District 4 school board incumbent Patricia Eubanks hopes to use faith based volunteers to address individual school needs -- Gazette.Net



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Prince George’s County’s Board of Education incumbent for District 4 hopes to use Prince George’s County’s faith-based community to fill in resource gaps such as supplies and tutoring in her area schools.

Patricia Eubanks, 50, of Chapel Oaks is hoping for a second term to realize her goal after the April 3 primary. She beat candidate Aimee Olivo in the 2010 general election to win the seat and today faces challengers Joseph Kitchen, Dennis Smith, Sandy Vaughns and Micah Watson.

Vaughns finished third in the September 2010 primary, and the remaining three are first-time candidates.

Eubanks said her first term has been a learning experience, and her focus will be on linking the faith-based community, such as churches, mosques and synagogues, with schools, not to share their faith but to volunteer their time to read with students, donate school supplies and offer parenting classes.

District 4 schools span Bladensburg, Cheverly, Colmar Manor, Cottage City, Glenarden, Glenn Dale, Landover, Landover Hills, Riverdale, Seabrook and Springdale.

"There's a need in every school, and the needs are basic," Eubanks said. "Sometimes the school will get to the point where they need copy paper for their machines. Or you're in a community where the school doesn't have before and after care, but you know a lot of families that need that."

Eubanks visited District 4 schools one to three times a week and said this current term she was able to contribute her perspective as a single mother to school board meetings, particularly when it came to the expectations of parent involvement and access to technology to complete school work.

Eubanks said she reminded members of factors such as finding Internet access, waiting in line usually at a public library just to use a computer and then needing to get multiple assignments done on a time limit.

Shannon Eaddy of Brandywine, director of parental development at the Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center, said Eubanks is not just a person coming in from the outside but someone who is an active parent who wants all children to succeed and not just hers. Eubanks stayed involved with son James Bowman’s and daughter Patrice Eubanks' PTA groups at Landover's G. James Gholson Middle and Capitol Heights' Fairmont Heights High School.

James graduated from Fairmont Heights in 2009, followed by Patrice in 2010.

Eaddy, who has three children currently at Brandywine Elementary School, has counted on Eubanks as a reliable volunteer who teaches parenting classes at Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center.

“She's one of the people I always know I can call on if it has anything to do with parents and parents being involved in their children's education,” Eaddy said.

Steven Smith of Temple Hills, executive director of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, said that Eubanks has been helpful as a coalition member in encouraging parents to join the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and PUSH for Excellence “Parent Pledge.”

The national parent pledge initiative challenges parents to exchange numbers with their child's teachers, turn off the TV at least three hours a day and fight for adequate school funding.

Smith said as a single, but involved, mother, Eubanks made sure her children were meeting the requirements to graduate but saw issues that can sometimes plague low-income families such as school dropout rates and less access to afterschool programs.

"She definitely has a real life experience and can relate to citizens, especially in that particular district with a high percentage of single parents in the family," Smith said.

nmcgill@gazette.net