Find your district and select a candidate below to read their responses to our questionnaire. The Maryland general election will be held Nov. 8, 2022. * Candidates displayed in italics did not respond to our survey.

District 2(Vote for 1)

Campaign email: jonathan@votejonathanbriggs.com

Age: 34

Employment: Policy manager, America Forward.

Education: Master of Science in Education, Johns Hopkins School of Education

Why are you running for the school board? 

I am running for the school board because I believe every child deserves access to a fair, equal, and transformative educational experience. I learned while in the classroom that if we want to see real change in our education system, it will take dedicated leaders with the knowledge and “know-how” working as strong champions for change. I believe our education system is broken in many ways, and I would like to bring my unique experience – both as a classroom teacher in some of our nation’s toughest schools and as a policy professional –  to represent members of my community, including parents, teachers, students, and schools.

What makes you a good candidate for the board? 

As a former teacher and near-peer mentor, I have committed my life’s work to become a strong champion and advocate for education equity, including being integral in spearheading Illinois’ first-ever Children’s Advisory Council, crafting equitable legislation that addresses the opportunity gap that persists in public education (while working for a member of Congress), and developing sound recommendations for the DC Mayor Education to improve its Safe Passage Program. I believe these experiences will support me in representing students, parents, and teachers and in being a sounding board for change.

Please name a public leader you admire and explain why.

I most admire the great (former South African president) Nelson Mandela. I believe his strength of character, and his ability to persist despite insurmountable odds, are truly inspiring. It was clear that, in many ways, the odds were stacked against Mr. Mandela; he was even a political pariah at one point –  with an over-27-year prison sentence that would cause the toughest of us to quiver in fear. Despite all that, he took every setback and made it a comeback, which is the type of leader I aspire to be. Most importantly, he didn’t do this alone but with a community that supported and fought alongside him.

What is your school board’s most important issue, and what would you do if elected? 

I think the biggest issue facing the school board is addressing the learning gap that persists in Prince George’s County Public Schools. The pandemic has exacerbated an already strained learning environment, and students’ academics have been most impacted. If I were elected to the school board, my first day in office would be taking stock of our budget. There is a surplus of funding that is coming down from the Biden-Harris administration to address learning loss at the state and local level. I would want to ensure that we were addressing students’ learning needs by identifying where the steepest gaps exist and then allocating funding to address those needs in partnership with the CEO.

How concerned are you about school safety, and what if anything should be done to improve it? 

I am very concerned about school safety. The steady uptick of gun violence in schools is alarming, and it is having a significant impact on student mental health. I believe a proactive step to begin to address school safety in the long run is investing in more mental health resources for students, that includes school psychologists, social workers and partnerships with local organizations that provide mental health resources. Additionally, addressing the teacher shortage can ensure that there are reasonable class sizes, which will help teachers develop more engaging relationships with students.

Do you have any concerns about the way history is taught in your district’s schools, and if so, what are they? 

I think history should be inclusive of many different perspectives, which includes the perspectives of marginalized groups. This will support students’ ability to think critically about the implications that historical events have had on different communities and how it impacted them. This also provides students with a richer and fuller understanding of our shared history. I believe students should be exposed to diverse perspectives, authors, and content, and it is schools’ and educators’ responsibility to provide students with a well-rounded education. Ultimately students should be challenged to think critically in the classroom, which will prepare them for the rigor of our future.

Do you think there are circumstances when books should be removed from school libraries, and if so, what kind of books should be removed? 

I think books that provide students with a better understanding of the world around them, in an academic sense, should be largely available for students to consume. If I were to disagree with any book being in a school library, it would be a book that does not serve to provide students with an academic and well-rounded understanding of the world around them. I am a firm believer that any book that challenges a student’s perspective is a good opportunity for them to ask questions and investigate the subject matter further to become more knowledgeable about it.

Campaign email: jenni@jennipompi.com

Website: www.jennipompi.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jennipompiPGCPS.D2

Age: 44

Employment: I am a senior editor for the periodicals division of a nonprofit  in Annapolis.

Education: Bachelor’s degrees in journalism and women’s studies, both from the University of Maryland College Park.

Why are you running for the school board?  

I’m the proud mom of two PGCPS students and I’m running for the Board of Education because District 2 deserves a school board member who will put our kids over politics and prioritize educational policies that will have a real impact on our schools and our communities.

What makes you a good candidate for the board? 

As a PGCPS parent and a 25-year-long resident of Prince George’s County, I understand the unique challenges our children, schools and teachers face, and will listen to constituent concerns and use that feedback to inform policies to make our school system stronger. My deep knowledge of our school system as a parent and former PTO president and the strong relationships I’ve built throughout District 2 make me a strong candidate and uniquely suited to represent this community. I have broad community support and a reputation for working hard and achieving results as a parent advocate and community member.

Please name a public leader you admire and explain why. 

I admire the tenacity, strength and spirit of Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. I love how she saw a system that wasn’t working and decided to work to fix it, resulting in the enfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of voters. Ms. Abrams dedication to civic engagement is clear in the ways she engages voters in her own campaign, and it is wonderful to see how she inspires people to want to change the status quo, and to believe they can.

What is the most important issue facing your school board, and what would you do about it if elected?  

The most important issue facing our school board is student recovery from the pandemic learning gap. I will support Blueprint (for Maryland’s future) community schools engaging students and families through wraparound services such as additional counselors and enhanced learning opportunities through field trips during school and after school hours and through partnerships with organizations; and focusing on improving student attendance and parent engagement. I also will work to ensure each school has a fully funded mental health services coordinator position, and support teacher and staff professional development around recognizing symptoms of mental health problems.

How concerned are you about school safety, and what if anything should be done to improve it? 

As a parent to two PGCPS students, I’m very concerned about school safety, both for our kids and our teachers and staff. I support enhancing external safety features already in place and being constructed in new PGCPS buildings, such as security vestibules and secure entrances. Just as important is building a strong sense of community through restorative practices and wraparound services that enhance the safety and security of our students.

Do you have any concerns about the way history is taught in your district’s schools, and if so, what are they? 

I don’t have any issues with our history as taught in our schools. The truth about U.S. history is very clear throughout PGCPS curriculum, particularly as it relates to slavery and the disenfranchisement and marginalization of Black, brown and indigenous people, though I would always support expanding our history content to be more thorough and inclusive. We do well, but we can always do better.

Do you think there are circumstances when books should be removed from school libraries, and if so, what kind of books should be removed? 

I don’t think there are any circumstances in which books of any kind should be removed from school libraries, though I do think it may be appropriate to review books to ensure they do not contain harmful racist/cultural stereotypes. Restricting access to or censoring books inhibits the ability of kids to learn to think for themselves, and free-thinking is important to our democracy.

District 3 (Vote for 1)

Varinia V. Sandino

The following candidate did not respond

Campaign email: pamela@pamelaboozer-strother.com

Website: https://www.pamelaboozer-strother.com/

Facebook: facebook.com/pam4pgcps

Age: 53

Employment: I am an association sector consultant for sponsorship programs and also serve as the current District 3 Board of Education member.

Education: MBA, Kogod School of Business, American University 

Why are you running for the school board?  

I am running for reelection as the mother of a PGCPS seventh grader and member of the Board of Education since 2018. I led through the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic and now have the opportunity to help students, staff and families recover. I am deeply knowledgeable of the PGCPS $2.6 billion annual budget. I have contributed to positive change in system resources, including expansion of new schools, with one delivered in my first term, and nine more on the way in the next two years throughout the county. I have served in a leadership role on the Community Schools strategy, expanding academic enrichment and mental health services to 95 Blueprint for Maryland’s Future funded schools.

What makes you a good candidate for the board?  

I am a 17-year active resident of Prince George’s County. Before I ran for the board, I had a track record of success serving as the president of the Gateway CDC board and as a parent leader of the Mount Rainier Elementary PTO. I am known as a bridge builder among many PGCPS schools in District 3. I am running for reelection to continue to contribute to building an equitable and inclusive system by drawing on my life and work experiences.

Please name a public leader you admire and explain why.  

I am grateful to the many Prince George’s County, Maryland, and national leaders who paved the way for women running for elected office. Witnessing the leadership of Maryland Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk (D-Anne Arundel and Prince George’s), and the bills she sponsored for LGBTQ+, immigrant and health equity, made me understood the power of grassroots elected leaders – the PGCPS mothers right here in our communities fighting for and making positive change.

What is the most important issue facing your school board, and what would you do about it if elected? 

Implementing the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future legislation, which is based on the Kirwan Commission findings to improve academic achievement, is the most important issue facing the Board of Education. I support the COVID-19 pandemic academic recovery plans developed by CEO Dr. Monica Goldson that expand upon the programs in the Blueprint. PGCPS has been a leader in pandemic response, building tutoring and summer programs to provide year-round supports for learning loss gaps, as well as implementing the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future community schools model with wraparound services that include mental health practitioners in school buildings.

How concerned are you about school safety, and what if anything should be done to improve it?  

Students, staff and families define safety in many ways. I will continue to advocate for funding for new clean energy school buildings that are built with the features of secure front entrances and modern doors and locks; improve safe walking paths to schools and advocate for a fully staffed crossing guard program; promote mitigating COVID-19 spread through a high vaccine rate; and support budgets with increased services for bullying prevention and restorative approaches to conflict resolution.

Do you have any concerns about the way history is taught in your district’s schools, and if so, what are they? 

PGCPS is a culturally responsive school district in curriculum development and a system where educators teach the truth about U.S. history. There is room for expansion of more inclusive experiences for Hispanic students who are now more than 36% of the student body, such as the inclusion of the history and culture of Latin America.

Do you think there are circumstances when books should be removed from school libraries, and if so, what kind of books should be removed?  

I do not agree with book banning. However, school library catalogs should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure they include content that represents the diversity of the students of PGCPS and the commitment to culturally responsive teaching. 

District 6(Vote for 1)

Campaign email: engage@votebjackson.com

Website: www.votebjackson.com

Age: 38

Employment: External affairs officer in the energy industry

Education: Master’s degree from Georgetown University, MBA from John Hopkins University.

Why are you running for the school board?  

I am running for the school board because I care, I’m a concerned father, I have a kid coming to the Prince George’s County school system, and I have had a kid go through the Prince George’s County school system and I just want to use my skills to help elevate our school system.

What makes you a good candidate for the board?  

I have the passion and the compassion to serve and I know firsthand I know the school system through being a father and also working with the school system so I know a lot of the ins and outs of the school system. Also I have skills in the public and private sector which will be needed to help run or govern the public school system.

Please name a public leader you admire and explain why.   

I’ll say Nelson Mandela for what he’s done as an activist and how he worked to abolish apartheid and liberate the people of South Africa and the resiliency and the commitment to making sure his people saw brighter days

What is the most important issue facing your school board and what would you do about it if elected? (150-word limit)

Safety.

How concerned are you about school safety, and what if anything should be done to improve it?  

I would love to lead a conversation with the community, children, teachers, government officials, etc. about school safety.

Do you have any concerns about the way history is taught in your district’s schools, and if so, what are they?  

I think that we should focus on giving our students access to all the information available and not try to create a narrative that shies away from the actual abuse or occurrences that have happened in history.

Do you think there are circumstances when books should be removed from school libraries, and if so, what kind of books should be removed? 

 I won’t call out any specific books but I think that libraries are resources and I believe that we should equip our kids with the tools to understand what propaganda is. I think we should equip our kids with critical thinking skills so they can understand that there may be information out there that can mislead them. I think I’m more inclined to equip our kids with the research and critical thinking skills so they can go through the process of what’s real and what’s not. I don’t necessarily have any books that should be removed offhand but I believe that our biggest due is to teach our kids critical thinking skills and equip them with the ability to do research on their own.

Campaign email: ashleykearneyforschoolboard@gmail.com

Website: www.ashleykearneyforschoolboard.com

Age: 32

Employment: Education Manager, local education agency

Education: Master’s in Education, Johns Hopkins University

Why are you running for the school board?  

As a lifelong educator, I saw firsthand how safe, joyous, collaborative, rigorous and predictable learning environments provided the foundation for student and adult success. I am running for school board to ensure (1) all students receive an equitable and quality educational experience; (2) educators feel supported, respected and prepared to deliver with and for families; (3) families feel proud and at ease sending their students to school, and (4) our education system prioritizes continuous improvement in teaching, learning, and leadership with excellence as the standard.

What makes you a good candidate for the board?  

I believe that classroom context is a value-add to any board providing oversight of a system where successful cycles of teaching and learning is a core component of organizational success. My experience includes recent classroom and leadership experience, which is extremely important given the changes and challenges in the education landscape since the start of the pandemic. With multi-level experience leading as an instructional coach, managing a congressional education portfolio, serving on executive boards of local education councils and coalitions and currently managing collaborative work projects in learning and developmental sciences, I am well positioned for the board.

Please name a public leader you admire and explain why.  

I admire Congresswoman Alma Adams’ lifelong commitment to education and how she has used those relevant experiences to help shape meaningful policy. (Adams is a North Carolina Democrat). She consistently promotes a quality education for all students.  When I was managing a congressional education portfolio, I did not work for her office but was privileged enough to see her in action through committee and caucus work. Each time was inspiring. She proved to be a bold, consistent and unwavering leader and warrior for education, and the intersectionality of issues impacting education.

What is the most important issue facing your school board, and what would you do about it if elected? 

The most important issue facing the school board is school safety. I say this broadly because safety is the catalyst for a positive school climate that directly impacts academic performance and can include all issues ranging from nutrition to the school-to-prison pipeline. More narrowly focused, I would establish a school safety workgroup to work as a collaborative partner to the existing school safety task force to ensure consideration of ongoing problems of practice, strengthen multi-tiered systems of integrated supports to be used to inform comprehensive student-centered safety plans in partnership with targeted community school efforts, and root MCS  (Managing Crisis Safely) training in learning & development sciences. 

How concerned are you about school safety, and what if anything should be done to improve it?  

School safety is one of my top issues on my platform. In addition to the aforementioned, I would ensure intentional emphasis and supports to ensure schools are on the pathway to reach Optimally Safe School Status, Common Sense Schools status, and increased district membership in the M.A.S.R.O (Maryland Association of School Resource Officers) to ensure co-creation of best practices with relevant context as a necessary stopgap to long-term approaches.  

Do you have any concerns about the way history is taught in your district’s schools, and if so, what are they? 

Based on the descriptions of the Maryland State Standards and Framework, each standard emphasizes inquiry, and I believe that to be a positive approach to allowing students to become critical consumers and empowered learners.

Do you think there are circumstances when books should be removed from school libraries, and if so, what kind of books should be removed?  

Libraries should include a range of books that allow students to explore, learn and make meaning of the world around them and/or reimagine a world.

District 9 (Vote for 1)

Campaign email: kentroberson@gmail.com

Website: www.kentroberson.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/HonorableKentRoberson.org

Age: 37

Employment: Senior manager, Corn Refiners Association

Education: Master’s degree, Ball State University

Why are you running for the school board?  

I’m running, one, because I see the need for civility and diplomacy on our school board where we bring respectability to our school system to ensure all voices are heard and considered.

What makes you a good candidate for the board?  

Because I have experience working with a coalition that agrees or disagrees with one another and bringing them together to fight for the common good. Working as a chair for the Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee, I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to work with all members of the Prince George’s delegation to ensure those within the county are well represented. And the fact that I have these standing relationships is also a benefit to the school board, especially as we advocate for increased funding and increased funding opportunities and resources for our school system.

Please name a public leader you admire and explain why.  

I admire (U.S.) Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.)  just because of his ability to to represent those within his district but even stand for those outside of his district to be an advocate for all people.

What is the most important issue facing your school board, and what would you do about it if elected? 

I think the most pressing matter is once again ensuring that individuals can work together, and what I plan to do about it is demonstrate how individuals can disagree without being disagreeable.

How concerned are you about school safety, and what if anything should be done to improve it?  

I am concerned about school safety. And I think continuing conversations and partnerships are needed across multiple stakeholders to include parents, students, law enforcement, legislators, educators and administrators.

Do you have any concerns about the way history is taught in your district’s schools, and if so, what are they? 

Not in my schools, no.

Do you think there are circumstances when books should be removed from school libraries, and if so, what kind of books should be removed? 

I believe there are, and it’s when books have explicit details that are not relevant to the education of our students.

Campaign email: voteforlolitawalker@gmail.com

Website: https://www.lolita4pgcpsd9.com/

Age: 44

Employment: Owner, Walker & Walker Enterprises LLC.

Education: MBA, Simmons College, Boston.  I am currently a Ph.D. student at Morgan State University.

Why are you running for the school board?  

When we choose to connect across, build up, and thrive together, we commit to acting as a powerful collective of thought leaders with a common goal – to create sustainable and fiscally viable standards and policies that govern the schools and their leaders, resulting in the continued high performance within District 9 schools.

What makes you a good candidate for the board?  

I am focused on this single role to bring a focused shift of providing our scholars with the best education possible. I’ve served in school leadership positions for five years, via both elected and appointed PTSA roles. I know the issues that parents, students, teachers, staff and our communities face, and am excited to bring viable solutions. I am a mother, a corporate leader turned full-time entrepreneur, speaker, certified life, leadership, and executive coach, author, podcaster, involved community leader, and candidate for PGCPS Board of Education. I will use the collection of my individual skill sets to create linkages that connect across, build up, and help us thrive together.

Please name a public leader you admire and explain why.  

I admire the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He had a dream and pushed it, despite the odds and political pressures. He stood alone at times and with a committed group of others. He faced adversity with his head held high and spoke unapologetically, with purpose, and with a motivating spirit of action. He taught us that disrupting the status quo is necessary and will evoke change, whether now or in the future.

What is the most important issue facing your school board, and what would you do about it if elected?  

When elected, I would like to focus on a few core priorities. However, the most pressing, in my estimation, is safety. When I think of safety, I consider physical, mental, emotional and relational. Each of these has risks associated (with it) and, if not addressed, will continue to spiral our scholars and impede their learning. Creating bridges to connect, build, and thrive will enhance the success of our scholars in school and in life.

How concerned are you about school safety, and what if anything should be done to improve it?  

School safety in Prince George’s County is of concern as we continue to see incidents of vandalism, bullying, shootings and increased mental health challenges, to name a few. As mentioned, safety comes in many forms. For physical safety, I am a proponent of trained school resource officers. For mental and emotional safety, I am a proponent of continued relationships with school counselors, in-school resource rooms, and parental connections. For relational safety, partnering with PGCPS on education for bullying, suicide prevention, collaboration, both written and verbal communication, and other key aspects, will enable our scholars to be well-rounded and prepared to navigate the world safely.

Do you have any concerns about the way history is taught in your district’s schools, and if so, what are they?  

History, in my estimation, should be taught, in its entirety, to ensure that it includes a history that also represents the community in which it serves. Our scholars deserve to learn about the history relevant to themselves, as well as those that helped shape the diversity of our world.

Do you think there are circumstances when books should be removed from school libraries, and if so, what kind of books should be removed? 

I do not believe books should be banned or removed from school libraries. Books open opportunities for our scholars to explore different perspectives, ask questions, and expand their mindsets beyond what is learned in the classroom and potentially within their homes. Books offer the space to create and innovate differently and open up discussions and room for understanding, articulating, and even debating a varied view of topics. When our scholars are able to read and submerge themselves in books, they may begin to identify with characters and realize that they are not alone in how they feel. This relational connection may offer new ways to connect beyond the book.

This article was originally published on CNSMaryland.org and is republished with permission.


David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...

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