Justin Farnsworth has a goal to help turn Dorchester District Two into a “world-class district.”
That is why Farnsworth has thrown his hat into the ring and is running in DD2’s board election.
“The big thing I want is to make a positive difference in our community,” he said. “You look at it right now and we have a great school district … but I don’t know it’d be considered a world-class district.
“I think we’re getting there but I think we have to have really the best leadership that we can put on our school board if we’re going to continue down that path.”
Farnsworth ran for school board in 2012. At the time three seats were available. The numbers did not work out in Farnsworth’s favor but he holds onto a particular saying: “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.”
“I had a lot of experience, met a lot of great people in our community and just knew I could make a difference,” he said. “So that’s what is important to me in this go around to give it another try.”
Farnsworth is vice president of operations at Automated Trading Desk in Mt. Pleasant. He will have been married to his wife Jessica 12 years in August and has two children in the district: Blake is a rising third-grader and Zoe is a rising kindergartener at Flowertown Elementary.
Farnsworth said Jessica has taught third grade at Flowertown Elementary and will be a Title One facilitator next year.
The family ties to DD2 is another push for Farnsworth to get involved with the school board.
“For me a lot of it is about the community and the relationships,” he said, adding he feels many people are not familiar with the board or what it actually does. “Which is unfortunate; the school board manages $150 million worth of taxpayers’ money every year.
“They also manage our children’s day to day lives so I think it’s really important that we do everything we can to have that positive communication and those relationships, which I will bring to the board.”
Farnsworth also hopes to bring a perspective on business and finance to the board. He recently finished his MBA from the Rochester Institute of Technology and feels it is important to have that business perspective. “I think it’s important that we have really good people —people with vested interest — on our board,” he said. “To me if you don’t have that vested interest than you won’t make decisions that are in the best interest of what’s important, and that’s our kids.”
Looking forward, Farnsworth hopes to assist in the ongoing construction projects by making sure the district stays within budget and that the buildings are built in an expeditious manner – safely, and in the interest of the kids, parents and educators, and make sure the schools are what the community needs “for the best price possible.”
Farnsworth currently serves on the advisory board for DD2’s Edge Academies, which is through a partnership between the Chamber and DD2.
Edge Academies are career academies within the district’s high schools. Right now there is a STEM academy and next year there will be an academy for business, finance and management.
Farnsworth was part of Leadership Dorchester 2013, and his class worked to promote the Sweet Tea Trail and placed banners on Main Street. Farnsworth also just found out that he has been accepted into Leadership Carolina. He is also part of the Education Foundation, which is also part of the Chamber and facilitates the Principal for a Day program — something Farnsworth does every year.
“That’s been interesting to see what principals go through every day,” he said. “With Jessica as a teacher I thought I had an idea. Then you’re in there and you follow this principal and they’re just everywhere. They’re unbelievable — I can’t even describe the whirlwind of events they have to deal with day in and day out.”
For just over a year Farnsworth was also co-chair of the Oversight Committee – recently rebranded as the Yes4Schools Committee.
“DD2 continues to grow at a record pace and people move here because of our schools,” he said. “People see we have great schools, great teachers and we have a great community.
“So I want to make sure we’re taking that and building on all of those aspects.”