DENTON — Five candidates have filed to run in the June 2 election for Caroline County Board of Education. There is one seat open on the board each for District 1 and District 2. Running in District 1 are Donna Louise DiGiacomo and Bryan C. Ebling — and for District 2, Richard Barton, Paul Schoonover, and Terenda Thomas will appear on the ballot.

DiGiacomo and Schoonover, who have campaigned together, are both former teachers in the Caroline County Public School system, and feel strongly about “positively influencing the current educational system to produce productive citizens of the future.”

As former teachers we have a front seat view of education today, said DiGacomo and Schoonover, who take a grassroots approach to education where all shareholders including students, teachers, parents, administrators, and the community work together.

“We need to lead by example,” said Schoonover, “We need to teach and reach our students through our actions, not just our words.” The two plan to focus on school environment, communication and educational philosophy.

They also highlighted a concern over teachers “retiring and leaving Caroline County in larger numbers than usual”, and plan to work on teacher retention. DiGiacomo said, “We need to let our teachers know that they are appreciated and that we want them to stay here in Caroline County. Students also need to feel valued and safe.”

The two also believe there needs to be more transparency between the board and the public, and Board meetings should be more accessible to the public, with the possibility of live streaming those meetings.

Running in District 2, Terenda Thomas, a Labor Exchange Administrator, directs and coordinates the workforce development activities for the state’s Upper Shore region, which includes Kent, Queen Anne’s, Talbot, Caroline and Dorchester counties. Thomas is on the Board of Trustees for the Caroline County Public Library, and has served as a member on several CCPS school-related committees including the School Improvement Team, Citizen’s Advisory Committee, and the Equity & Excellence in Education Committee.

“I feel strongly that educating our youth is key to developing those who are our future,” Thomas said. “Students must be ready to compete in the world of work, and must achieve a level of education which makes them competitive, and/or prepares them for educational pursuits beyond the secondary level. It is therefore vitally important that resources, fiscal, material and human, are allocated and managed effectively so the students of Caroline County obtain a quality education.”

When schools resume normal operations, extra efforts will be needed to assure students regain what may have been lost in educational attainment during this time, noted Thomas. “This will likely require the commitment of resources beyond the norm. Efforts to identify and commit those needed resources will undoubtedly be made well before the seating of the new school board members. However, it is important that continued focus remain with the effective and efficient allocation of resources to assure that students are on par with where they should be. Also, without knowing the full impact the State of Emergency will have on school system budgets, it is difficult to definitively commit resources. Projections are possible, but wise and prudent deliberations will be needed.”

“I recognize the importance of a quality education, and it was in the Caroline County Public Schools system that I gained my foundation,” she said. “I am interested in seeing that all students are afforded a quality education that prepares them for the next stage in life.”

Bryan Ebling, recently retired as the Director of Emergency Services in Caroline County, is running for board member in District 1. A life member of the Ridgely Volunteer Fire Department, Ebling is also a Certified Emergency Manager, and former instructor for the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute. Ebling considers among his assets extensive knowledge of local government and the relationships needed to remain progressive and successful.

Ebling’s experience with the school system is as a parent and volunteer and also assisting the Board in developing and implementing Crisis Plans for each school.

“It is the district’s responsibility promote and implement various strategies that provide for a safe learning environment. I fully support the School Resource Officer program, securing the schools and other safety related policies and activities,” said Ebling.

Ebling is also a proponent of the College and Career Readiness programs that prepare young citizens for college, vocational schools or entry directly into the workforce.

“Caroline County Public Schools should continue to identify opportunities for every student’s success. When our children are prepared and confident to progress to the next step in life’s journey, our economy grows, our communities become safer and more vibrant, and we thrive as a society,” he said.

Still Ebling said he recognizes the challenges that face Caroline County in generating revenue. “We must maintain fiscal responsibility throughout all matters brought forth. Those challenges and opportunities that can make us stronger, more creative and more collaborative throughout our county, municipal and school administrations.”

Editor’s note: Candidate for District 2, Richard Barton, was also contacted for participation in this story, but was unable to be reached for comment.

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