Candidate profile: Aaron Schuster

Courtesy photo

Name: Aaron Schuster

Age: 37

Immediate Family members: Wife, Kedra and two sons, Noah and Owen.

Town: Highland

Office seeking: Board of Education member

Occupation: Automotive Technology Instructor

Previous and current elected offices and terms served: None

Why are you running? I owe it to my children, my community, and all the people who have helped me to become who I am today. I love education and it means the world to me. I have learned a ton as a parent, husband, and teacher of 14 years in a diverse school. I just hope the people of Highland believe it can be that simple.

What is the most important issue facing the Highland Community Unit School District? How would you approach it? Every school in the state is feeling financial distress and regulations forced upon them from the state level. I believe that in Highland, we have a very unique and wonderful school environment. Our Future Farmers of America program is spectacular and should be supported with science, technology, engineering, and math classes. Our athletics, band, and choir programs are also wonderful and need the support of facility upgrades. Our academics are rigorous and are preparing students well for college. Throughout my quest for the school board position, I have learned that these programs are all supported by some of the most tenacious and wonderful parents I could ever imagine. The teachers in our district are some of the most dedicated that I have ever met. All of that said, we still have students who fall through the cracks and do not succeed. I want to see a school that has a variety of opportunities to catch as many students as possible before failing. I am excited to work hard to help as many programs as possible. There is a huge distrust between the board, teachers, and parents. This struggle has created a tremendous gap in our community and I hope my efforts can bridge us back together. Long story short, my answer is distrust.

Should a school district’s teacher demographics mirror that of its student demographics? Why or why not? This is a simple answer for me. It is important to have teachers that students feel comfortable to confide in, however at the end of the day, I want the best teacher for the job to teach my kids. A great teacher will fill any role asked of them, same as a great parent. I think we can all agree that race or income is irrelevant.

How much emphasis should your school district put on STEM education? A ton if you ask me. I could talk for days on this subject; I believe in technology education with all my heart. STEM programs bridge so many gaps between scholar students and students who learn better in a vocational setting. I think we generalize “going to college.” Students today need to know that there is not one traditional path they have to take in terms of going to college. Many jobs that fall under STEM technology do not require a four year degree, but are excellent career paths. Don’t get me wrong, there are a ton of jobs that require a bachelor’s degree or beyond, and I respect those careers greatly. I would not be where I am today without a vocational school and a four year university. I can sum up my thoughts on STEM technology with this: You can have all the knowledge in the world, but you cannot build if you don’t know which end of the hammer to swing.

Do you support the Madison County sales tax referendum to benefit school facilities? Why or why not? I do support the sales tax and I would love to explain why. Despite popular belief, cars, trucks, ATV’s, boats, RV’s, mobile homes, groceries, drugs, farm equipment, and parts are all exempt from this tax. In addition if it is not currently taxed, it will not be taxed. The greatest thing about this tax is it allows a choice for consumers to buy the goods that are taxed or not. Money spent in the county stays in the county to help our schools. The money cannot be used for salaries, operating costs, computers, instructional material, etc. The money can be used for repairs, renovation, energy conservation, and new facilities. I know first hand that many facilities in our district could use some improvements and this tax would help tremendously with that. Improving the buildings is not just great for student and staff moral, but is also great for our community.

Why should people vote for you? I have lived in Highland my entire life. I am a taxpayer and a former business owner in Highland. I am a dedicated teacher that believes in not only education, but in being a role model. I am fortunate to have a lovely wife who provides the foundation for our family every step of the way. We are parents who are involved and care deeply about having schools that will provide the most avenues possible for our children. I am prepared to work for the community and serve my part because I owe those who have helped me. I have absolutely no agenda other than that. I hope people believe that and take the time to write me in.