2018 Primary election results

Dana Schallheim

Dana Schallheim
  • Non-Partisan
  • Age: 42
  • Residence: Severna Park

About Dana Schallheim

Education

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Accredited Professional, 2008 MBA, University of Brighton, Brighton, England, 2002 BA Business Administration, Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington, 1998

Background

For the last seven years I have been an at-home mom during which I have volunteered often at my daughter’s schools drilling math facts, managing projects for staff, supporting classroom activities, and planning and chaperoning field trips. Volunteer work has always played a huge role in my life, feeds my soul, and is what I am called to do. In total, I have been a volunteer and advocate for more than thirty years. Highlights of my volunteer career include being named the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi’s Volunteer of the Year and leading a campaign that raised $80,000 through the Children’s Organ Transplant Association. Prior to having my daughter I was an energy consultant on behalf of the Federal Government and utility companies executing energy efficiency and renewable energy programs on their behalf. I was a volunteer in my mother’s 4th grade classroom throughout high school and college.

Questionnaire

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1
Teacher raises
The Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County continues to advocate for a return of step increases given up during the 2008 recession. Should the Board of Education fund these increases?
Schallheim: I absolutely believe that the Board of Education must honor its veteran teachers via returning step increases lost during the 2008 recession. Annual salaries found in surrounding school districts are considerably higher, causing low teacher morale as well as retention problems at every school level. One veteran teacher mentioned that she and her colleagues feel devalued and demoralized by not receiving these missed steps, especially knowing some less experienced teachers are paid more. It is highly disruptive to children in any grade when their teacher leaves, someone with whom a strong bond has been formed. Problems with teacher retention are also potentially devastating for high school students who are applying to colleges and universities and need college recommendations. One example illustrating this growing problem occurred at Annapolis HS when a very experienced and talented AP Psychology teacher left his 11th and 12th grade students mid-year in favor of a better paying out-of-state job. Additionally, Annapolis HS’s much adored Language Department Chair also left for a job in a nearby county before some of her students had the chance to ask for college letters of recommendation and left Spanish students with a series of substitutes, some of whom couldn’t speak Spanish. AACPS should provide all its teachers, substitutes, secretaries, and staff with salaries and working conditions equal to their counterparts in surrounding counties. Retention efforts preserve the wealth of knowledge and experience of our veteran teachers and costs far less than recruitment, especially because Maryland is a net importer of teachers.
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2
School security
The county has committed to additional funding for school security. How do you want to see this money spent?
Schallheim: Full-time School Resource Officers (SROs) must be assigned to more schools. SROs provide needed school security as well as serving as positive role models and mentors to students. Staff also benefit from their SRO’s depth of training and experience in handling difficult or potentially dangerous situations. Although there may be greater need for SRO presence at middle and high schools, as we’ve seen with the Sandy Hook tragedy, I believe that eventually all schools, including every elementary school, requires an exclusive and full-time SRO. Additionally, all schools must be upgraded with video monitoring systems along with a double set of locked doors at main entrances and upgraded classroom locks. These physical barriers can potentially prevent, or limit the scope, of dangerous incidents. Beyond securing school and classroom entrances, hiring the recommended number of mental health staff must be a priority. Children do not become a threat to themselves or others overnight. I firmly believe that many tragedies could have been prevented if these children were better supported from an earlier age, and warning signs were taken seriously and handled appropriately. Currently, AACPS lacks the number of school counselors, school psychologists, social workers, and pupil personnel workers to meet student needs. The current number of school counselors is far below the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) recommendation ratio of 1 counselor to 250 students, with most school counselors currently supporting more than 700 students.
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3
Bullying
Parents have complained to the current board about bullying at schools. How do you feel the board should address this issue?
Schallheim: Benjamin Franklin was once quoted as saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This quote is still true today. Solving bullying isn’t just about punitive consequences, but also involves mitigating against the root causes. Shifting the AACPS culture towards one of prevention and finding sustainable solutions rather than reaction will yield better results and stop the cycle. Supplementary curriculum focused on tolerance, inclusion, boundaries, safe behavior, and treating others how we’d like to be treated should be required and implemented at every grade level starting with kindergarten. Culturally Responsive Teaching pedagogy can also be used as means of including our diverse student body, especially marginalized and underserved populations. Expanding mental health services, including hiring more school counselors, school psychologists, social workers, and pupil personnel workers, to staff-student ratios recommended by the ASCA and the National Association of School Psychologists is also critical to supporting both bullying victims and their perpetrators. Both bullying victims and perpetrators should be evaluated by mental health services staff and, if necessary, should involve parents and additional agencies. Likewise, teachers and staff require additional regular training on bullying, its causes, identifying instances before they become dangerous, and most importantly to take all student reports seriously and cease from categorizing any instances of bullying as minor. While the existing code of conduct should be in place and followed consistently, preventative measures can change the overall school culture towards one of tolerance and inclusion.
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