• Pitt County Board of Education District 5

    Three Candidates 

    Jennifer Hodgson

    What is your current job and title?


    As of August 15, I assumed a new position as principal consultant for Health Management Associates. For 22 years prior to that, I have served as a professor at East Carolina University in the College of Health and Human Performance, Department of Human Development and Family Science in the Medical Family Therapy doctoral and Marriage and Family Therapy master’s programs.


    What is your highest level of education?


    I have my PhD in Human Development and Family Studies with a specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy.


    If you're elected or re-elected, what will be your top priority? Why?


    I believe the biggest issue that we are currently facing involves an uneven distribution of resources, information, and applied learning opportunities. These disparities are fueled by misuse and misunderstanding of information and a lack of transparency and effective communication strategies. As I have attended numerous school board meetings, listening to children, teachers, administrators, and parents in the community, I see great potential among us. I know not everyone sees things the same way, but that is where the best ideas are born. We just have to be willing to be curious about one another and listen to one another’s ideas openly and with humility. We have to be willing to give up a little to arrive at the great new idea. If this can happen, then all schools will be seen as excellent, well-resourced, and safe places to work and learn. While not all children and parents have the same needs and resources, we share more in common than we realize. Working together to be more student and community-centered will result in a thriving community. Pitt County Schools has the potential to be a model school system if we could learn to harness the energy in productive ways and lean toward one another versus away.


    If you're elected or re-elected, how will you involve your constituents in the process of making decisions?


    To advocate responsibly, I intend to be present in the schools and available to students, parents, teachers, administrators and school personnel who want to interact with me about school-based issues. I believe that to lead and advocate effectively at local governance and legislative levels, you need to be grounded in the real, not perceived, needs and concerns of your constituents, students, and other invested individuals. As a public official I plan to attend county and state-level trainings that will help prepare me for making responsible budgetary decisions and setting appropriate priorities regarding the equitable distribution of resources. I plan to conduct myself in accordance with the bylaws and rules that govern my school board duties and responsibilities and advocate within the scope of my position. I will advocate ANY chance I get for better teacher pay, benefits, and resources to help recruit, retain, and grow the profession.

    In addition, I plan to advocate for public education at the state level through expanding professional connections with leaders and engaging in ongoing meaningful dialogue with them. If there is one thing I learned through my professional experience it is that effective leaders commit energy to building genuine relationships with the target audience they intend to serve and support. That will be the focus for this year and the following years should I be elected to the Pitt County Board of Education.


    Why should voters choose you for the position you're running for?


    I believe voters should choose me because I have pre-kindergarten through college level experience in education, a strong record of community service, and skills as a licensed mental health professional and leadership that will allow me to be effective on the Pitt County Board of Education. In addition, I am passionate about making sure all children have access to the highest quality education. Where some see limitations, I see great potential. Where some fear changes, I see opportunity waiting to happen. However, I want to make sure that the voices of all those impacted will be included as we should not make changes about people without them.


    Which three things about you do you most want voters to know?


    The top three things voters want to know about are related to my experience in Pitt County and Pitt County Schools; my background and strengths in education; and my mission for serving on the Pitt County Board of Education. My responses are: (a) Pitt County has been my home for 22 years. My husband and I have three children who all attend Pitt County Public Schools; (b) I moved to Greenville, North Carolina, in 2000 to join colleagues at East Carolina University in writing and launching the first nationally accredited doctoral program in Medical Family Therapy. With almost 50 graduates since 2008, the program is a tremendous success! I am also a licensed marriage and family therapist trained to work with individuals, couples, families, and systems to achieve the changes they seek. My record volunteering for and working in pre-K, elementary, middle, high schools, and early college settings stands on its own. I will be bringing that same work ethic, collaborative skill set, and tenacity used throughout my career to the Pitt County Board of Education; and (c) My mission is to support Pitt County Schools in innovating, elevating, and growing while working to ensure each child and teacher has the resources needed to thrive.


    Is there anything else about you that you wish to tell voters?


    I am a parent of three children who attend Pitt County Schools. My oldest graduated May 2022 from JH Rose High School. Since my children have been enrolled in Pitt County Schools, I have been active in applied learning events such as Science Olympiad, where I coached at Elmhurst Elementary for two consecutive years. I volunteered my time at Elmhurst Elementary events, provided an EB Aycock Middle School tour assisted with proctoring for EOGs at EB Aycock and AG Cox Middle Schools, volunteered time to decorate sidewalks and spirit rocks for EB Aycock, annually purchase needed items for classrooms to help support the teachers’ and students’ projects, essential needs, and augment supplies. I have been attending Pitt County Board of Education meetings in-person since December 2021 as an invested parent and Board of Education candidate for District 5. I recently applied for the Parents for Pitt County Schools Parent Engagement Program 2022-2023 and have attended several of their Community Conversation events to listen to input from parents and teachers about the strengths and challenges facing Pitt County Schools. I have toured a great number of the elementary, middle, and high schools to familiarize myself on what distinguishes each one and who the leadership teams are that guide them. We have so much to be proud of in our schools. I want to make sure I am learning about the schools straight from those who learn and work inside them.