Retired teacher seeks school board seat

July 15, 2010|By JULIE E. GREENE

Teachers and support personnel should get more respect, and teacher pay shouldn't be tied to student test scores, said Karen J. Harshman, who is running for one of three seats on the Washington County Board of Education.

The 11 school board candidates for the Sept. 14 primary will be narrowed to six for November's general election.

Harshman has not run for public office before. She served on the board of directors for the Washington County Teachers Association in the mid-2000s, including serving on the negotiating committee for a year.

For students to be successful, the school system needs people who are appreciated in their jobs, said Harshman, who retired in June after teaching English for 30 years in Washington County Public Schools. She taught at North Hagerstown High, Washington County Technical High, Clear Spring Middle and Hancock Middle-Senior High. She also taught preschool in Hagerstown and for a year in Florida.


Based on her experience, Harshman said, administrators at the schools and central office -- not the school board -- failed to show appreciation and respect for the people who teach and work with the students.

"Many teachers are feeling as though their efforts are not being respected or acknowledged in any way. I think they need that in order to do a much better job for the kids," Harshman said.

Many business people realize that employees who aren't happy don't perform as well as those who are happy, said Harshman, who lives east of Hagerstown with her husband, Mike.

Harshman said employees should be more involved in decision-making because if they have input, they can better accept changes and mandates.

She said each child has a level to which he or she can excel, but not every child has the same capabilities. Therefore, Harshman said, she has concerns about tying teacher pay to student test scores. President Obama's Race to the Top education initiative calls for tying teacher and principal evaluations to student growth.

School board members elected in November will serve four-year terms and earn $6,100 a year. If one of the newly elected members becomes board president, the annual salary will be $6,200.

Name: Karen J. Harshman

Age: 64

Address: 11102 Dolores Court, east of Hagerstown

Education: South Hagerstown High School, Class of 1964; associate of arts from Hagerstown Junior College, 1973; bachelor of arts in language arts comprehensive, grades 5 to 12, from Shepherd College, 1975; credits in education from Western Maryland College, 1981.

Occupation: Retired in June from teaching English at North Hagerstown High School. Sells antiques and collectibles.

Party affiliation: Democrat, but the race is nonpartisan

Political experience: None

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