Meet Jackson County superintendent candidate: Gerald Brockner

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JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Gerald Brockner (R) is running for Jackson County superintendent against Steve Benton (R), Dallas Ellis (R) and Larry Moore (D).

Who is Gerald Brockner?

Brockner was born and raised in New York City. He went to college at St. Lawrence University. He then worked in New York City for a bit before joining the Naval Reserves. He then enrolled in OCS in 1980.

Brockner said he ended up spending 20 years in the Navy, where he learned leadership, management and budgeting as a Naval officer.

Brockner said he also worked 12 years in business management for Coca Cola, Family Dollar and a printer manufacturing company.

He said he moved to Marianna in 2007 with his wife when he started teaching. Combined, they have 13 children. Brockner said most of them went to college, but he said he doesn’t necessarily think college is necessary.

Brockner said he is running because he feels education has lost it’s focus. He said he would like to bring education back to focusing on educating children so they have the skills they need to take on and succeed in adulthood after graduation.

What are your top three priorities?

  1. Educate and prepare the students for success in adult life and help teachers better prepare to do so.
  2. Train, mentor and motivate teachers to provide that education at an exceptional level.
  3. Make sure schools have the proper facilities, supplies, materials and funds to fulfill the first two goals.

What are your plans for training teachers?

Make sure the education teachers are getting in school really works in classrooms., Brockner said. Also, make sure the teachers being hired are highly motivated, he added.

The internships for student-teachers need to start at the beginning of the semester so student-teachers can have more hands-on learning, he said.

More supervision of teachers by principals and administration to see what their strengths and weaknesses are by getting rid of bureaucratic measurements like practice testing, he said. He said it doesn’t help students prepare, it instead frustrates them.

Brockner added that if students are taught the basics properly, they would not need any prep because they would already know how to read, write, do simple math, etc.

How will you raise morale among staff?

Brockner said teachers are not being paid enough and he would like to raise salaries.

He also said teachers need to be incorporated into the teaching and learning process.

He added that good benefits are important and would like to find better providers for staff benefits.

He said he would like to look at the budget, cut waste and unnecessary programs and put that money toward salaries and benefits. One program he would like to cut is the new school in Graceville based on feedback from the community.

As a side note, he said he would like the make the budgeting process should be more transparent for tax payers.

What is best and safest way to open schools and keep them open?

Brockner said he thinks it’s necessary to mandate mask-wearing, especially on buses and while moving through the hallways.

He said the virtual schooling software Canvas as well as Zoom are going to be very helpful in the future.

He said a combination of in-class and virtual learning would be the best because it would make social distancing easier while allowing all students to check in every day.

Do you think metrics in Jackson County like graduation and dropout rate and GPA should be addressed?

“If we don’t have 100% graduation rate, it can always be improved,” Brockner said.

Brockner said he would like a minimum of 95% graduation rate with everyone having a high school diploma as opposed to a certification of participation. He said this is vital for setting students up for success, even if they choose not to go on to college.

He said he is a strong advocate for technical training and other finishing paths for students.

How would you raise the graduation rate?

Brockner said changing the way students are trained to think about school. Instead of putting limits on students, coming up with a different approach, he said. He said that he believes almost all students are capable of learning what is being taught in schools.

Basically, stop letting students believe that they’re not good enough to learn something and instead figure out how to better help them understand it, he said.

He added that there needs to be more communications between the teachers, administration and parents.

Closing remarks:

“This isn’t about political ideologies,” Brockner said. “This is about who’s going to help the students and get the most done.”

Meet the other candidates running for office this year.

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