Red Maryland Candidate Survey: Dr. April Zentmeyer for Washington County Board of Education
Dr. April Zentmeyer
Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy, University of MD, College Park, 2014
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Administrator/teacher, 30 years
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Citizens for April@DrAprilZentmeyer
Why are you running for office?
My life’s passion is teaching kids to love learning and supporting the people who make this happen. Now it is my turn, and I am running for Washington County School Board to give back to the system that educated me and provided a blessed life of service.
Who do you consider your political role model, and why?
I have many role models, but it is easy to highlight Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. My hope is that I will think outside of the box, consider all angles carefully before expressing an opinion, budget strategically, and effectively play both a leadership and supportive role as required. These are some characteristics I admire in our Governor as well.
What is your favorite book about politics and policy, and why?
“Thomas Jefferson, The Art of Power” by John Meacham powerfully details a founder and framer of the Constitution. I think is important to understand our history and the Constitution, and the rights and responsibilities established in the document.
What is your favorite book about education, and why?
One of my favorite books about education is “When Kids Can’t Read, What Teachers Can Do” by Kylene Beers – a book of strategies to engage the most reluctant reader. I believe that every teacher is a teacher of reading. This book provides practical tools for every classroom.
What will be your top priority on the Board of Education?
Creating a safe school environment where curiosity and the love of learning are fostered by quality teachers and an engaged student body is the priority. When we design schools, bigger is not always better. Smaller classes, building community, promoting student achievement, and teacher retention can also help to achieve this goal.
What is the biggest issue facing your county schools?
The people most responsible for learning, our teachers and students, must feel safe and supported in the classroom.
What is your position on the Kirwan Commission recommendations?
Who can argue against investing in our youngest learners; teacher compensation; college and career readiness standards; career and technology-education pathways; and increased resources, supports, and services for students? The Kirwan Commission provides a great blueprint for the future of education in Maryland, but I am concerned that the funding and resources to implement the proposals, as well as, an accountability plan are lacking.
What are the three biggest issues facing Maryland schools?
Creating a safe school environment where curiosity and the love of learning are fostered by quality teachers and an engaged student body is the priority. When we design schools, bigger is not always better. Smaller classes, building community, promoting student achievement, and teacher retention can achieve this goal. Professional teachers are the mainstay of the education system and they need to be recognized with respect, supported and compensated.
Have you read your county schools curriculum? If so, which parts do you like and which parts do you dislike?
I am most familiar with the high school curriculum as an administrator, and was privileged to work on curriculum committees as a teacher. I like that it sets measurable standards for student achievement through a solid scope and sequence. However, it must remain organic and should be continually under revision to prepare students for a world of work that is evolving. Many jobs that will be available for our elementary students do not yet exist, while other jobs are disappearing. We need to be agile in our approach in preparing students to gain knowledge and to think critically for the world they will inherit.
What is your position on school spending?
There are many demands and funding them all is challenging. Tough decisions are required in prioritizing programs and funding for the “here and now”, while preparing for future requirements. We need to be careful stewards because sometimes a way to save money on one hand can lead to unintended consequences that undermine the educational environment and outcomes for our students. Great ideas must be fully funded before implementation in order to assure success.
Please identify the three areas which you believe should be prioritized when it comes to school funding
What is your position on teacher tenure?
I support tenure for teachers. For teachers, tenure is a reward and recognition of their professionalism, competence, and dedication. If a tenured teacher is underperforming, there are policies and procedures in place to support the teacher and address the situation.
What is your position on standardized testing?
Testing provides valuable benchmarks to measure student achievement; however, we need to be careful how it is used to make critical decisions affecting schools, teachers, and students. Testing reports that students are achieving state standards, provides direction for teaching, indicates where attention is needed, and rewards a job well done. While tests are invaluable tools for teachers to use when adjusting and maximizing instruction, great teachers teach beyond the context of tests. Testing scores do not always capture achievement effectively or illuminate the many variables involved in teacher, student, and classroom situations.
What is your position on classroom size?
It is of the utmost importance. Smaller class sizes are generally the better approach for students and teachers. Smaller class sizes provide better outcomes. We should strive to have limits on K-12 teacher-student ratios in each classroom.
Do you believe the Board of Education should have taxation authority?