School board chairwoman Verjeana Jacobs plans to focus next term on incentives to motivate, keep effective teachers -- Gazette.Net


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Verjeana (Jeana) Jacobs

Candidate name: Verjeana (Jeana) Jacobs
Running for: Board of Education District 5
Place of residence: Mitchellville-Bowie
Age: 44
Time in county: 29 years
Place of birth: North Carolina
Current occupation: Chairwoman, Prince George’s County Board of Education; Prince George’s County corrections administrator; attorney; part-time faculty member, University of Maryland, College Park
Education: Juris Doctor, District of Columbia School of Law (David A. Clarke School of Law ); Bachelor of Arts, University of Maryland, College Park
Community associations: As a Board of Education member for six years (five years as chair), I am actively engaged in numerous community and civic organizations that serve parents and students. I attend the First Baptist Church of Glenarden and Evangel Cathedral.
Professional associations: I am a member/affiliate of the following professional associations: National School Boards Association; Council of Urban Boards of Education; Center for Reform of School Systems; Maryland State Bar Association; American Bar Association; Federal Bar Association; Prince George's County Bar Association; J. Franklin Bourne Bar Association; Maryland Association of Corrections & Criminal Justice Coalition; American Corrections Association; and Branch Banking & Trust (BB&T) Advisory Board
Family: Husband, David; 7- month-old son, David Micah; family cat, Jeremiah
Email: citizensforjeanajacobs@comcast.net

One of the things that Prince George’s County Board of Education Chairwoman Verjeana Jacobs (District 5) wants to do if re-elected is develop a personnel manual that would clarify expectations for employees in the school system.

“It would drive how we operate, what is acceptable, how we reward good performance and how we can incentivize people so they stay in the county,” said Jacobs, 44, of Mitchellville.

Also running for a four-year term in the district are first-time school board candidates Raaheela Ahmed of Bowie, Deidre Jackson of Upper Marlboro and Sherine Taylor of Largo, as well as Sharon Theodore-Lewis of Mitchellville, who ran against Jacobs in 2010.

The top two vote-getters in the nonpartisan April 3 primary will face each other in the general election Nov. 6.

Jacobs, a lawyer and one-time hearing examiner for the school system, works full time managing a staff of nearly a dozen people as division chief of the county Department of Corrections Office of Professional Responsibility and Legal Affairs.

She won one of four at-large seats on the school board in 2006 for a four-year term, serving as vice-chairwoman for a year before being elected chairwoman in 2007.

If re-elected, Jacobs said, she wants to find ways of rewarding effective teachers and administrators with not only money but also support. Not every principal, for example, can be promoted to a higher position, but that person might be offered additional challenges to help maintain motivation.

“They would stay in the job, but maybe given some more responsibilities,” said Jacobs, who also wants to set clear performance standards for those not doing as well.

Jacobs said that during her tenure the school system has started to stabilize, and she wants to continue moving in that direction. She cited her efforts last year to keep board members informed about proposed changes but also focused on overall goals during debates over controversial budget cuts and this year, over school boundary changes.

In 2010, Sandy Short of Bowie along with other Whitehall Elementary parents in Bowie successfully convinced Jacobs with support from the school board to reverse a decision by Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. to shift some students from Whitehall to Kenilworth Elementary, both in Bowie.

“I feel the quality of the teachers and the administers has improved, and I think we’re heading to the point where we can finally be proud of being in a Prince George’s County school,” Short said.

This year Jacobs said she did not support parents at Heather Hills Elementary in Bowie who opposed plans to convert the school to all talented and gifted students, nor did she support Forestville Military Academy parents who opposed integrated non-military students into the school because she didn’t think it served the overall needs of the system.

“She may not always agree with you, but she researches the issue and always gets back to you,” Short said.

Marie Crabbe of Upper Marlboro, who has worked with Jacobs for 22 years at the Department of Corrections, said she is “a great leader.”

“She is an example of hard work, high integrity, and she really sets a high standard,” said Crabbe, the department’s assistant division chief for population management.

For a district boundary map, visit www1.pgcps.org/board; for a list of District 5 schools, visit schools.pgcps.org.

vterhune@gazette.net