Two con­tested races in BOE elec­tion

The Star Democrat - - LOCAL - By VIC­TO­RIA WIN­GATE vwingate@ches­ Fol­low me on Twit­ter @ vic­to­ri­adorstar and on In­sta­gram @dorch­

CAM­BRIDGE — When vot­ing in the 2016 Gen­eral Elec­tion, Dorch­ester County res­i­dents will se­lect can­di­dates for board of ed­u­ca­tion po­si­tions in two dis­tricts.

Early vot­ing polls are open at the Dorch­ester County of­fice build­ing, 501 Court Lane, be­tween 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. un­til Thurs­day, Nov. 3. Polls will be open be­tween 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Elec­tion Day, Tues­day, Nov. 8.

In district 1, in­cum­bent Glenn Bram­ble is op­posed by Robert Kirkley.

Bram­ble is vice pres­i­dent of the board of ed­u­ca­tion and is serv­ing his sec­ond term as a mem­ber. In his first term, he served as board pres­i­dent.

He was born and raised in Dorch­ester County, and has owned DSA Con­tract­ing in Cam­bridge for 45 years. In ad­di­tion to con­tribut­ing to the com­mu­nity as a lo­cal busi­ness owner, he has served on the Dorch­ester County Coun­cil, Cam­bridge Plan­ning and Zon­ing Com­mis­sion, and the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Crit­i­cal Area Com­mis­sion.

Bram­ble be­lieves the cur­rent mem­bers of the board of ed­u­ca­tion are work­ing well with Su­per­in­ten­dent of Schools Henry Wag­ner and staff in keep­ing costs low while still pro­vid­ing a qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion to stu­dents.

“Main­tain­ing com­pet­i­tive salaries for teach­ers and sup­port staff has been one of our ob­jec­tives,” said Bram­ble.

If re-elected, Bram­ble has a list of goals he in­tends to con­tinue work­ing to­ward.

“Achieve smaller class sizes, more teach­ers, ad­e­quate and en­vi­ron­men­tally safe schools, in­crease se­cu­rity and max­i­mize the dis­ci­pline that is gov­erned by the state; review all the pro­grams and en­sure they are ef­fec­tive in pro­mot­ing our stu­dents for a bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion; cap­i­tal­ize even more on the Dorch­ester Ca­reer and Tech­nol­ogy Cen­ter; find ad­di­tional ways of par­ent in­volve­ment. These are just a few of my pri­or­i­ties,” Bram­ble said.

Kirkley is the pas­tor of the Church Creek Charge. He served sev­eral years on the St. Mary’s County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion, be­gin­ning in 1987, and served 10 years with the Mary­land As­so­ci­a­tion of Boards of Ed­u­ca­tion. He was pres­i­dent of MABE for the 1996-97 school year.

He and his wife have owned prop­erty on Tay­lors Is­land for 45 years and moved to Dorch­ester County per­ma­nently in 2000.

Kirkley said in­di­vid­u­al­ized in­struc­tion is the best way to serve the stu­dents, and he is strongly against the Com­mon Core cur­ricu­lum. He said cur­ricu­lum should chal­lenge the more gifted learn­ers, which also will el­e­vate those stu­dents at the lower end of the grad­ing scale by giv­ing them a goal to reach.

“Com­mon Core hand­i­caps the ex­cel­lent stu­dent be­cause it is not ad­dressed to him or her. At the same time, it ne­glects the stu­dents at the low end of the scale,” he said. “It teaches to the av­er­age stu­dent.”

Kirkley also ad­vo­cates for a push to­ward post-se­condary ed­u­ca­tion, though he said vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion through Dorch­ester Ca­reer and Tech­nol­ogy Cen­ter is im­por­tant.

“We have too many stu­dents here who have no long-range goals ex­cept to get out of school as quickly as they can and get work­ing,” said Kirkley. “They get good jobs and they have good in­come, but they’re not re­ally be­ing chal­lenged for their po­ten­tial.”

In district 5, Laura Layton and Von­cia Molock are vy­ing for a seat on the board, and there is no in­cum­bent can­di­date.

Layton was a Dorch­ester County ed­u­ca­tor for 33 years and now serves as the pres­i­dent of the Dorch­ester County Re­tired Ed­u­ca­tors group. She has lived in the county for 45 years.

“Ed­u­ca­tion is who I am,” she said. “My life is ed­u­ca­tion. I re­tired in 2008 and joined DCRE. I be­came pres­i­dent in 2012, and I’ve been pres­i­dent for three years. Ed­u­ca­tion is what I think is the ba­sic im­por­tant thing in our so­ci­ety. I think it’s the foun­da­tion of all the rest of our so­ci­ety.”

A ma­jor is­sue Layton finds with the school sys­tem is what she terms the dis­mal teacher morale and high turnover rate. She said she aims to cre­ate so­lu­tions that will make teach­ers hap­pier to work for Dorch­ester County Pub­lic Schools.

“They’re out there to do the best job for the stu­dents, and if they’re hap­pier, they’re go­ing to do a bet­ter job. We have to find a way, and it’s not nec­es­sar­ily salary,” said Layton. “I’m not ad­vo­cat­ing rais­ing salaries. I’m ad­vo­cat­ing chang­ing the at­mos­phere in the build­ings and in the whole learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment.”

Speak­ing from per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence, Layton sug­gested chang­ing the at­mos­phere in the schools by hav­ing ad­min­is­tra­tors be more sup­port­ive of teach­ers in their dis­ci­plinary de­ci­sions.

“The teacher needs a bet­ter sup­port sys­tem from the ad­min­is­tra­tors. That is cer­tainly one of the ways, if not the main way, that teacher morale can be im­proved,” she said. “It is very dis­heart­en­ing when a teacher sends a stu­dent to the of­fice for be­ing dis­re­spect­ful or dis­rup­tive, and lit­er­ally five min­utes later, that stu­dent is back in the class­room. It is very dis­heart­en­ing and de­mor­al­iz­ing be­cause the teacher as­sumes that the ad­min­is­tra­tor is not tak­ing him or her se­ri­ously.”

Layton also ad­vo­cates for smaller class sizes, more in­di­vid­u­al­ized ed­u­ca­tion, re­duced test­ing time and truly in­vest­ing re­sources in ed­u­ca­tion. She said she re­al­izes that some of these things are de­pen­dent on state and fed­eral man­dates.

“Smaller class sizes are the key. The more per­sonal in­ter­ac­tion a child gets, the bet­ter you can suit their needs be­cause not ev­ery stu­dent learns the same way,” said Layton. “Ob­vi­ously, money is a fac­tor. If we’re go­ing to at­tract new busi­nesses, have ed­u­cated ci­ti­zens, if we’re go­ing to grow as a county we have to ed­u­cate our kids from day one. We have to put the money in to make these classes smaller, and par­tic­u­larly at the ele­men­tary level.”

Be­yond tra­di­tional ed­u­ca­tion, Layton said she feels the Dorch­ester Ca­reer and Tech­nol­ogy Cen­ter is un­der­used.

“I think higher ed­u­ca­tion is im­por­tant, but I think you also have to be re­al­is­tic and look at the pay scale for our skilled work­ers. There is good money out there in the skilled trades. That is one of the ar­eas where we need to do a bet­ter job,” Layton said.

Molock was raised in Dorch­ester County and is a grad­u­ate of North Dorch­ester High School. She earned her bach­e­lor’s de­gree in elec­tron­ics en­gi­neer­ing and tech­nol­ogy from DeVry In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy and her mas­ter’s de­gree in man­age­ment from Pur­due Univer­sity.

Molock cur­rently works as an in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy sup­port ser­vices man­ager. Her four chil­dren are stu­dents of the Dorch­ester County Pub­lic Schools sys­tem.

Vol­un­teer work is a large part of Molock’s life. She has vol­un­teered as a speaker for many pro­grams, in­clud­ing those held at Dorch­ester County schools. She also has served as a men­tor for in­terns, an oys­ter re­cov­ery project vol­un­teer and is ac­tive in her church.

“I am a proud prod­uct of DCPS, and I know the value of ed­u­ca­tion and life­long learn­ing,” Molock said. “I also know that I didn’t suc­ceed on my own. There were so many won­der­ful peo­ple in Dorch­ester County who gave me a strong foun­da­tion in terms of en­cour­age­ment, sup­port, schol­ar­ships, time and knowl­edge. I am run­ning to be­come a mem­ber of the Dorch­ester County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion to sup­port ev­ery child in this county in be­com­ing col­lege and ca­reer ready.”

Molock said she plans to build part­ner­ships with lo­cal em­ploy­ers to cre­ate bet­ter op­por­tu­ni­ties for stu­dents to be­come col­lege and ca­reer ready; pro­vide re­sources for class­room teach­ers; in­crease parental in­volve­ment in class­room ed­u­ca­tion; and use tech­nol­ogy ef­fec­tively.

Phil Rice is run­ning un­op­posed for the district 3 seat.

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