety, and equipment, including hiring additional school resource officers (SROs) for each school in the division;
Advocating at the state level for more SRO training sessions to deal with the bottleneck in hiring, or securing funding to make sure all access points to the interior of our schools are monitored by a camera;
Adoption and passage of a parental bill of rights modeled on the family foundations parent's bill of rights;
A commitment to a truly inclusive and diverse educational experience for students, faculty, and staff of Staunton City Schools, focusing on diversity of thought and conscience. ("We are not going to punish faculty, staff, or students for expressing the commonly held belief that boys cannot be girls, and vise versa," he wrote in his email to The News Leader);
Renew the focus of the classroom to cultivating rigorous academic study and intellectual curiosity;
Expand trade educational opportunities;
Reinstating Weekday Religious Education in Staunton City Schools.
LISA BLACKBURN HATTER
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Hatter and her husband are both Staunton-area natives. Their children and grandchildren attend or have attended Staunton City Schools. Hatter attended Beverley Manor and Wilson, then earned degrees from Blue Ridge Community College and Virginia Tech.
Hatter said her love for learning and education came from her father and grandmother, a teacher. She said she wants the best for her hometown, and believes a great education is critical to ensuring a great future for all Staunton students.
In addition to a full-time career as an engineer and project manager, Lisa has served as an adjunct professor at BRCC, mentored and tutored high school students through detailed design and build projects; conducted countless STEM outreach events at schools and communities throughout the region; coached youth basketball teams, and served as an online school learning coach to her nephew for the past two years.
Hatter said that she believes her strengths include knowing how to evaluate situations, collect data and examine problems objectively.
"(My) greatest assets include the ability to assess challenges, listen to differing viewpoints and create optimal solutions," she said.
She said those attributes will enable her to serve as a "proficient, effective and positive school board member."
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Maneval is currently the school board's representative for Ward D, serving as vice chairperson since 2021. She was first elected to the board in 2006 and has also served as the board's chairperson.
She has a bachelor's from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and a master's in education with a specialization in psychological services from the University of Pennsylvania. Maneval was born and raised in Newark, Delaware. She and her husband moved to Waynesboro in 2000. The couple has four children, all of whom attended Waynesboro Public Schools.
Maneval has served as treasurer and/or bookkeeper for Westwood Hills PTO, Kate Collins Middle School PTO, Waynesboro High School band supporters, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Boy Scout Troop 73, and Cub Scout Pack 73. She currently serves as committee chairperson for Cub Scout Pack 73.
The key issues in her campaign include:
Enhancing safe school environments;
Student achievement and success;
Retaining our highly qualified teachers and staff through competitive compensation and support.
AMBER L. LIPSCOMB
Lipscomb was a sixth-grade math teacher at Kate Collins Middle school for six years, beginning in 2015. She currently is an online school teacher for another school district after stepping away from Waynesboro Public Schools last year.
"I still love my students at Waynesboro so I thought of a different way I could serve them," she said. "The school board in my ward popped up and it was laying heavy on me. I thought, you know what, that might be an opportunity for me to still show the community I live in that I'm dedicated to them."
Lipscomb graduated from Stuarts Draft High School and James Madison University, where she received a master's in education. She and her husband have two young children.
She said one of the reasons she wants to run is to help schools navigate education post-COVID. She also said she'd like to see more transparency between the school division and community, hopefully working to increase communication of what is happening in the schools.
"I want the students to be proud to be in Waynesboro and Waynesboro Public Schools," she said. "Just by having community events and just building that up more. I feel like we can do a little better with that."
Freeman-Belle was the only candidate to file by the deadline to run in Ward C. She is currently the school board's representative for the ward.
In March, she was announced as the new CEO/executive director of The Boys & Girls Club of Waynesboro, Staunton and Augusta County. Previously she served as executive director for the Waynesboro Area Refuge Ministry (WARM).
She wrote on her campaign website that the pandemic forced her to examine if running for another term on the school board was the right decision. Eventually she determined it was the right move.
"I’ve seen firsthand that our families, students, and community still need us to serve with our whole hearts, effort, & experience.," Freeman-Belle wrote on the website. "We need to continue working on additional support services for students; continue trying new and needed strategies for the social, emotional, and physical well-being of our students; continue renovations to buildings in need; continue increasing employee compensation; and continue leading and learning along the way.
"There are many things that have been disagreed on over the past few years but I hope these are needs that the majority of Ward C voters can agree on to move our schools forward."
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Troxell was appointed by the Augusta County School Board to a one-year term in February. He was one of three applicants for a vacant seat representing the South River district. The seat will have one year remaining and Troxell is the only candidate to file for the election by the deadline for that remaining year.
Troxell said he's been talking with some younger members of the community about running for school board, including in his district, and he hopes he's planted some seeds.
In his time on the board he said one of the most important issues is school safety.
"It's on everyone's mind," he said. "That's going to be a primary focus for me in the coming year. Not only to come to some conclusions, but to stay on top of it and keep asking questions about how it is going and what are we doing concerning security for the children and the people who work with them."
Troxell said in his talks with the community another issue has come to the forefront.
"Parents want to be involved in their children's education," he said. "I think that it is important that they be a part of that equation. I'm going to try to fulfill that expectation."
Patrick Hite is The News Leader's education reporter. Story ideas and tips always welcome. Contact Patrick (he/him/his) at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Patrick_Hite. Subscribe to us at newsleader.com.
This article originally appeared on Staunton News Leader: Who is running for school board in Staunton, Waynesboro, Augusta County?
Factors like latency, bandwidth, security and privacy are driving the adoption of edge computing, which aims to process data closer to where it's being generated. Consider a temperature sensor in a shipyard or a fleet of cameras in a fulfillment center. Normally, the data from them might have to be relayed to a server for analysis. But with an edge computing setup, the data can be processed on-site, eliminating cloud computing costs and enabling processing at greater speeds and volumes (in theory).
Technical challenges can stand in the way of successful edge computing deployments, however. That's according to Said Ouissal, the CEO of Zededa, which provides distributed edge orchestration and virtualization software. Ouissal has a product to sell -- Zededa works with customers to help manage edge devices -- but he points to Zededa's growth to support his claim. The number of edge devices under the company's management grew 4x in the past year while Zededa's revenue grew 7x, Ouissal says.
Zededa's success in securing cash during a downturn, too, suggests that the edge computing market is robust. The company raised $26 million in Series B funding, Zededa today announced, contributed by a range of investors including Coast Range Capital, Lux Capital, Energize Ventures, Almaz Capital, Porsche Ventures, Chevron Technology Ventures, Juniper Networks, Rockwell Automation, Samsung Next and EDF North America Ventures.
"There were two main trends that led to Zededa's founding," Ouissal told TechCrunch in an email interview. "First, as more devices, people and locations were increasingly being connected, unprecedented amounts of data were being generated … Secondly, the sheer scale and diversity of what was happening at the edge would be impossible for organizations to manage in a per-use case fashion. The only successful way to manage this type of environment was for organizations to have visibility across all the hardware, applications, clouds and networks distributed across their edge environments, just like they have in the data center or cloud."
Ouissal co-founded Zededa in 2016 alongside Erik Nordmark, Roman Shaposhnik and Vijay Tapaskar. Previously, Ouissal was the VP of strategy and customer management at Ericsson and a product manager at Juniper Networks. Nordmark was a distinguished engineer at Cisco, while Shaposhnik -- also an engineer by training -- spent years developing cloud architectures at Sun Microsystems, Huawei, Yahoo and Cloudera.
Zededa's software-as-a-service product, with works with devices from brands like SuperMicro, monitors edge installations to ensure they're working as intended. It also guides users through the deployment steps, leveraging open source projects designed for Internet of Things orchestration and cyber defense. Zededa's tech stack, for example, builds on the Linux Foundation's EVE-OS, an open Linux-based operating system for distributed edge computing.
Image Credits: Zededa
Zededa aims to support most white-labeled devices offered by major OEMs; its vendor-agnostic software can be deployed on any bare-metal hardware or within a virtual machine to provide orchestration services and run apps. According to Ouissal, use cases range from monitoring sensors and security cameras to regularly upgrading the software in cell towers.
“The C-suite understands that digital transformation is critical to their organization’s success, particularly for organizations with distributed operations, and digital transformation cannot happen without edge computing. The ability to collect, analyze and act upon data at the distributed edge makes it possible for businesses to increase their competitive advantage, reduce costs, Excellerate operational efficiency, open up new revenue streams and operate within safer and more secure environments," Ouissal said. "As a result of this, edge computing projects are accelerating within organizations."
Some research bears this out. According to a June 2021 Eclipse Foundation poll, 54% of organizations surveyed were either using or planning to use edge computing technologies within the next 12 months. A latest IDC report, meanwhile, forecasts double-digit growth in investments in edge computing over the next few years.
Zededa's customers are primarily in the IT infrastructure, industrial automation and oil and gas industries. Ouissal wouldn't say how many the company has currently but asserted that Zededa remains sufficiently differentiated from rivals in the edge device orchestration space.
"In terms of the 'IT down' trajectory, we are complementary to data solutions from the likes of VMware, SUSE, Nutanix, Red Hat and Sunlight, but these solutions are not suitable for deployments outside of secure data centers. From the 'OT up' standpoint, adjacent competitors include the likes of Balena, Portainer and Canonical’s Ubuntu Core. However, these solutions are more suitable for 'greenfield' use cases that only require containers and lack the security required for true enterprise and industrial deployments," Ouissal argued. "Despite the economic downturn, the strategic and transformative potential of edge computing to create new business opportunities is leading investors across verticals to increase their commitment, at a time when they may be more reluctant to invest in other avenues."
In any case, Zededa, which has a roughly 100-person team spread across the U.S., Germany and India, is actively hiring and plans to expand its R&D, sales and marketing teams within the year, Ouissal said. To date, the eight-year-old startup has raised a total of $55.4 million in venture capital.
"[We aim to increase] the use cases and integrations that we support. Within our product, we will continue to focus on innovation to Excellerate ease of use and security. As the edge computing market evolves and matures," Ouissal said. "We are also focused on enabling applications including updating legacy applications and bringing new solutions to the market that simplify technologies like AI and machine learning.”