Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

Former teacher makes second attempt at school board

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Angie Fish has a lot to say about Frederick County Public Schools, and most of it is from personal experience.

The mother of four has three children in the school system and has seen the work of county schools through the eyes of a parent. As former president of the governing council of the Monocacy Valley Montessori Public Charter School, she also has the perspective of a parent advocate.

Add her degree in education and her 10 years of work experience as an English teacher, and it is easy to understand why Fish is running for the Frederick County Board of Education.

‘‘I care about the education of our children and preparing them for the future,” she said. ‘‘Not only have I been a teacher, but I am also a parent. I come at it from many different angles.”

Fish, 35, is one of 12 candidates running for the Board of Education in the Feb. 12 primary. After the primary, six candidates will proceed to the general election in November to compete for three open seats on the school board.

This is Fish’s second attempt to get elected to the board. In November 2006, she finished sixth among eight candidates who competed for four seats. Fish got a second chance one month later, when board member Barbara Craig resigned and county commissioners had to fill the position.

Commissioners ultimately chose Leslie Mansfield, who had come in fifth during that election, to fill the seat.

The experience did not discourage Fish; she spent the last two years building a foundation for the upcoming board election.

‘‘Now I have more name recognition,” she said. ‘‘I’ve been out in the community, I’ve been talking to people ... People have a lot of good input and I want to hear what they have to say.”

One of Fish’s priorities is to ensure that Frederick County can provide the highest possible quality education for its students. To do that, the school system must revise its existing curriculum, she said. In elementary math, for instance, students are expected to meet too many standards too fast, Fish said.

She also believes the school system may have to look for a better way to plan for school construction.

‘‘We have new schools that are already overcrowded,” she said. ‘‘Then we have old schools and portables ... We need to take a close look at our facilities master plan.”

Fish said Frederick County schools should offer competitive salaries for teachers and find a way, with incentives and bonuses, to retain those who tend to leave the system in their fifth year.

This is even more important with the additional pressure that the No Child Left Behind Act has placed on teachers, said Fish, who has, as a teacher, seen the effects of the federal regulations.

‘‘No Child Left Behind is great, in theory,” she said, ‘‘but it is under-funded. Before, there was more value placed on the teacher and [his or her] ability to teach.”

Angie Fish

Age: 35

Residence: New Market

Family status: Married; four children, three attend county schools

Education: Master of Arts in education at Syracuse University; Bachelor of Arts in English at University of Maryland

Professional background: Worked as an English teacher for 10 years in public and private secondary schools in Maryland, New York and Indiana