Elections 2016: Florida House Of Representatives District 40 Candidate Shandale Terrell
Shandale Terrell started at the bottom, growing up in low-income housing in Lakeland’s Eaton Park.
Terrell says his time in low-income housing shaped his life, career and, now, his campaign for Florida House Representative District 40. As a youngster, Terrell was placed in slow-learning disability classes in the third grade. He worked his way into regular school classes.
Age: 40 Education: Bachelor of science degree in education from Florida A&M University; master of science degree in education leadership, and a doctoral degree in education with a concentration in higher education leadership and a minor in urban education from Nova Southeastern University. Occupation: ESE Support facilitator at Crystal Lake Middle School, Lakeland Political experience: None.
At first, athletics seemed to be his ticket out. Terrell said his goal was to go to college and someday play in the National Football League. An athletic scholarship to Auburn University was the beginning of that dream. After three years of playing football, however, he was injured.
“God called it otherwise,” Terrell says. “I got diagnosed with an internal injury, a pinched nerve, and I started to downplay my athletic performance and decided to concentrate more so on education.”
Terrell continued his education and earned a doctoral degree in education from Nova Southeastern University.
After receiving his doctorate, Terrell moved back home and started supporting his Lakeland community and working in the school system. One of his colleagues, Annette Lee, has worked with Terrell for about three years at Crystal Lake Middle School and is supporting Terrell’s campaign.
“I know he loves children and education. His campaign is running on his doctorate in education and keeping the children off the streets, anything that has to do with children.” Lee says. “That’s what made me pay attention to him. He’s a public community activist, specifically about the children. He’s a hard worker, even when people are down and tired, he keeps going.”
Terrell’s platform is focused on expanding the business community, fixing gang violence and crime issues, creating better healthcare for the mentally ill and disabled and creating more opportunities for students to pass, instead of fail.
“I’d like to provide more funding for VPK and Pre-K programs. That way more children can enter programs and then they have the academic literacy from a young age to move forward,” Terrell says. “I’d like to see more consistency with standardized testing throughout the school year. No more changes during the academic school year because it’s not fair to the children and faculty staff. Four to five years of consistency of testing increases morale and creates growth.”
Terrell says his stances on health care for the mentally ill and disabled also tie in to his stand on crime.
“If you look at the statistics, the majority of crimes are being committed by these people who have special needs and mental illnesses, and it seems these services to help them are being cut in Florida, which we want to change,” Terrell says.
Terrell works with the Gang Task Force to help youth in Polk County get out of gangs and rehabilitate themselves. Terrell also has been a member of The Florida Education Fund and the United Way of Central Florida’s Young Leaders Society.
Lauren Lipka is a student journalist attending the University of South Florida Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications. This story was produced as part of the school’s Advanced Reporting or Public Affairs class this semester, under the leadership of instructors Wayne Garcia and Wendy Whitt.