Kanawha County School Board member Becky Jordon is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in — even if it’s unpopular.
In her 12 years on the school board, she’s been vocal, and often in the middle of the school district’s most controversial issues.
Most recently, she found herself at the forefront of a much-debated dress code policy for teachers (which has since been dropped,) and last year, was criticized for her involvement in a Christian-sponsored abstinence event that rocked George Washington High School, making national headlines.
Over the years, the same unfiltered demeanor some have criticized her for has brought about major change — she’s spearheaded several controversial policies, pushing for drug dog visits to be allowed in schools to curb drug use and putting school service personnel in uniforms to increase safety precautions.
“I’m not afraid to take on a tough issue,” said Jordon, 53, of Charleston, who’s running for re-election in next month’s election.
Jordon pushed for an earlier school start day last year, saying students should end the semester before Christmas break, which received much opposition. But following a chemical leak into the Elk River, which canceled several days of school, the record-early start put Kanawha County in a better position than other affected school districts because it meant a fresh start and less catch-up.
“But it’s not like I know it all,” she said. “There’s still a lot more to do.”
Jordon’s current focus is on better preparing students for the workforce and on getting more families enrolled in pre-K programs.
She says the reason she’s so passionate is because she is, and always has been, a KCS parent during her time on the school board.
When she was elected to the board more than a decade ago, she was the first parent with children in the public school system that had been on the board in years.
“I realized that nobody on that board had a child — had that perspective,” she said. “When I wake up in the morning, I’m a mom before anything else. Then I put on my school board hat. And sometimes what I learn as a parent, I take back to the school board.”
In her career before her school board days, she didn’t shy away from the tough stuff either.
Jordon has a master’s degree in social work from West Virginia University and has worked for Child Protective Services, on the psychiatric unit at Thomas Hospital and in prisons, helping inmates who struggle with drug and alcohol addictions.
Her son graduates from George Washington next month and her daughter is an 8th-grader at John Adams Middle, who will also attend GW — ranked among the top public schools in the state.
Jordon is aware of accusations that she cares more about the concerns of her privileged South Hills community, but that’s not true, she says, pointing to her career in social work and also saying, “I grew up on the West Side.”
“That really bothers me because I care about every child in Kanawha County Schools — especially the ones in need,” she said.
Reach Mackenzie Mays at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 304-348-4814.