Q & A with Sonya Williams, District 9 Board of Education Candidate

Sonya Williams (1)This is part of an ongoing series of interviews with the 2018 Prince George’s County Board of Education candidates. Sonya Williams is the incumbent from District 6 (see district map here) running in the June 26 primary election. Ms. Williams answered questions generated by members of Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools.

Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools does not endorse or oppose any candidate for the Board of Education.

Tell us about your background and your plans to move our school system forward. Why do you want to be on the Board of Education?

BACKGROUND: Born in DC, raised in Prince George’s County since the age of 5, and educated through Prince George’s County Public Schools, I graduated from Crossland High School at the age of 16. I began my college career at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore studying Engineering. I received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering specializing in Project Management from the University of Maryland College Park. I also have a Masters Degree in International Organizational Leadership from Georgetown University.

As a Civil Engineer, I’ve worked on many projects throughout the county, state and nation. Most notable projects include working as an intern on the construction of the WSSC Headquarters building in Laurel, I was a part of the project management team on the construction of the first expansion of Pier C at BWI Airport, the construction of the International Terminal at BWI Airport, the development of Tanger Outlets and the Clipper Way road construction.

Through my career, I have managed organizations, teams and offices that have built structures, procured services and developed infrastructure. I have work with people of many and varied education levels, backgrounds, cultures and experiences. As a member of the board, it is important to have different perspectives, because as a leader of an organization as large as PGCPS with the diversity in students being serviced, parents, partners, employees and stakeholders, the ability to provide perspective and context.

FUTURE PLANS FORWARD: Since I became a board member, my primary focus has been infrastructure and structural change. The infrastructure of PGCPS is varied and fluctuates, from the types and age of our buildings, to the procedures use to perform the work. Our infrastructure and structures in place that impacts the operation and outcomes show the scars of too many stops and starts as leadership has changed through out the years. My goal is to focus on stabilizing the foundations in our systems so that real decisions can be made with clear information and integrity. What that means is that how information is shared is standardized, what type of information is shared is standardized, the frequency in which the information is shared is standardized, and how we report on the work (data and outcomes) is standardize. Once the standards are clear and concise, we can begin to show and move towards the goal of success.

My accomplishments thus far in this direction since I became a board member has been spearheading changes to how and when the Board budget priorities are incorporated in the budget development process, changes to staff reports to the board, changes to agenda item details, attachments and other information to make us more effective decision makers and inquire with more pinpoint detail. I plan to continue that process to make structural changes so that the work of the Board is more informed, efficient and effective.

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Q & A with Arun Puracken, District 9 Board of Education Candidate

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This is part of an ongoing series of interviews with the 2018 Prince George’s County Board of Education candidates. Arun Puracken is a candidate from District 9 (see district map here) running in the June 26 primary election. Mr. Puracken answered questions generated by members of Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools.

Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools does not endorse or oppose any candidate for the Board of Education.

Tell us about your background and your plans to move our school system forward. Why do you want to be on the Board of Education?

I am a 7th/8th Grade Social Studies Teacher at Accokeek Academy. I graduated from Largo High School and UMBC. After college, I taught in Baltimore City for a year with Americorps, and then came back home to teach in Prince George’s County. Teaching has been my entire professional career.

I currently serve as the Social Studies Department Chair as well as the Advisor for the Student Government Association/ Debate Team, Teacher Representative for the PTSA, and Teacher’s Union representative at his school.

I am focused on more accessible and strengthened speciality academic/vocational programs, equitable technology access, raising educator compensation, creating community schools, fully staffing schools, prioritizing facility maintenance/renovation, and ensuring appropriate boundaries to reduce classroom size.

I want to be on the Board of Education because not one elected member of the Board has taught in a public school in this county. That is a very valuable perspective that is missing. Secondly, my experiences at Accokeek Academy has shown me the great inequity in the system. I teach in a $30 million building with a Chromebook for every child in my classroom. So many families, students, and my colleagues at other schools do not have the same access to this quality of educational experience. My goal with this campaign is to bring this equity and ethics back to PGCPS.

What would be your top three priorities while serving on the board, if elected?

  • Strengthening and making more accessible high quality speciality academic/vocational programs
  • Raising educator compensation
  • Fully staffing/repairing schools

What qualities do you believe are most important in a Chief Executive Officer?

First, I believe that a Chief Executive Officer should be referred to as a Superintendent or another school-centered term/methodology instead of CEO, which to me, instills a singular business mindset. It is important that we do not turn schools completely into a business model as it can place economic incentives as leverage for decision making starting from the top tier leadership.

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Q & A with Matt Green, District 9 Board of Education Candidate

Screen Shot 2018-05-23 at 10.39.16 AMThis is part of an ongoing series of interviews with the 2018 Prince George’s County Board of Education candidates. Matt Green is a candidate from District 9 (see district map here) running in the June 26 primary election. Mr. Green answered questions generated by members of Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools.

Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools does not endorse or oppose any candidate for the Board of Education.

Tell us about your background and your plans to move our school system forward. Why do you want to be on the Board of Education?

I am a husband, family man, and father of four school age children vested in theirs and other children’s education, education choices and future. I am also a volunteer coach for a 3/4U flag football team, youth wrestling coach, President of a Youth Club, retired military leader, advocate and mentor. I am running with the encouragement and support of family, friends and neighbors.

Many feel based on my prior career as a Military Officer, I’d be a good fit for the Board of Education with my ability to prioritize, organize, be transparent, communicate, and make things happened. I have had the opportunity to interface with national and international governing officials at many levels from the start of my military career. I’ve also been in roles of diplomacy that included but weren’t limited to organization and nation building in both peacekeeping and combat environments. I’ve often been complimented on my demeanor to react calm and intelligently under pressure, while positively influencing the situation and others around me. I look for the opportunity to learn from not only my mistakes, but those of others and applying lessons learned.

What would be your top three priorities while serving on the board, if elected?

1) Along with a team of constituents, get into the schools with our students and educators to see things in action firsthand (this would include unannounced visits as the District 9 Board of Education Representative to keep a true prospective); next I’d prioritize and organize what needs to be done based on firsthand research, findings, parents and community feedback, research and align/reference policy and legislation; take action to fix problems.

2) Build rapport in the community; our community needs to know and understand their Board of Education representatives work for the students, educators, parents and community. This means having the tough conversations to solve problems, understanding that if it is torn down, there is the inherent responsibility to build back up (even stronger), going above and beyond to address and resolve concerns at local, state and possibly national level.

3) Bring Back the Pride; there are a lot of good news stories occurring across Prince George’s County Schools. We owe it to our students, educators, parents and community to highlight and share how great we are with the world. As well as continually growing Prince George’s County talent pool, we have a responsibility to share our positives with the world too.

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Q & A with Belinda Queen, District 6 Board of Education Candidate

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This is part of an ongoing series of interviews with the 2018 Prince George’s County Board of Education candidates. Belinda Queen is a candidate from District 6 (see district map here) running in the June 26 primary election. Ms. Queen answered questions generated by members of Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools.

Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools does not endorse or oppose any candidate for the Board of Education.

Tell us about your background and your plans to move our school system forward. Why do you want to be on the Board of Education?

I am running for Board of Education because my heart and passion is for the growth and progress of our children. As for my background Growing up, I was an active member of the 4-H Club. I have internalized the essence of 4H: Hands, Head, Heart and Health. Hand for greater service, head for clearer thinking, heart for greater loyalty and health for better living. The 4H Motto is to “Make the Best Better” when I became of age, as a result of my 4H experience, I became a leader.

For over 35 years I have worked fulfill the 4H Motto. I would like the opportunity to apply that same concept within Prince George’s County Board of Education and for the Prince George’s County Schools.

I am a Proud PGCPS Graduate, mother of 11 Central High School graduates, 3 of my own, 5 of my stepchildren and 4 of my Foster/guardianship children. I currently have 3 still attending. I have eleven grandchildren in the school system as well. There can be no question that I have an invested interest in the successfulness of our school system.

I am ready to do all I can to see that, as a whole, We Win! I have volunteered in various PTA, PTSA and PTO positions along with being a past officer of the PGC Council of PTA’s. I’m still an active member of, at least, four schools. I have served and worked in the schools from North, South to Central from Wheatly ES, Thomas Claggett ES, Springhill Lake ES, Crossland. Walker Mill MS, Central HS and more.

I have worked as a substitute teacher, office worker or where I was needed for over two years and even served as Principal for a Day to get hands-on experience at the school.

As a believer of not just talking about it, but being about it I have gained a great deal of hands-on experience serving and giving back in the school system and to school-aged children (regardless if they were mine or not).

I have received many awards for my service as a parent and grandparent.  I am a strong community activist and involved in the Community as Chair of the District 3 Police Coffee Circle, VP of the Coalition of Central Civic Association, 37 years as an 4-H Leader and served as Wilburn VP for over 15 years in my Local Community.

In all this volunteer service, along with raising my family I have a real breadth of profound knowledge of the school system and will be able to draw from that experience and deliver as a school board member representing district 6.

Over the last 5 years I have learned so much in raising someone else’s children (diagnosed with several mental illnesses). For example, ADHD, Bi-Polar, Mood Disorder and Anger Management.

I have worked closely with the school, teachers and outside agencies to get them the education and help they deserve. My goal is for them to become productive citizens. All these experiences have prepared me to seek for this position.

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Q & A with Anthony Triplin, District 6 Board of Education Candidate

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This is part of an ongoing series of interviews with the 2018 Prince George’s County Board of Education candidates. Anthony Triplin is a candidate from District 6 (see district map here) running in the June 26 primary election. Mr. Triplin answered questions generated by members of Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools.

Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools does not endorse or oppose any candidate for the Board of Education.

Tell us about your background and your plans to move our school system forward. Why do you want to be on the Board of Education?

I have served in the United States Navy and in the Army National Guard. I have more than 10 years in accounting, auditing and budgeting experience. I see my mission on the Board of Education as helping explain where the actual money is going in the simplest terms and how we can better allocate it to serve our schools. Our school system is the bedrock of our community. I am passionate about bringing people together to plug into solutions that will strengthen our school system and improve opportunity for all children, because our community’s well being – our region’s prosperity – depends upon this. As an advocate for public education, I have worked collaboratively with people of many different backgrounds and worldviews. I have brought people around the table to find common ground and take action together on solutions. I believe that I can make a greater difference by bringing this approach to the school board.

I am committed to listening first, to leading thoughtfully and respectfully, and to building strong partnerships to find the best solutions for our children and the district. I am running for office because our school district is facing a number of challenges that require commitment and great leadership in the boardroom. I am committed to improving the quality of our public school system and realize that serving as a policy maker is one of the most direct ways to make a difference.

I feel that there is a need for quality and dedicated new leadership. I want to be on the school board because I care about children and their parents, I care about educators in this district and I care about the future of the county to attract and retain the best and brightest. I want to help mend the fences that have been broken in our community, to restore trust and integrity where it’s needed. I want to make sure that we continue the good things that happened under the previous administration.

What would be your top three priorities while serving on the board, if elected?

Provide a safe and effective learning environment for our students at every school. This includes making sure we have highly qualified teachers in every classroom and quality administration in every school. We need to identify and reward strong teachers and we need to expand our professional development offerings so all teachers can improve their performance in the classroom.

Utilize our resources more efficiently.​ Our “Weighted Student Staffing” and “Strategic Staffing” programs allow us to direct extra funding to the students who need additional resources to be successful. Give our students what they need to succeed by giving our teachers and principals what they need to succeed. We need to provide our teachers and principals with the right training, support, professional development, and resources to give our students what they each need to be successful.

Create a focused and strategic budget, that puts our money toward what works for students. We need to build strong community partnerships to ensure our entire community is pushing in one direction, for our students. Our students do their best when they have the entire community standing behind them. It’s easy to make promises, but living these promises IS what works, and I ask for your vote to continue to live these promises for the next four years and beyond.

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Q & A with Pat Fletcher, District 6 Board of Education Candidate

IMG_7196This is part of an ongoing series of interviews with the 2018 Prince George’s County Board of Education candidates. Pat Fletcher is a candidate from District 6 (see district map here) running in the June 26 primary election. Ms. Fletcher answered questions generated by members of Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools.

Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools does not endorse or oppose any candidate for the Board of Education.

Tell us about your background and your plans to move our school system forward. Why do you want to be on the Board of Education?

I am running to block administration and politicians from using our children and educators as political footballs. I am running to be the voice of the parents of our children who feel that their voices are not being heard. I am running for those parents, educators and children who receive little or no direction to be prepared to avoid incidents only to get them after the fact. I am running for that teacher who went in her pocket and spent her last $25 to ensure that a student had a pen, notebook and paper. I am running for that CEO who gave her all to the Head Start program and was terminated due to others in action (now going around the country inspecting Head Start programs for US Dept. of Education). I am running for that bus driver who rescued our babies from a burning bus and gets a dismal salary. I am running for that custodian who takes the extra time to actually talk and listen to our children. We have awesome children and staff. I am running to ensure they all have the resources they need so that our children will be competitive and succeed.

I started in the community and political arena when I was seven and perhaps earlier. Going to tenant association meetings, PTA, and commissioners’ meetings with my mom. She was active with the Toastmasters and a member of the Community Mental Health citizen’s advisory board. All of this took place in DC. I started in the political arena in Prince Georges’ County under Tommy Broadwater when he asked a group of us to volunteer for Steny Hoyer when he ran in the special election for Gladys Noon Spellman’s vacated seat. Assisted the statewide treasurer for Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign (Carolyn Howard, Joanne Benson, Paul Pinsky, all teachers back then were Jackson Delegates and/or worked on the campaign). Treasurer for PGCDCC, School Board Member from 2006-2010; former president and vice president of Kentland/Columbia Park Boys and Girls Club; former PTA President of Forestville HS and G. James Gholson MS and presently president of Board of Directors for Village Green Mutual Homes, Inc. a cooperative in Landover for low to moderate income families. I have lived in Prince George’s County for over 40 years. Mother of two daughters and grandmother of 4. Both my daughters are graduates of county school system. Youngest daughter was an English teacher for 14 years in our school system. I have one grandchild presently attending a county school.

I bring with me a wealth of history of Prince George’s County school system. From directly experiencing the desegregation of the schools and the creation of magnet schools (which was segregation in disguise), the racism in selection of minority children in the TAG program, the building of a fence around Bowie annex when students from Bladensburg had to go there while Bladensburg HS was being rebuilt and were not allowed to walk in the Bowie neighborhood, minority students not being able to take AP courses, and the schools in my district getting little or no funding. I am a firm believer in that you need to know and understand where you have been before you can move forward.

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Q & A with Carolyn Boston, District 6 Board of Education Candidate

IMG_1989This is part of an ongoing series of interviews with the 2018 Prince George’s County Board of Education candidates. Carolyn Boston is the incumbent from District 6 (see district map here) running in the June 26 primary election. Ms. Boston answered questions generated by members of Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools.

Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools does not endorse or oppose any candidate for the Board of Education.

Tell us about your background and your plans to move our school system forward. Why do you want to be on the Board of Education?

I am running for a third term on the Board of Education because I believe we are moving in the right direction to be a model for the world on how to educate a diverse student body such as Prince George’s County. My experience as a council member in my community has equipped me with the knowledge and experience of dealing with budgets and how to run a town. My 10+ years of development and training through PTA on the local and state level, has provided me with years of advocacy and leadership skills. My years as a Parent Liaison for Prince George’s County School System prepared me to assist parents and the community on how to navigate our system. The professional training and workforce development I received has been a big asset with the work I do on this board. Also, my years of employment with one of the largest labor unions in the world has equipped me with a deep understanding of negotiations and collective bargaining process.

What would be your top three priorities while serving on the board, if elected?

My top three priorities while serving on the school board if re-elected are found below:

  1. Bring awareness and increase enrollment in our Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs that are available to our students that can equipped them with certifications and/or skills that they can use right after high school.
  2. Continue my support of community engagement by providing community workshops and encourage key partnerships that can provide resources to our students and families. Continue my work with the College and Career Readiness Summit, where I coordinate with our school system to bring colleges, universities, careers, and local agencies together to provide valuable resources to our students and families to assist with making next level education or career decisions.
  3. Engage our system to have our businesses who receive contracts from our system, to provide apprenticeship opportunities for our students. This will equip our students with hands-on experiences that would make them more marketable right out of high school.

What qualities do you believe are most important in a Chief Executive Officer?

A Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is the leader that provides the strategic direction for teaching and learning, fiscal accountability, and overall system accountability. The CEO must be transparent and must be a transformative leader for Prince George’s County Public Schools. A CEO must always maintain an open line of communication and listen to the needs of staff, parents, and students. A CEO must also have the qualifications to lead a large and complex system such as Prince George’s County Schools. An ideal CEO can lead with logic, intellect, and with their heart. Our students are our most precious gift and it is important that the CEO work with the School Board to deliver a high-quality system for families and students.

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