By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Henry Fudge has always been involved with kids, whether it was being a dad, teaching science, coaching sports, or pastoring a church. He has taught in the private and public school sector, and has coached several sports including volleyball and basketball. His father, Bennie Lee was one of the founders of Athens Bible School, which was the first place Henry taught and coached, and he has also spent the last 55 years perfecting the art and science of swine husbandry.
Henry received his education degree from Athens State University, and loves to teach science to middle schoolers. “There is something about that age group,” he told me. “They are still young enough to ‘not know everything’ and old enough to ask great questions. I love all kids, but they are my favorite age group,” he added. The day we chatted about his run for Limestone County School Board, District 1, he was on his way to finish and hand in all of the paperwork needed to get recertified as a substitute teacher. He knows that the best way to be able to serve students and their families is to be “boots on the ground” in the classroom, in the halls, and on the courts. Henry is a spry 76, full of experience, wisdom, and humor, and he is deeply concerned about students of all ages. He has preached for 55 years and pastored a church that was about half-white and half-black. He also has been through the “school of hard knocks,” having lost his 16-year old son in a car accident, riding the rollercoaster of being an entrepreneur, and having a heart attack over 11 years ago. One of his most valuable life lessons is that it does not pay to “worry your way through anything.” While his faith certainly has kept him through the toughest storms of life, he has learned that managing stress and having a healthy lifestyle are invaluable. He now looks forward to being back in the classroom and serving the families of Limestone County as a school board member.
Henry understands how much students need their parents in order to be successful, and told me that when he was teaching full time, it took about two weeks to tell who only had one parent in the home. One of the things he wants to do if elected is to find ways to get dads and moms back in schools to help in the places their kids are the most vulnerable, and that is not physically. “The county schools are in pretty good shape when it comes to being able to keep kids safe, but that is not what concerns me. It’s the kinds of things they are being taught and not taught. Alabama is in real trouble when it comes to education, but it’s not too late to do something about it. Just a few years ago, Florida was about where we are now, and now they are up here,” he gestured in an upward manner before a luncheon of Republican women.
How did Florida do it? A lot of it had to do with using common sense. First of all, they eliminated Common Core curriculum. Another thing they did was to change the one giant annual assessment, which was held at the end of the school year, and break it up into three smaller tests conducted in the fall, winter, and spring, which took less time, and gave opportunity for improvement while school was still in session. Testing took 75% less time, which freed up more time to teach; it gave schools and teachers two more chances to get the school out of failing status, parents were more involved, and overall, it was much less stressful for everyone. One elementary school went from a D rating to a C rating in one year, and has continued to improve. And, it needs to be understood that this school was in an economically depressed area, considered to be scholastically challenged, and they did it during COVID. These are some of the ideas Henry would like to see implemented in Limestone County if elected.
When it comes to what Henry Fudge pledges, here is what he says:
“As a Christian, husband, proud grand and great-grandfather, teacher and coach, I know children are the future of our community. I will defend our values and fight for our children if elected to the Limestone County School Board!”
If this is what you are looking for in a member of the Limestone County Public School Board, then Henry Fudge would appreciate your vote on November 8.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner