Candidate urges creative approach

July 28, 1998|By DAVE McMILLION

Stephen E. Popper said he wants to see a Washington County Board of Education that is not afraid to go beyond conventional ways of thinking when determining what is best for students.

Popper, who is running for a seat on the board, said he believes it is healthy for the school board to brainstorm often when assessing needs of schools.

"You don't throw any idea out. You don't disparage people. There's no such thing as a dumb idea," said Popper, who moved to the area about a year ago after retiring with the rank of major from the U.S. Air Force.

Put another way, Popper likes to describe it as thinking "outside of the box."

Popper spent 28 years in the Air Force as a munitions maintenance officer, engineer and head of flight medicine at a hospital at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.


Popper's department took care of active pilots at the base and conducted physical examinations for military staff.

He came to Washington County to accept a job as medical director of Antietam Occupational Medicine, which helps companies conduct employee physical examinations, drug screenings and other work.

Using the results of a curriculum audit conducted recently on the school system, Popper said the school board must insure there are "clear, concise, written directives" of where officials want schools to go.

Popper said he likes the way the district has responded to the audit. Nearly 100 school officials, parents and business leaders have been pulled together to come up with recommendations to address problems identified in the audit, which included shortcomings in curriculum development and fragmented staff development.

"It's not going to be easy," Popper said of the process.

Popper also said he favors:

- a "quality assurance program" that continually monitors the success of the system.
- a well-organized, steady progression of instruction for students. It is important not to have duplication of instruction from class to class or uneven delivery of material from school to school, said Popper.
- teacher evaluations.

Popper, 47, of 19 Grove Creek Circle, Smithsburg, is one of 16 people running for five seats on the school board.

Two of the seats are newly created, and will increase the size of the board from five to seven members.

The 16 candidates will face off in a primary election Sept. 15, with the top 10 vote-getters vying for the five seats in the Nov. 3 general election.

The top three-vote getters in the general election will serve four-year terms and the next two highest vote-getters will serve two-year terms.

After this election, a school board member will make $4,800 a year and the president will make $4,900.

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