A Camp Springs pastor says his background in community organizing has given him the ideas and experience to help improve the Prince George’s County public schools system.
Orlando Bego, 35, pastor of Centerpoint Church in Temple Hills, is running against incumbent Edward Burroughs III for the District 8 Prince George’s County Board of Education seat.
Bego, who previously lost to District 7 school board member Henry Armwood in 2010 before Bego moved into District 8, said he has a plan to improve schools through a combination of better coordination among government agencies and local businesses and nonprofit organizations, a stronger support structure for teachers and more outreach with community organizations.
Bego pointed to work he did in Washington, D.C., to help organize a program called Project Soar to provide mentoring and tutoring to District elementary and middle school students as evidence of his ability to bring together various community stakeholders to improve education. The program is run by District nonprofits Upper Room Outreach Services and World Vision International in conjunction with District government agencies.
“My background in community organizing has allowed me to form partnerships with both local, state and federal government agencies in an effort to bring resources to children, youth and families,” Bego said.
Bego described how he would push to develop a “10-year strategic plan” for county schools, with input from county officials as well as nonprofit, community and business organizations so that as administrators and superintendents change, there is still a framework for improving schools and relationships between agencies are not severed.
Bego said he would also advocate for better professional development for teachers so they can continue to provide students with the highest-quality teaching methods.
“Our teachers already have so much on their plate, and we have to make sure that if our model for the county is that children are first, we must understand that teachers come second,” Bego said. “So they need to have the resources to be proper educators, as well as the necessary training to stay on the cutting edge for different types of programs, like [science, technology, engineering and mathematics].”
Toni Ross, 60, of Mitchellville, said she worked with Bego when they were both at the District-based Metropolitan Prevention Institute, where they provided tutoring to youths in District schools along with other community support services like food pantries. Ross said Bego’s greatest asset is his ability as a “bridge-builder.”
“He can communicate well with younger people and share some of their concerns and ideas with executive staff,” Ross said. “So he can build those kinds of bridges, and he has a passion for parental involvement and guidance in the development of young people.”