EDITORS NOTE: Now that we have published stories about the five candidates running for the District 2 seat of the Washington County Board of Education we will publish their stories online. The order will be as follows; Bob Cantler (Wednesday), Mary Beth Dellinger (Thursday), Todd Ganger (Friday), Phillip McLain (Saturday) and Vince Walters (Sunday). Each will appear in the Community News Section on the website.
By COLLIN BROOKS
Three decades of business experience have provided Bob Cantler with the knowledge of what a business expects from their employees. Now he wants to make sure that the students of Washington County have that know-how when they leave the system.
Cantler graduated from East Tennessee State University in 1985 with a degree in business administration, which he then parlayed into a 30-year career with different companies, including Hyatt Hotels and Opryland.
Along with that business experience he developed expectations for a strong workforce and, if elected to the Washington County Board of Education, those expectations are something that he hopes he can help pass on to Washington County students.
“Just seeing the challenges of the kids having the right skill sets when they get out of school, to be able to either get into the workforce or succeed when they go to college,” Cantler said. “I have just seen too many of our students struggle on both fronts.”
Cantler — whose background is in budgeting, strategic planning and communication — said he hopes that the board will be able to link some of the local businesses with the school system, similar to the setup that he has seen in Greene County.
“They have brought in the industrial companies and said ‘What skills sets are you looking for?’ and then they are able to develop curriculum that suits what the business community in the region is looking for,” Cantler said.
Cantler grew up in Johnson City, but his career took him to multiple metropolitan cities in the South. His wife, Diana Dishner Cantler, graduated from Daniel Boone and attended the Boones Creek schools, so he understands the need for a new school in the Boones Creek area. But more than that, he said building the new school will also give new Washington County Director of Schools Kimber Halliburton an opportunity to infuse her technology background into the system immediately.
“I think the (new) school is a great opportunity for Director (Kimber) Halliburton to come in and do some of the initiatives that she would like to do,” Cantler said. “When you build a new school, that is when you can start working on new things. If you wanted to make it more technology-centric, that is the time to do it or the opportunity to do it.”
Cantler said that he has done business with some of the commissioners over the years and having that relationship could help to extend the bridge between the Washington County Board of Education and the Washington County Commission. Johnson City and Washington County Commissioner David Tomita is the treasurer for Cantler’s campaign.
He also believes that developing the teachers of the county and helping them grow will bring advantages for the students. And while the school board angle might be new to him, he said that he will meet the challenge head on.
“I admit that I am a novice for how a school board operates,” Cantler said. “But I have a pretty good understanding from all my non-profit work of how an organization needs to function in certain ways to achieve their goals.”