Longtime Humble ISD board member Charles Cunningham currently holds Position 4 on the board and is being challenged by newcomer Abby Whitmire in the election on May 6.

Cunningham grew up in a small town filled with community pride, and is indebted to the talented teachers who inspired his passion for history and geography, which led to Army service and a degree from Our Lady of the Lake University. Cunningham has lived in Humble for 23 years where he is a key accounts consultant for CenterPoint Energy. To this day, Cunningham continues to value education, the area of volunteerism that he’s most passionate about. “When education is a priority, our children, teachers and community win,” Cunningham said.

What is the greatest challenge that Humble ISD will face in the next four years, during your term, and what remedies do you offer to address it? 

One of the greatest challenges Humble ISD will face will be management of our growth. When enrollment grows, needs grow. The district needs more space, more technology and more teachers, and I advocate elimination of temporary fixes and instead want to achieve long-term solutions.

Name one or two things you’ve done to help youth in our community or in other communities in which you’ve lived. 

My youth community service includes working with the Boys Scouts of America and serving as a youth Sunday school teacher at my church.

Are there educational innovations that you’ve seen other places that you would bring to our district? 

I would like to see our district fully implement a virtual school campus that allows our students flexibility in accommodating their different learning styles, engages them in team collaboration, and incorporates technology that is part of today’s world and workplace.

Do you have any comments regarding board priorities for the 85th Texas Legislative session? 

I am in favor of sustaining the HB4 grant funding. HB4 is a tremendous first step. The pipeline to building a skilled workforce begins with high quality pre-kindergarten. I will continue to advocate and invest in tomorrow’s workforce by supporting high quality pre-K education because it can reduce the achievement gaps.


Position 4 candidate Abby Whitmire is proud to be a product of Texas public schools, first as a student in New Braunfels ISD and then as a Longhorn at The University of Texas at Austin, where she earned a B.A. in government in 2006. She credits her amazing, committed and creative teachers who cared so deeply about their students. Whitmire is a firm believer that regardless of family income or living situation, all Texas children deserve great, well-resourced schools where teachers are both empowered and respected. “Creating a better community for children is a lifelong passion, and I relish the opportunity to have an even bigger impact on children’s lives as a school board member,” Whitmire said.

Do you feel that there is a communication divide between the community and the board? If so, how do you plan to bridge that divide to restore confidence in the board?

I do. A sizable portion of the community feels ignored or dismissed by the current board. If elected, I plan to set aside time weekly to meet with community members, parents and anyone who would like to talk to a board member, in addition to an open-door policy. I will take their perspectives to the full board and push for a respectful and thoughtful response. 

Name one or two things you’ve done to help youth in our community or in other communities in which you’ve lived. 

I was the development officer for the New Orleans office of The Posse Foundation, one of the most comprehensive and renowned college access and youth leadership development programs in the United States. Posse identifies public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential who may be overlooked by traditional colleges, and offers these students opportunities to pursue education via colleges and universities that partner with Posse to award four-year, full-tuition scholarships. It was an honor to advance such a mission.

Additionally, I have chosen volunteer projects that directly impact children in the community, such as training middle school students in the Safe Sitter program, participating in the Houston Holocaust Museum’s robust education and outreach program, and working with new teen moms at Ben Taub Hospital. 

How do you define student success? 

It’s more than the basic measurements of graduation rates and grades. I advocate a holistic approach to evaluating student success and want to see students develop critical thinking and reasoning skills, cooperate with others in a variety of settings, take responsibility for their actions, and learn how to be active and informed citizens in society. I would also love to see them enjoy learning and continue it beyond the classroom and for the rest of their lives. 

Do you think school board elections should be partisan and do you think candidates should be backed by a party? Would you accept an invitation to speak to a group that is clearly partisan and if so, why? 

Educating our kids to reach their full potential is a value we all share, regardless of political affiliation. This is why school board elections should remain non-partisan. Political parties may decide to support particular candidates, and as a candidate or future school board member, I would not decline invitations to speak to any group. This district belongs to all of us, and everyone deserves to be addressed with dignity and respect. 

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Jacqueline Havelka
Author: Jacqueline HavelkaEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I am a rocket scientist turned writer. I worked at Lockheed Martin-Johnson Space Center for many years managing experiments on the Space Station and Shuttle, and I now own my own firm, Inform Scientific, specializing in technical and medical writing and research program management. I am a contributing correspondent to The Tribune, a Kingwood resident for 12 years, and proud mom to two Aggie sons.

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