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Board of Education candidates answer questions

October 06, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Given the recent economic climate, eight political hopefuls had the rare opportunity to entertain the notion of having unlimited funds to spend on education in Washington County.

The eight candidates competing for four open seats on the seven-member Washington County Board of Education say what they would do with that money in this Sunday's newspaper. Over the next month, candidates will respond to questions in their own words in the Sunday Herald-Mail.

Some of the questions will be posed by staff members, and some will come directly from voters. Candidates were asked to respond to the questions in writing, using 100 words or less.

This week, the candidates will tell readers about their favorite teacher, and reveal their plan to spend an unlimited amount of money on Washington County students.

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Today is the first of four consecutive Sundays before the Nov. 4 general election that the candidates will be asked about issues and themselves.

-- Erin Cunningham

Donna Brightman, 56



Southern Washington County

Who was your favorite teacher? Why?

My K-12 education experience was spread over several states, beginning in New York and moving to Alabama, Texas, Mississippi and Florida, before graduating high school in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Without fail, at least one teacher at each new school would help by advocating for me. I don't remember their names after all these years, but I do remember their kindness and understanding. Forty years later -- as my own children went through K-12 here in Washington County -- they each had the good fortune to be supported by individual teachers who went the extra mile, time and time again.

If the school system had unlimited funds, what would you provide that Washington County Public Schools currently does not have?

I would work toward a transportation system which would insure equity for all children. Such a system would allow for after school activities, academic enhancement, internships, as well as encourage participation in our magnets, academies, International Baccalaureate, Advance Placement and higher education course offerings. This initiative would require joint collaboration among the county, municipalities, federal government, public schools, higher education institutions and business community. Several areas of the county are not served by the County Commuter. This could be an opportunity to develop a mass transit system which would address many of the multifaceted, countywide transportation issues, not only schools.

Jacqueline B. Fischer, 62



Clear Spring

Who was your favorite teacher? Why?

My favorite teacher was my 12th grade English teacher, Mr. Joseph Robeson. Mr. Robeson was strict but fair; students always knew what he expected and what to expect from him. His sense of humor put the class at ease, but he never allowed a class to get out of hand. Perhaps his best attribute was his ability to challenge his students to want to do their best. He is the person who most strongly influenced me to become a teacher. In fact, I tried to emulate the qualities I admired in him with my own students.

If the school system had unlimited funds, what would you provide that Washington County Public Schools currently does not have?

With unlimited funds, I would replace every existing school and establish enough additional schools so that the student/teacher ratios would be 8:1 at the elementary level and 15:1 at the secondary level. Each school would be a state of the art instructional facility and each would meet the standards required by the U.S. Green Building Council for LEED Platinum certification. LEED certified schools are energy efficient, environmentally friendly, healthy buildings that are also low maintenance and serve as teaching tools. Besides energy cost savings, such schools have higher attendance rates for students and teachers, improved test scores, high teacher retention, etc.

W. Edward Forrest, 45



Hagerstown

Who was your favorite teacher? Why?

My favorite teacher was Mr. Samuel Houser who I had for chemistry, advanced chemistry and physics at Smithsburg High School. Mr. Houser set high expectations for all of his students and accepted nothing less than their best efforts. He helped me realize my potential as a science student and helped me develop the self-confidence I needed to be successful in college and in life.

If the school system had unlimited funds, what would you provide that Washington County Public Schools currently does not have?

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