What I Care About
ATTRACTING & RETAINING TEACHERS
There is a critical shortage of teachers in many subjects across the state. We must continue to develop incentives to attract new teachers to the area, which involves partnerships with city and county governments. We are lucky to have Salisbury University and University of Maryland Eastern Shore, which produce many new teachers each year. However, we need to continue working to attempt to keep many of them in the county.
Additionally, we must continue to ensure our teachers and non-classroom professionals are compensated adequately, to retain their experience in the schools. We must work with the Wicomico County Education Association on developing contracts that provide benefits necessary for retention.
MENTAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
The health and safety of both students and employees is top of mind. Following the COVID-19 disruption of education, and the significant mental health crisis that resulted, all students need to have access to trained mental health professionals, counselors, therapists, or psychiatrists depending on the student’s needs, during the school day.
We must take every step possible to ensure students are safe from the moment they step on the bus to the moment they return home.
We should review lessons learned from COVID-19, including the need for outdoor classrooms, fresh air intake to classrooms, bottle filling stations vs water fountains, etc. and make plans to implement improvements that would benefit everyone during the next pandemic and even regular flu season.
GRADUATION & CAREER READINESS
The graduation rate in Wicomico County is around 84% for 2020 with state average being slightly higher at 87%. We must continue to strive to improve the graduation rate to above state average.
Those who graduate must be college or career ready. The Parkside Career & Technology Education program is a key piece of the career ready model, for courses that require hand-on education.
According to the Maryland Kindergarten Readiness Assessment, 43% of the county’s children entered Kindergarten classrooms demonstrating the knowledge, skills, and behaviors needed to fully participate in the Kindergarten curriculum. This is below the statewide average of 47%. Our kindergartners should have the foundational skills needed for success. High quality universal pre-K for three and four-year-olds could help ensure that children are prepared for kindergarten.
According to the National Institute for Early Education Research’s (NIEER) most recent data, last year only 34% of four-year-olds and 6% of three-year-olds were served in some type of publicly funded pre-K program. The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future will help us implement Pre-K.
The Board of Education and the Superintendent of Schools must operate in a transparent method, whenever possible, to ensure parents, guardians, students, teachers, and employees receive the information they need to make decisions. All parties should have ample opportunities for input and participation at Board of Education Meetings. All meeting agendas, minutes, and meeting materials should be published before the meeting in an accessible manner to all.
We must create an environment of respect and belonging for all students, staff, and families in the school system.
The Blueprint for Maryland's Future contains many of my priorities such as increased educator salaries, expanded pre-kindergarten, additional mental health support, and college and career readiness pathways (including career and technology education). Our board will need to properly implement Blueprint or risk reduced state funding in subsequent years.