1000 x 90

School Board Candidates for Watauga County

2016Compiled by Jesse Wood

High Country Press reached out to the candidates for Watauga County Board of Education. Here are statements from the four candidates: Steve Combs, Ron Henries, Barbara Kinsey and Brenda Reese. Three seats are up for election. Early voting has already started in the Watauga County Administration Building on King Street. Learn more about voting sites, hours and see sample ballots here. 

Steve Combs


  • Married to Denise Combs for 19 years.
  • Two Daughters, Victoria, high school freshman; Skyler, 8th grader at Cove Creek
  • Son, Brandon, Music teacher for Charolette- Meckenburg School System
  • Worked at ABC Store for 30 years
  • Lay Minister for Methodist Church
  • Sunday School Teacher at Glenbridge Rehabilition, 3rd Sunday of each month.



I bring 12 years of school board experience from 2000-2012. I have hundreds of hours of master school board training. I have also been Vice- Chairman 3 times.

By having kids in school, I understand how things that go on in schools effects kids and families.  We need to do a better job of hiring local people, they don’t need to  have to drive outside of our county for jobs.  I do not support sending home computers with kids in the lower grades. They need time to learn the basics first, they need to be given time in the computer lab.

We need to maintain and update our facilities.

If elected, I would be the kind of school board member that would be there for staff and faculty.  I would be there for families. To be successful as a school system we need to work together. We need school board members that are seen in schools on a daily basis and that will communicate with people. I would also be the kind of school board member that welcomes phone calls, so that I could fix problems that school employees or families may have.


Brenda Reese

Bio & Statement

My name is Brenda Reese, and I am running for re-election to the Watauga County Board of Education. My two children and one grandson live in Watauga County, and my deceased husband, Andy, served on the Watauga County School Board for many years. I have recently retired after working as a substitute, house parent, teacher assistant, teacher, director of both state and federal programs, and principal (Mabel, Crossnore, and Freedom Trail). I am currently vice-chairperson for the Watauga County Board of Education.


I am proud of Watauga County Schools and honored that I am and have been affiliated with them. Watauga County is blessed to have Dr. Scott Elliott as our Superintendent and the wonderful support of our Central Office. And, after much turn over in a short amount of time, Watauga is finally experiencing continuity of services and programs. We now have plans in place for leading our system in the right direction for the future. Our Strategic Plan, based on input from many different sources, as well as our Capital Improvement Plan, reflect many hours of collaboration designed to help us best meet our needs. This is possible because our current Board works as a cohesive team.

I decided to accept the challenge and run for re-election as a way of giving back to a system which has supported me and given me so many opportunities. I have devoted my entire career to making life better for children of all ages. My experiences have provided me with a unique perspective and allowed me to serve as a dedicated and effective Board member. My top goals include recruiting and maintaining the best teachers possible, addressing early intervention, providing appropriate and adequate technology, and implementing our Capital Improvement Plan.

Being actively involved in all phases of education for over forty years provides me with a large knowledge base about educational issues. I am fortunate to have served in many positions in school systems over the years. I have worked in two of the larger (Mecklenburg and Wake) and two of the smaller counties (Avery and Watauga) in our state.

When I was principal at Mabel, our motto was: Dream! Believe! Strive! Succeed! That holds true for what I want for Watauga County Schools. We can do this! Recruiting and maintaining the best teachers is essential. We need to give them our full support and eliminate as many obstacles as possible to allow them to focus on teaching. Next we need to address the need for early intervention and pre-kindergarten services. Providing access to appropriate technology for all of our students is also important. Technology is integral to almost every current job and will be more so in the future. Our Board’s challenge is to meet these needs. Another pressing concern deals with the fact that our schools buildings are aging. Our Capital Improvement Plan for updating and building to meet current and future needs must be shared and funding located. This can be a complicated process when dealing with different agencies, laws, rules and regulations, especially when it come to budget decisions. Sharing these needs in way that everyone understands them is critical.

Experience does count as we “Dream! Believe! Strive! Succeed!” to make the best school system even better. Please vote for Brenda Reese for Watauga County Board of Education!

Contact Information: 

Brenda Reese

  • 185 Dutch Treat Road
  • Banner Elk, NC 28604
  • (828)406-1402
  • reeseb@watauga.k12.nc.us

Ron Henries

Ron Henries
Ron Henries

Bio: My name is Ron Henries and I am a candidate for re-election to the Watauga County Board of Education. I have served the past 43 years in public education. I am the current chair of the Watauga County Board of Education. I served Watauga County as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal from 1980 until

2003 when I retired as principal of Cove Creek School. Prior to that I served as principal at Bethel School and assistant principal at Hardin Park. I currently teach in the Reich College of Education at ASU in the Reading Education/Special Education Department. I have served eight years on the Special Olympics North Carolina Board of Directors and two years as chairman. I serve on the Watauga Recreation Commission and the Board of Watauga Opportunities, Inc. I attend Boone United Methodist Church.

Statement: I would like to continue the work the current Board of Education has made during the past few years. We are working on lowering the dropout rate, which this year set a record as the best in history. We have initiated innovative programs such as the Innovative Academy and the Alternative Learning Program at Watauga High School. We have expanded activities for students by adding middle school baseball and softball for 7th and 8th grade boys and girls. We continue to work with the county commissioners to improve our academic and athletic facilities. I believe that the board of education has an obligation to be completely transparent in working with the county government and public and we have made every attempt to do so.

Website: Join me on Linked In

Barbara Kinsey 

Barbara Kinsey
Barbara Kinsey

Editor’s Note: Kinsey didn’t respond to High Country Press’ request. You can learn more about Kinsey from when she campaigned for school board in 2012 here.

Here’s her answer on why she was running back then:

“Since I graduated from high school and chose the subjects I would major in at Baylor University in Texas, I have been passionate about maintaining and improving the quality of public education at all levels in theUnited States. I learned early that our Forefathers who founded this extraordinary experiment in democratic government understood three hundred years ago, and expected us to this day and beyond to understand, that a democracy cannot endure without an educated citizenry. Thomas Jefferson stated many times that without good public schools available to people of all socio-economic levels, the vision of a successful free and independent nation, under God, would be only that – a vision, not a reality. For the past several decades, North Carolina public schools have been exemplary in their levels of achievement and their production of outstanding public and private leaders who have inspired both our state and our nation. During the many years I have taught at Watauga High School, I have personally watched many students attend prestigious colleges and universities. Those students have become doctors, scientists, archaeologists, etc. Our county has consistently been at, or near, the top of excellent schools in North Carolina, and we must continue to offer that distinction to a population who values such excellence. I believe that I have much to contribute to those values and that distinction.”