I grew up in a family that valued education of all kinds at all levels, and during my time here in southern Maryland, I have worked to increase educational opportunities for the youth in our area.

I was involved with the founding of the Chesapeake Public Charter School (CPCS), working closely with the St. Mary’s County Board of Education to bring parents and students another option for public education in St. Marys. CPCS, as one of the public schools in St. Marys, follows the same curriculum and testing as the rest of the public schools and employs St. Marys County Public School teachers. CPCS is now in its 11th year of operation and serves 420 students.

I founded the Southern Maryland Youth Orchestra and Choir (which now serves over 100 students in the tri-county area) to afford our talented singers and musicians an opportunity to learn and perform with their peers at the highest levels without having to travel out of the region to do so.

It is important that we invest in public education in our counties. The Kirwin Commission has determined that education is woefully underfunded. We are educating our future generations, and we need to ensure that we are funding at the appropriate level, and even increase funding for certain populations in order to close the achievement gap. We must also continue to fund high quality professional development for our teachers.

Higher education in our region is also important. We need to strengthen the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) and the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center (SMHEC) and continue to offer a variety of vocational/technical options to all of our students. We should also ensure that all of our students and families have access to affordable college planning.

I believe that we must continue to protect public education, ensure funding for our public schools, and offer a variety of options, such as STEM or Fairlead Academy, or the Tech Center, for students and parents so that all of our students will have the education and skills they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow.