Board of Education → Education Matters

Education Matters

Hosted by the BOE President, Education Matters is a 30-minute talk show where guests discuss education news, curriculum programs and initiatives, as well as challenges that schools, teachers and students face. The show features school success stories and what MCPS is doing to overcome barriers to student achievement.

Board Roundup and School Security

Education Matters (May/June 2018): In the Board Roundup segment, Board of Education (Board) members discussed the issues and actions of the Board, including the negotiated agreements with the three employee associations; the Distinguished Service to Public Education Awards; discussion about identifying and nurturing highly able learners; Policy JED, Residency, Tuition, and enrollment; Policy FAA, Long-Range Educational Facilities Planning; and Career Technology Education.  The program also included an in-depth discussion regarding the recent measures of the Board to ensure that our students, staff and schools are safe and secure. The show is hosted by Board President Michael Durso and featured Board Vice President Shebra Evans, Board Member Patricia O’Neill, and Student Member of the Board Matthew Post, as well as MCPS Safety & Security Supervisor Michael Harting and MCPS Department of Facilities Management Director James Song.

Past Episodes

Board Roundup and Fiscal Year 2019 Operating Budget

Education Matters (March 2018): In a new segment called the "Board Roundup", Board members discuss issues and actions of the Board of Education, including safety and security, decisions concerning the Capital Improvements Program (CIP), state legislative news, and the naming of the new elementary school.  The program also included an in-depth discussion regarding the Fiscal Year 2019 Operating Budget in another new segment called the "Deep Dive". The show is hosted by Board President Michael Durso and featured Board members Jeanette Dixon, Patricia O’Neill, Jill Ortman-Fouse, and Rebecca Smondrowski.

MCPS Calendar and Budgets

Board President Michael Durso speaks with guests about the changes and decisions surrounding the MCPS academic calendar, as well as the process and expenditures of the school system's capital and operating budgets. Guests include Andrew Zuckerman, Essie McGuire and Nicky Diamond.

Technology and Leadership at MCPS

Vice President Judy Docca leads a discussion about the important roles that technology plays at MCPS, as well as the many roles of principals who provide strong leadership at their schools. Guests include Peter Cevenini, MCPS Chief Technology Officer and Christine Handy, Principal of Gaithersburg High School.


Board President Michael Durso leads a discussion about the varied partnerships MCPS has fostered with government agencies, businesses and organizations, and the benefits they bring to students and staff. Guests include Elaine Chang-Baxter with the MCPS Partnership Unit, Maria Tarasuk with the MCPS Curriculum Department and Chelsea Soneira with Junior Achievement.

Meet the Teacher of the Year and New Student Member

Board President Michael Durso chats with the newly named MCPS Teacher of the Year Nancy Shay and the newly elected Student Member of the Board Matthew Post.

Meet the New Board Members

Board President Michael Durso talks with newly elected Board of Education members Jeanette Dixon and Shebra Evans about their backgrounds, their educational ideas and their work on the board.

Recruiting & Retaining Diverse Teachers

Board President Michael Durso leads a discussion about the school system’s initiative to recruit and retain a more diverse teaching staff. Guests include Dana Edwards, Inger Swimpson and Daman Harris.

Student Engagement

Board President Michael Durso talks with teachers and students about how lessons and extracurricular activities are engaging students with hands-on experiences, project-based learning, and real-world applications. Guests include Dan Evans, Rebecca Kaplan and Fatmata Barrie of the Richard Montgomery High School Mock Trial Team, Technology Teacher Kimberly Skufca from Shady Grove Middle School and Music Teacher Mary Hochkeppel of Sligo Creek Elementary School.

Safety & Security

Board President Michael Durso leads a discussion about the measures and supports which are put into place to keep our students, staff, and schools safe and secure. Guests include Supervisor of School Safety & Security Doug Steel, Police Captain Tom Didone, Assistant Chief of Police Darryl McSwain and School Resource Officer Joseph Lowery.

Meet New Superintendent Jack Smith

MCPS Superintendent Jack R. Smith Ph.D is the special guest on Education Matters. Hosted by Board President Michael Durso, the show includes conversations about the Superintendent's educational career, his view about the art, science and heart of education, as well as his vision for MCPS.

The Role & History of the SMOB

The current Student Member of the Board (SMOB) Eric Guerci leads a discussion with Montgomery County’s first SMOB David Naimon, who served from 1978-79, and former SMOB Alison Serino, who served from 1989-90, about the history and significance of this student-elected position.

Mentoring MCPS Students

Board President Michael Durso speaks with John Smith, President of the Task Force on Mentoring, about the value of providing mentors to students, training current high school students to become mentors to younger students, and some of his mentoring experiences throughout his educational career.

Educating African American Students Past & Present

Board President Michael Durso leads a discussion about the importance of Black History Month, the education of African American students both past and present, as well as issues surrounding the achievement gap. Guests include Judy Docca, Vice President of the Montgomery County Board of Education and Anita Neal Powell, President and CEO of the Lincoln Park Historical Foundation.

The MCPS Capital and Operating Budgets

Board President Michael Durso speaks with two principals about their newly constructed schools, the significance of the capital budget to maintain and build new space for students, as well as the importance of receiving a fully-funded operating budget and how that money is used at the school level. Guests: Deb Mugge, Principal of Wheaton High School and Jennifer Lowndes, Principal of Rock Creek Forest Elementary School.

Growing Enrollment; Increasing Needs

Board President Patricia O’Neill leads a discussion about the growing enrollment at MCPS and the efforts to increase classroom capacity as MCPS releases its new six-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP). Guests include Bruce Crispell, Director of Long-Range Planning, James Song, Director of Facilities Management and Frances Frost, President of the MCCPTA.

MCPS Assessment Strategy

Board President Patricia O’Neill discusses the possible changes to MCPS testing strategy to include the phasing out of the two-hour semester final exams in high school courses, as well as new ways to calculate final semester grades. Guests include Erick Lang, Associate Superintendent of Curriculum and Instructional Programs and Scott Murphy, Director of Secondary Curriculum & Programs.

Meet the SMOBs

Board President Patricia O'Neill speaks to former Student Member of the Board (SMOB) Dahlia Huh and current SMOB member Eric Guerci about their responsibilities, duties, as well as issues facing the school system, students and teachers.

Conversation with MCPS Educators of the Year

Board President Patricia O'Neill talks with some of the 2015 MCPS Educators of the Year who were recently honored at the Champions for Children's Gala. Guests include MCPS Teacher of the Year Joseph Gannon, a social studies teacher from Damascus High School; Lisa Bligen, a special education paraeducator from Argyle Middle School and the 2015 MCPS Supporting Services Employee of the Year; and Betty Collins, who during her 47-year tenure with MCPS has served as a teacher, principal and currently the director of the Department of Instructional Leadership Support. Ms. Collins is this year’s winner of the Dr. Edward Shirley Award for Excellence in Educational Administration and Supervision.

Operating Budget

Board President Patricia O’Neill discusses the Board of Education’s Fiscal Year 2016 Operating Budget request, the increase in funds needed to support the school system’s growing enrollment, and what is at stake if the budget is not fully funded. Guests include MCPS Interim Superintendent Larry Bowers, MCEA Vice President Christopher Lloyd and MCCPTA President Frances Frost.

Superintendent Search

Board President Patricia O’Neill talks with Hank Gmitro, President of HYA, the executive search firm that is assisting with the hiring of the next MCPS superintendent. Together they talk about the steps in the process, how the public can share their opinions and get involved.

Workforce Diversity

Board President Patricia O’Neill hosts a discussion about the school system’s initiative to hire and retain more diverse educators and school personnel. Guests include Andrew Zuckerman, Chief of Staff for MCPS; Troy Boddy, Director of the Equity Initiative Unit for MCPS; Jeff Martinez, Director of the Department of Recruiting and Staffing for MCPS; and Inger Swimpson, Director of the Department of Certification and Continuing Education for MCPS.

Student Learning Objectives (SLOs)

Board President Philip Kauffman discusses the new Student Learning Objectives or SLOs that all teachers and administrators must write. SLOs provide educators with a tool to analyze student data, create specific goals for targeted groups of students, build strategies, monitor results and reflect on their teaching. Guests talk about the implementation process, tips and the benefits of SLOs.  Guests include Loretta Woods, Instructional Specialist, Center for Skillful Teaching & Leading; Sarah Sirgo, Consulting Principal, MCPS; Jennifer Webster, Principal, Damascus High School; and Traci Townsend, Principal, Earle B. Wood Middle School.

Safety & Security/Code of Conduct

Board President Philip Kauffman leads a discussion about the new MCPS Code of Conduct, as well as how MCPS keeps our students and staff safe and secure. Guests include Bob Hellmuth, Director of Safety and Security; Keith Greene, Security Assistant at Tilden Middle School, Stephanie Williams, Director of Policy, Records & Reporting; Myriam Rogers, Principal of Paint Branch High School; and Christopher Garran, Associate Superintendent of High Schools.

Summer Preparations for the New School Year

Board President Philip Kauffman talks with MCPS directors and principals about the many vital activities, tasks and works that take place over the summer months to prepare for the upcoming academic year. This one-hour special program explores new MCPS construction and maintenance projects, the hiring and scheduling process, summer training, the innovative technology initiative and more. Guests include: Donna Redmond Jones, Principal of Rosa Parks Middle School; Kara Trenkamp Director of the Department of Instructional Technology; Alan Goodwin, Principal of Walt Whitman High School; Jeff Martinez, the Director of Department of Human Resources; Kathy Lazor, Director of the Department of Materials Management; James Song, Director of the Department of Facilities Management; and Todd Watkins, Director of MCPS Transportation.

Substance Abuse and Students

Board President Philip Kauffman discusses how Montgomery County is handling substance abuse in schools. Topics of discussion include the role of parents, county government supports, alcohol and drugs of choice, substance abuse indicators, as well as prevention and outreach plans that foster greater communication among students, school staff and the police department. Guests included Montgomery County Council President Craig Rice, Police Captain Thomas Didone, Director of Student Services Ursula Hermann and school psychologist Pamela Lester.

Join Board President Phil Kauffman as he hosts a discussion about food and nutrition in our schools.

Topics of conversation include the importance of breakfast, fresh new menu offerings, online conveniences and how the school system works to provide free and reduced meals to students during the school year and summer months. Guests: Marla Caplon, Director of Food and Nutrition Services for MCPS and Molly McCloskey, Director of Maryland No Kid Hungry.

The Common Core

Board President Philip Kauffman leads a discussion about the Common Core State Standards to include the MCPS roll-out, teacher training, new testing measures, the benefits and challenges. Guests include Marty Creel, Niki Hazel, Carole Working and Margie Sybert.

Student Voices

Board President Christopher Barclay talks with a dozen MCPS high school students about their opinions and ideas about their school system. Questions and comments centered around the possible changing of bell times, high school stressors, the importance of extra-curricular activities, testing and homework, as well as what makes a great teacher.

Early Childhood Education

Board President Christopher Barclay hosts a conversation about the value of early childhood education, both in the home and in more formal settings. The show discusses many resources for parents and child care providers, as well as the positive impacts that early childhood education can have on students when they enter elementary school. Guests: Janine Bacquie, Director of the Division of Early Childhood Programs and Services at MCPS and Kate Garvey with Montgomery County's Department of Health and Human Services.

Academic Partners

Board President Christopher Barclay leads a discussion about the important academic partnerships that MCPS has with local organizations. Guests include George B. Thomas and Michael Thomas of Saturday School, Gabe Albornoz with the Montgomery County Recreation Department and Cynthia Rubenstein with Passion of Learning.

Options After High School

Board President Chris Barclay discusses with guests the options available to students after they graduate from high school, to include 2 and 4-year colleges, trade schools, the military and the world of work. Guests include John Randall, Audrey Hill, Genevieve Floyd and Cynthia Hammond Davis.

Transitions to Middle School and High School

Board President Chris Barclay leads a conversation about the issues students and parents face as they make the transition from elementary school to middle school, as well as from middle school to high school.

Board President Chris Barclay discusses Alternative Education Programs at MCPS

Guests include Dr. Ira Thomas, the principal of MCPS Alternative Education Programs and Karenina Vanlennep, the lead social worker with MCPS Alternative Education Programs.

Special Education

Guests include Dr. Ira Thomas, the principal of MCPS Alternative Education Programs and Karenina Vanlennep, the lead social worker with MCPS Alternative Education Programs.

ESOL Instruction in MCPS

Board President Christopher Barclay discusses services for MCPS students in the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program.

Special Education

Board President Chris Barclay discusses a variety of issues surrounding special education which include student identification, disproportionality concerns, allowing access to the most rigorous curriculum, early interventions, Autism, partnerships, the importance of training and para-educators, and family involvement.

 Student Voices

Board President Shirley Brandman candidly speaks with a diverse group of high school students to hear their ideas and concerns about their schools and education. Topics of discussion include student engagement, building positive relationships with staff and preparing for the future.

Educators of Excellence

Board President Shirley Brandman speaks with some of our school system’s award-winning educators to learn about their approach to teaching, how they engage and relate to students and how they are helping fellow teachers become more effective in the classroom.

Equity and Student Achievement

Board President Shirley Brandman discusses the importance of equity in the classroom, how teachers are working to create culturally responsive classrooms and schools, and how this will foster higher student achievement, especially among the school system’s minority students.

Social Emotional Learning

Board President Shirley Brandman discusses the importance of social emotional learning and how MCPS continues to bring this into schools. This 30-minute talk show highlights the benefits of social emotional learning to include stronger life skills, higher academic achievement and an overall positive school environment.

The Power of Student Government

Hosted by Board President Shirley Brandman, this month’s Education Matters talk show discusses student governance and leadership opportunities. The show also talks about the benefits student government bring to schools, students, and MCPS as a whole.

The Montgomery County Latino Youth Collaborative

This program, hosted by Board President Shirley Brandman, discusses The Latino Youth Collaborative, issues surrounding Latino youth, and what MCPS and its partners are doing to better serve this growing segment of our school population.

The MCPS Operating Budget

Board President Shirley Brandman leads a discussion about the fiscal year 2013 operating budget, highlighting how the school system seeks community input during the budget process, the need to prioritize spending, and the importance of advocating.

Career Readiness

Board Host Shirley Brandman talks with guests about career readiness and what MCPS is doing to give students the skills sets needed for the 21st Century workplace.

2012 Legislative Session

Board President Shirley Brandman discusses with guests the impact that the current Legislative session in Annapolis will have on education.