Five candidates vie for three Oakwood School Board seats

Oakwood High School and Miami University graduate Meredith Quigley will step down from her board of education seat effective Aug. 15, records show. FILE
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Oakwood High School and Miami University graduate Meredith Quigley will step down from her board of education seat effective Aug. 15, records show. FILE

Credit: FILE

Credit: FILE

Five candidates, including an incumbent, are competing for a trio of open seats on the Oakwood School Board.

It’s a time of change for the board, which in September appointed Beavercreek City Schools Human Resources Director Deron Schwieterman to replace Meredith Quigley, who resigned her seat in August for a move out of Ohio.

The move bypassed three applicants who today are seeking election to the board — Amy Honaker, Gwyn King and Laura Middleton, who are on the Nov. 2 election ballot. Candidate Lauren Kawai did not apply for the vacancy.

John Wilson is the incumbent in the race, seeking a second term.

Bypassing candidates already on the ballot was a decision district leaders said they made deliberately “to defer to the community’s evaluation” of the candidates on the ballot.

The timing of Quigley’s resignation eliminated the possibility of a special election, according to the district’s bylaws. Schwieterman will fill the remainder of Quigley’s term, until Dec. 31, 2023.

Wilson, Kawai and Middleton say they’re running on shared values if not quite a common platform, sharing some expenses and a web site.

In separate interviews, all three stressed diversity, equity and inclusion as areas that deserve renewed focus.

“We’re really good at teaching kids to be Midwestern nice. But businesses are saying, it’s a lot more than that,” Wilson said. “That’s no longer enough.”

They’re also running as individuals, the trio says. “We do have a lot in common but we also have our own specialties,” Middleton said.

“I think we’ve been trying to clear up a misconception that we’re all exactly the same,” Kawai said.

Honaker is a graduate of the Air Force Academy who has a master’s degree from Harvard. She’s from Tennessee but has lived in Oakwood for seven years.

“I’m really running for my kiddos,” Honaker said.

Amy Honaker, left, candidate for Oakwood School Board. Contributed
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Amy Honaker, left, candidate for Oakwood School Board. Contributed

She and her husband have four children, ages six to 11. Two of her children have individual education plans, including one who has Down’s Syndrome. So special needs education is a primary concern, and she wants to strengthen that in Oakwood.

“When you have a child who has special needs, it’s a little bit more of a struggle for the district,” she said.

Honaker wants Oakwood’s academic strengths to continue undeterred. And she hopes to improve the board’s communication and “transparency” with parents.

“I believe you should have straight talk from your school board and, quite honestly, include parents before (new programs) go out,” the former Air Force captain said.

Kawai grew up in Oakwood, graduating from the high school and earning a degree in elementary education. She taught second grade in North Carolina before returning to get a master’s in education at the University of Dayton.

Lauren Kawai, Oakwood School Board candidate. Contributed
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Lauren Kawai, Oakwood School Board candidate. Contributed

Her family includes three children, two of whom attend Smith Elementary, while her youngest is four. A busy community volunteer, when her first child was born, Kawai decided to stay home for a time.

“My background is in education, and I have a passion for students and teachers,” Kawai said.

Like other candidates, she emphasizes academic excellence.

“We need to attend to the whole child. That includes social and emotional wellness, especially since COVID,” Kawai said.

A dermatologist with Dayton Skin Care Specialists, King grew up in rural Northern Ohio. She says on her campaign web site that the COVID-19 pandemic was her “first real glimpse into the poor communication and transparency between the board” and the population, leading to her school board run.

Gwyn King, Oakwood School Board candidate
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Gwyn King, Oakwood School Board candidate

“I will create forums for parents and caregivers to openly discuss concerns, challenges, and worries,” she said in response to questions. “I will work with the district to provide timely feedback. I will personally remain open to communication and work to encourage parents to engage with myself and the board.”

Middleton is a clinical child and pediatric psychologist who works at Dayton Children Hospital and has a private practice. She feels her experience can be an asset to the district.

Laura Middleton, a candidate for Oakwood School Board. Contributed.
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Laura Middleton, a candidate for Oakwood School Board. Contributed.

Middleton also hopes to improve the district’s special education services, noting that the district does not have a full-time special education services director.

Oakwood needs to take into consideration working families, she also said. She laments limited capacity in the before- and after-school child care program. “That is something that is near and dear to me.”

Incumbent Wilson is married with three kids, two of whom have graduated, while the third is a senior in high school. He teaches at Greene County Career Center.

He wants to keep serving. He hopes to encourage a stronger understanding of nutrition and wellness, and he hopes to continue strengthening academic excellence — to reach that next level, ensuring that students get the resources they need to apply themselves fully to the task of learning.

John Wilson
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John Wilson