As a mom of a disabled child and a former public school teacher, Jennifer Aprea believes she would be the ideal fit as District 5 representative on the Williamson County Board of Education.
Her personal experience in special education comes not only from her role as parent to an 8-year-old son who is vision impaired and deaf, but also in her current job as director of Family Engagement in Special Education at the Arc of Tennessee.
“I feel like I would be a voice for kids with disabilities,” said Aprea, whose son, Ryan, and 9-year-old daughter, Dani, are entering second and third grade respectively at Trinity Elementary School. “I also have elementary classroom experience, which I think is important for understanding where teachers are coming from, where funding is coming from, things like that.
“Since my son was born prematurely and came home from the NICU [neonatal intensive care unit] with all these complications, I had to quit teaching and basically work around his schedule. So when he started school full-time, I was able to finally go back to work, and started working for the Arc of Tennessee, a nonprofit that supports families with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“I’ve always been an advocate for my own son, but I’ve also advocated for other families who have any issues with special needs services.”
Aprea is one of three candidates seeking the District 5 seat that is being vacated by Gary Anderson, current chair who served on the board for 30 years before announcing his retirement last spring. Others are Margie Johnson and Brian Snyder. Election day is Thursday, Aug. 6, and early voting continues through Saturday.
Aprea, her husband, David, and two children moved to Arrington nearly five years ago from southern California, where she spent 12 years as an elementary school teacher. Her education experience and influence went beyond the classroom, as she was elected five times by her peers to leadership in professional organizations.
She has been appointed to multiple board and advisory committees over the years, including an appointment by Gov. Bill Lee to serve on the advisory board to Westat, the Federal Comprehensive Center for Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia. Comprehensive centers conduct research and provide technical assistance to states and districts in meeting their goals for students.
“I’ve always felt called to serve on the school board,” Aprea said. “As a parent, teacher and advocate for students with disabilities, I knew this would be the greatest way for me to get involved in our local schools and make a difference for students, families and educators in Williamson County."
As the days wind down toward the election, Aprea said she has mostly been using social media and other online methods for campaigning. And though the coronavirus pandemic has limited any door-to-door meet-ups or otherwise in-person interactions, she has still had the opportunity to meet constituents.
“It’s been fun meeting families from across District 5,” she said. “I’m not really a politician so it’s a little difficult to gauge, but it seems the feedback I’ve received has been very supportive.”
The Williamson Home Page is profiling the five candidates running for Districts 3 and 5 seats on the Williamson County Board of Education. Up next is District 5 candidate Margie Johnson.