PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Page Valley News will be publishing profiles of local candidates in contested races for this fall’s elections over the next few weeks. PVN will begin with the chairman of the Page County School Board.
• Age: 44
• Education: B.S., Health Science, Bridgewater College, 1999; North East High School, North East Maryland, 1995.
• Work: Program Director, Page Alliance for Community Action (PACA), 2015-present; Deputy Clerk of School Board, Page County Public Schools, 2015-2018; Financial Clerk for Federal and State Grants/Secretary to the Superintendent, Page County Public Schools, 2013-2015; Computer Lab Assistant, Shenandoah Elementary School, 2008-2013; Scheduler/Shipping Supervisor, Neuman Aluminum, 2006-2007; Quality Support/Lab Tech, Coors Brewing Company, 2001-2006; Materials Manager, KVK Precision, 1999-2001.
• Community service: PACA-Parent Representative and elected as Secretary/Treasurer; Shenandoah Recreation League-Vice President, Coach; Page AAU-Administrator.
• Family: Husband, Buck; daughters, Kate and Maddie; son, Tristan.
• Why are you running for public office?
As a resident of Page County for almost 20 years, I have been fortunate to raise my children here and support them as they received their education from many wonderful teachers in our school division. I saw first hand how important it was for our community to make education a priority.
I am running for the chairman position so I can continue to advocate for quality educational opportunities for all children and strive to build strong relationships between the school division and our community. Serving in this public office would allow me to work for the community that I love.
The policies and decisions of the school board have a direct impact on our children and their families. I want to be part of that governing process to represent their interests. I consider the Board Chairman position as an opportunity for me to utilize my skills to foster good relationships between the board and school staff, parents, and other community and government organizations, so that together we can maximize our resources to serve the interests of our children.
I realize that the job of serving the public as a school board member is a very difficult one. Decisions must be made that will not be popular with everyone. I am committed to trying to serve the best interests of the students as my first priority.
• What makes you the best candidate?
My experience working as the Deputy Clerk of the School Board has given me practical and in-depth knowledge of the appropriate procedures and responsibilities of the school board members and the chairman of the board.
I believe there are many who do not understand that the board’s role is policy and NOT day-to-day operations. When board members attempt to take on responsibilities that are not theirs, a system is not able to function correctly. Maintaining those roles is critical to an effective board.
Working at the central office with state and federal funding, I also have a working knowledge on the importance of these funds as part of our total school budget.
As the Program Director for the youth coalition, PACA, I have collaborated extensively with parents, youth, local governments, schools, businesses and other community partners to recognize the importance of the social emotional health of our students and their families in achieving success. These relationships are critical to making a difference in our schools and community.
As the chairman, I will continue to be accessible for our citizens who might have concerns or issues about our school division. Open communication is the key to success in all relationships.
• What is most pressing issue for Page County Public Schools?
The COVID-19 pandemic and the implications it has for face-to-face instruction continues to be the most important issue facing our school division. The uncertainty of the past year has demonstrated the challenge and controversy involved with actions designed to keep students, families, school staff and community members safe while providing for our children’s educational needs.
It has become clear that in-person instruction is vital to meet the needs of our children. I know that our staff, administration and teachers have faced incredible challenges to deliver this type of instruction under the threat of COVID-19. I believe the first responsibility of the board is to support and encourage the efforts that are being made.
The second priority should be to assist in disseminating accurate information to the community so that rumors, false assumptions, and misunderstandings are minimized to the greatest extent possible. That means that administration must communicate with the School Board members when issues arise that may be cause for concern. School Board members must be ready to assist in pointing the community to accurate information.
Helping the Superintendent to earn the trust of the community is also a need. While I support strong academics, I also recognize that social emotional health is critical to building resiliency at home and in our community.
• What is one thing that you would like to change or improve about the local school division?
I would work to improve the transparency and accountability of the school division’s Strategic Plan to help guide our decision-making as a governing body for our schools. This working document needs to communicate to our parents and community about our objectives each year. Currently, I see a six-year plan, but not an annual plan that includes measurable objectives, actions and timelines to reach those objectives or the personnel and resources that are needed to obtain those objectives.
As the Program Director of PACA, I collaborate with our community partners to develop an annual action plan to ensure we are addressing our coalition’s mission each year. It keeps us focused and on track within our budget.
I am ready to work with our school division and superintendent to make our annual plan available to the public, and find ways to educate those who are interested in understanding it so we can make informed decisions about our budget and personnel and progress toward our goals.
• Briefly describe a decision you have made in a leadership role and tell why you made that decision.
Being a parent is the most important leadership role that I have experienced. As parents, it is critical that we focus on providing an emotionally safe and supportive environment while meeting the basic needs of our children. It also means setting clear limits and helping them to set goals, despite what their peers may be doing.
I have found that it is my actions, more than my words, that have made the greatest impact on my children. They have reinforced for me the importance of someone who can listen, reflect, and truly seek to understand before reacting as a factor in shaping their own responses to challenges in their lives.
I strive to provide them with an example of what it means to be a leader. I have also deliberately modeled service to the community through my involvement in a variety of youth activities. It is my belief that leadership is rooted in service, in rolling up your sleeves and getting involved at the ground level.
As a working parent with three active children, I have sometimes been stretched to perform effectively at work and remain actively involved in the community. However, it was important to me that my “walk” line up with my “talk” in regards to commitment. I believe that commitment is what enables me to lead in an elected role.