This is part of an ongoing series of interviews with PGCPS Board of Education candidates. Cheryl Landis is a candidate from District 5 (see district map here). Ms. Landis 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 why you feel that you would be an effective member of the Board of Education.
For the past 37 years, I’ve been an active volunteer, community organizer, and servant leader in Prince George’s County. I made a deliberate and decisive decision well over 10 years ago that upon my retirement from Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS), I would transition to serve as an elected member of the Board of Education. On November 1, 2016, I will officially retire from PGCPS with 27 years of service. For 17 years (1989 to 2006) I served as the Executive Administrative Officer to the very same Board of Education I seek election to. During that time, I worked directly with numerous boards of education, both elected and appointed. For the past 10 years (2006 to present) I have served as the school system’s Strategic Business Partnerships Specialist, as well as Administrator for the Excellence in Education Foundation for PGCPS, Inc. I’ve also had the honor of serving as Chair of the Education Workforce Development Committee of the Prince George’s Chamber of Commerce. I was recently selected by Junior Achievement of Greater Washington to serve on the Junior Achievement Finance Park Prince George’s County Advisory Council.
Each and every step that I have taken over the past 37 years has successfully prepared me to serve as an elected member of the Board. I realize the awesome responsibility and commitment of time that will ultimately come with the position. I understand that the mission of the Board of Education is to advance the academic achievement of all students through community engagement, sound policy governance, accountability, and fiscal responsibility. Because of my many years of experience, I have a very clear and concise understanding of the role of a Board Member. I have already defined my scope and purpose for working collaboratively with the Administration and my colleagues as an elected member of the Board. I will hit the ground running!
What are two or three special challenges that you see in your school board district, and how would you work with the community to address them?
Challenge No. 1 — Family & Community Engagement: Family and community engagement are important components to the academic success of a student. That is why educating our youth must be viewed as a shared responsibility between the school system, parents, and students. As an elected member of the Board of Education, I will take a “grassroots approach” to effectively increase family and community engagement by implementing the following strategies in District 5 schools:
- Beginning January 2017, I will meet individually and on an ongoing basis with District 5 principals and PTA/PTO to assess the needs of the District.
- I will work with District 5 schools to establish a fully engaged, highly functioning PTA/PTO where none exist
- I will attend monthly scheduled PTA/PTO meetings on a rotating basis. The goal is to encourage, motivate and inspire parents in their efforts to support their children academically.
- I will work collaboratively with the respective school principal and the established PTA/PTO to develop partnerships with the business community, nonprofits, community organizations, etc., that will supplement and support the academic achievement of District 5 students. All partnerships will be established in accordance with Board Policy and PGCPS Administrative Procedures
- I will work with the Administration to develop programs and services that will enhance and expand academic opportunities to ensure that our students will graduate from PGCPS College AND Career Ready.
- I will seek to develop partnerships that will provide academic enrichment opportunities for students such as: After School Programs, Conflict Resolution and Mediation, Health Care, Wellness and Fitness, Dental Support, Literacy Support, Gang Prevention and Intervention, Internships, Youth Employment, Student Service Learning Opportunities, Tobacco Free, Alcohol Free, Drug Free, Mentoring and Tutoring, Parent Engagement, Tennis Education, Youth Development Engagement, etc.
- I will create parent, family and community engagement opportunities through meetings, workshops, listening sessions, etc.
- I will provide professional development training to District 5 PTA/PTO on the process of fundraising for donations both in-kind and monetary in accordance with Board Policy.
- I will work to bring needed resources to District 5 schools.
- I will produce a quarterly District 5 Newsletter which will include appropriate information from each District 5 school to keep parents informed and engaged.
- I will host an annual event to bring District 5 schools together which will include workshops for parents and students, sharing of information sharing, opportunities for networking, invited guest speakers, games and activities, etc.