By Brittany Llorente
MARTIN COUNTY -
After winning the Martin County Superintendent of Schools' election by 8,092 votes, Laurie Gaylord is ready for November.
Mrs. Gaylord described the campaign process as "grueling" but took the challenge headfirst into the race to become superintendent when incumbent Nancy Kline's term is over.
Friends, family and the community stepped forward to help with the campaign process. Mrs. Gaylord is no stranger to elections, holding a seat on the school board for two years, but she said this campaign was huge.
"I had a lot of support," she said. "I had great volunteers and support from the community financially, and people volunteered their time. This is the first campaign where I had people who had responsibilities such as managing a calendar, booking venues and scheduling meetings."
Her son, Jared, 21, was a large part of the social media aspect of the campaign.
"It was a big learning experience for him, the good and the bad," Mrs. Gaylord said. "He was able to attend functions, use technology and check Facebook. He was a huge part."
When the votes were tallied, Mrs. Gaylord was the clear winner.
"Election night was overwhelming," she said. "It's hard to describe the feeling because you just don't know until you get there. It was such a big win, though, and a mandate by Martin County that we wanted change."
Mrs. Gaylord's major focus of change will be the climate of the district and the working environment.
"(While a board member) I saw that there was a divided climate and a lack of respect to the board at meetings," she said. "We have had claims against the district as a hostile work environment. I want people to be proud of the things they do because, bottom line, it impacts our students at the end of the day. If the employees aren't happy, then it trickles to the school sites and we don't want that trickle-down effect. We want a working relationship and an improved climate."
In the past, the Exceptional Student Education program was a large part of the school district, focusing on programs that serve the students with disabilities and gifted students.
"We've lost providers and personnel in that program," Mrs. Gaylord said. "I would like to see it restored."
Until November, Mrs. Gaylord has time to make plans and focus on the schools.
"I'm really looking forward to getting in there and making a difference," she said. "I really want to see the success of all students. I think that to see your students do great things is the goal of the district. We want (the students) successful in everything from academics, extracurricular, technical and whatever it is that makes them successful. I truly mean that."