Self-proclaimed ‘teacher’s advocate’ calls for change in education

By Hannah Mask

Known to her colleagues as the ‘Teacher’s Advocate,’ incumbent Tuscaloosa Board of Education District 6 representative Ginnye Capps is wholly committed to advancing education.

Having taught sixth grade in the Tuscaloosa City Schools system for 26 years and in Hale County for seven, Capps, 62, knows all too well how many improvements are sorely needed in education. She said she believes the biggest fundamental problem facing education is discipline.

Discipline vital part of education

“Children can’t learn, and teachers can’t teach if there’s no discipline,” Capps said. “I would always tell my kids [in the classroom] ‘It breaks my heart if you don’t want to learn, and I want you to learn, but if you don’t, please don’t disrupt anyone else.’ ”

In order for a classroom to run smoothly, Capps said, a child having a responsible parental figure is vital.

“All children have potential, it just takes a caring adult to help them find it,” she said. “Some of our children don’t have someone just because their parents were too young when they had them. Just because you can have a baby doesn’t make you a parent.”

Education essential to success

Capps has two granddaughters who attend school in Tuscaloosa. One is in seventh grade, and the other is in second. However, Capps said she would be every bit as committed to working on the school board even if she weren’t directly invested in the schools.

“I was very fortunate as a child to get an excellent public education, and I think it’s important that everyone does,” she said.

Capps said she believes data-driven programs help tremendously in the classroom. For example, she said she attended a teacher’s workshop a few weeks ago that was focused on thinking maps, which help students to chart their thought processes, especially when brainstorming.

She also said teachers in Arcadia Elementary have recently received smart boards for their classrooms. Smart boards can display a teacher’s computer screen for the class; they can also be controlled by touch, and teachers can make notes on the board with markers that are designed for it.

“It is extremely important that we always stay on top of practices that seem to be working in other places,” Capps said. “Sometimes, it comes from teachers that go to workshops.”

While serving on the board has not been easy, Capps said, it’s worth it.

“I didn’t choose education, it chose me,” she said. “My other board members say that I’m the teachers advocate, but that’s because influencing a teachers work environment influences a kid’s learning environment.

“I may be a teacher’s advocate, but that’s because I’m first a children’s advocate,” she said.