Wike hopes to bring fresh eyes, experience to board
By Greg Oliver
SIX MILE — Lynn Wike moved to Pickens County from Aiken three years ago, retiring from the Savannah River National Laboratory, where he had worked for 18 years.
But Wike also spent a number of years as a biology teacher and later assistant professor, instructor and lecturer.
In deciding to oppose incumbent Phillip Bowers for the Pickens County School Board of Trustees District 2 seat, which represents the Central, Six Mile and Norris areas, Wike said his goal is to bring “a fresh pair of eyes and extensive years of experience” to the educational process in Pickens County.
“I want to evaluate and address the specific challenges we are facing locally,” said Wike, who has a son, Ernest, and two granddaughters.
During Wike’s years at the Savannah River National Laboratory, he served on a committee in the education outreach program responsible for the formation and administration of the mini-grants program.
“Over the 10 years I was involved in the program, we dispersed hundreds of thousands of dollars in $500, $700 and $1,500 grants to local teachers whose proposals were chosen by the committee for funding,” he said. “It is amazing to see what a great teacher can do with an extra few hundred dollars in their classroom.”
A problem facing many school districts today, particularly in the Upstate, is the lack of minority teachers in the classroom. But Wike feels one way of addressing the problem is to get more quality teachers in general so that education can become “an honored profession again.”
“We need to pay teachers a salary that might allow them to live above the poverty level without having to work extra jobs,” Wike said. “Many people resist that idea, and I hear ‘They only work nine months a year’ too often. Anyone who has spent any time teaching at any level will attest to the fact that it is not an easy job. In fact, it’s a tough thing because too many things are imposed that limit their ability to actually teach.”
As an adjunct professor at various colleges and universities, Wike said he has noticed a dramatic decline in the level of preparation of incoming freshmen in the last 10 to 15 years.
“Most could not read or write at a college or even high school level, few had any critical-thinking skills and their math ability was very poor,” Wike said. “But they could memorize anything they were told, repeat it on a test and then immediately forget without ever having an understanding of what it was. That is not education.”
When asked to envision what he would like to see education look like in the next five to 10 years, Wike replied, “My vision for the district, first and foremost, would be to turn out students with an education that provided them the tools to be successful members of our community, regardless of their station in life.”
“I would like for our students to be good at what they do and have a greater appreciation of the world, whether they be mechanics, truck drivers, construction workers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, professors or anything else they may become,” he said. “I also see the district accomplishing those things as a lean, effective, efficient organization that maximizes return for every dollar spent while paying the teachers — the foundation of any school system — a decent living wage.”
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