AACPS Taps Multitalented Parents For Citizen Advisory Committee

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A former science teacher, a university professor and an assistant superintendent of school operations will represent Severna Park and Broadneck the next two years on the executive panel of the 30-member Citizen Advisory Committee. The panel has two members from each high school cluster — one representing elementary schools and one representing secondary schools — and several at-large members who work together to advise the Board of Education on issues affecting the school system.

We asked the incoming CAC members from this area about their backgrounds and goals.

Michelle Comer
Severna Park Elementary Representative

Q: Why did you think you would be an ideal candidate for the CAC?

A: I feel I am an ideal candidate for the Citizens Advisory Committee executive committee because I have been involved with Anne Arundel County Public Schools my entire life.
I am a product of the Severna Park school system. I grew up in Arnold and attended Belvedere Elementary School, Magothy River Middle School, Severn River Junior High, and then Severna Park High School. I was part of a very small contingent of students required to awkwardly navigate this middle/junior high to high school path in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, before Broadneck High School had expanded to include ninth grade.

After graduate school, but before my husband and I started a family, I taught science for Anne Arundel County Public Schools at Southern High School. I had the pleasure of teaching both general and honors chemistry as well as co-teaching, with a special education teacher, several sections of Matter & Energy. This work exposed me to a wide range of students, all with different learning styles, abilities, strengths and weaknesses. It also gave me a real understanding of a teacher’s responsibilities, requirements and workload.

I am a parent of children who attend an Anne Arundel County public school. My twin sons were identified as developmentally delayed at age 3. They attended the early childhood intervention program at Georgetown East Elementary School in Annapolis for two years. Now they attend Severna Park Elementary School.

In addition to the above ties to AACPS, my most recent job makes me an ideal candidate for CAC. I just finished a four-year teaching position as an adjunct physics faculty member at the United States Naval Academy. While teaching at USNA, I interacted with midshipmen who had attended schools all over the country. I saw firsthand how AACPS graduates measured up against graduates from Alaska, Florida, and even Guam.

Q: What goals do you have as a CAC member? Or what educational issues are you eager to explore?

A: While I don’t have a specific agenda planned as I begin this appointment, I always have my children’s education in mind. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law that makes available a free appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation and ensures special education and related services to those children (sites.ed.gov/idea/about-idea). Because of IDEA, my sons are in a mainstream classroom and are given the appropriate accommodations to allow them to be as successful as possible. This process of identifying students with special needs and getting them the help they need is not straightforward. I worry about the children whose parents have to navigate this process without a background in education.

Donna Day
Severna Park Secondary Representative

Q: Why did you think you would be an ideal candidate for the CAC?

A: As an Anne Arundel County resident for many years, and a parent of an elementary school child, I would be an ideal candidate to help pave the way for her and other students through advisory, discussion and communication across our county leaders, executives and scholars. My experience as a federal government employee, manager and leader for over 35 years, and a university professor for the last four years, has armed me with the knowledge, skills and abilities to communicate, mentor, coach and strategize effectively.

Exchanging information, opening lines of communication and promoting cooperation are my key strengths; in addition, my unique educational background in information assurance, marketing, management, business, customer engagement and cybersecurity provide a foundation and framework that can easily support and tackle a variety of challenges in many areas concerning our citizens, our children, their future, and educational goals and objectives. I am hardworking, well-organized, dedicated, dependable, committed, and ready to devote my time and energy to making sure our county schools and educational programs are the best they can be.

I feel that I am an asset to the CAC and as a strategic and critical thinker. I'm looking forward to this wonderful opportunity to address the most important and challenging educational issues of today and tomorrow.

Q: What goals do you have as a CAC member? Or what educational issues are you eager to explore?

A: The primary reason for volunteering for the Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) Executive Panel is that I have a passion for all issues impacting educational policy, activities and programs in this county. Being able to respond on behalf of the citizens as well as service the board with requests surrounding critical and specific educational issues impacting our children is a wonderful opportunity and my main goal as a new CAC member. Given the diversity of our parents and students across the county, representation on a myriad of issues of interest to them is key; each concern or query must be given careful consideration and analysis as part of a holistic and fair decision for all.

Q: Do you have kids in the Severna Park cluster? If so, how many?
A: Yes, one daughter entering fifth grade at Oak Hill Elementary School.

Chris Buchleitner will serve as a secondary representative for the Broadneck cluster. “I am an Anne Arundel County citizen and have a student in one of our local schools, so naturally I'm interested participating in school improvement ideas,” Buchleitner said. “I was a former teacher and principal and am currently an assistant superintendent of school operations in the Archdiocese of Washington Catholic schools.”

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