SMOB candidate Cameron Reed is a junior at Springbrook High School.
This article is the fifth part in a series of personal interviews with the six SMOB candidates for the 2015–2016 academic year. Candidates were interviewed by MoCo Student staff writers Kaamiya Hargis and Matthew Zipf. You can learn more about current SMOB Dahlia Huh, as well as SMOB elections and responsibilities here. All interviews have been edited for both length and clarity.
HARGIS: The diversity of Montgomery County, in both its opportunities and population, has translated to an open-minded approach to education. Can you share any specific ways in which the area has impacted who you are as a person?
Montgomery County’s diversity has simply improved the education of MCPS as a whole. I has so many different cultures and opinions from a global perspective, and I think that that can really improve our educational system and the way we view all things. Having a global mindset is important for Montgomery County students, who will undoubtedly be working all over the world. I’m in the IB program at my school and the program definitely helps me to become a better writer and speaker, and to become better in all my classes because I utilize information from all over the world.
The diversity of Montgomery County in our electives, classes, and sports has also improved me as a person. I play lacrosse and piano and am in the Model United Nations and NHS at my school. Not every county has these kinds of clubs, and that’s why Montgomery County is one of the best. We can offer our students these extracurricular activities, classes, and electives that really help them to grow, not only as a student, but as a person.
HARGIS: What drives your ambitions, both inside and outside of student government?
I really want to improve education for all students, especially those that may not have been given the resources to succeed on their own. I have a little brother in sixth grade at Ridgeview Middle School, and it’s really important to see him and his peers do well in the future. Inside of student government, it’s really exciting to be able to see change happen and experience how that change benefits our county. It’s a powerful tool that, again, speaks to the diversity of our county–how we offer our students the best, but how we can continue to do better.
Outside of student government, I’m driven to succeed in everything I do, particularly in sports and extracurricular activities. I wish to pick a field in business or engineering–I’m also in the Academy of Information Technology at my school. I’m driven to pick those fields because I feel they’re the future of the world, the best way I can make a difference in the long term.
HARGIS: Of all the issues on your platform, what would be your primary concern as next year’s SMOB?
One year isn’t a long time, but I think that the achievement gap is by far the most important issue this year. Montgomery County is one of the top counties in the nation, however, we are not the top county in the nation for all of our students. That is a huge problem. i think all students deserve the full benefit of an MCPS education in all aspects, and the fact that some are not receiving that due to a variety of factors is a big problem that definitely needs to be addressed.
As SMOB, I would definitely reach out to every single school in order to find out more about specific gaps in each school so that we can address them individually. That’s the only way to attack this. You can’t really understand someone’s problems and why they’re experiencing what they are if you haven’t talked to them and taken the time to get to know their environment as a whole.
Aside from that, I would also wish to adjust the budget. Spending affects every policy we make–all the legislation that comes from the BoE or from the Maryland General Assembly. So, I would definitely work with the Board of Ed to adjust our funds in order to allocate them to meet the needs of students in the context of all the problems they may be experiencing.
HARGIS: What do you value most in a SMOB, and how will you embody those values?
I most value the ability to flawlessly communicate with students and with legislators–BoE members, County Council members–to bridge that student/legislator gap. Students can’t always go straight to legislators, so the SMOB is in a great position for carrying the needs of the students to the legislators and not leaving until they say yes.
I would describe that as determination. The SMOB needs to not only be able to understand the students, but also be able to stand up for them and speak on their behalf, and I know I’ll be able to do that. I draw my passion for student advocacy from communicating with students directly–from getting perspectives from my little brother, from other students at Springbrook High School.
HARGIS: Can you discuss your qualifications to be SMOB?
I see the SMOB position as the next step on my journey to improve education in MCPS. In ninth grade, I worked with my school’s SGA. In tenth, I interned for the County Council, working on the Transportation and Energy Committee, as well as the Education Committee. I was a student representative there, which you could definitely compare to the SMOB position. Now, in eleventh grade, I am working on MASC, which is the state SGA, as a “SLACer Network”–not a “slacker,” but a Student Legislative Affairs Coordinator Network. I coordinate all the students’ legislative priorities from all over Maryland. I also work as Legislative Affairs Deputy for MCR, and lastly, on the SMOB Advisory Council, as an at-large member who focuses mainly on the legislative department.
HARGIS: Finally, the best SMOBs leave behind a legacy (for instance, John Mannes formed the MoCo Student). What mark do you plan to leave on the county?
I would like to ensure the benefit of an MCPS education for all students by finally closing that achievement gap. One year may not be a very long time to do so, but I think that, in one year, by reaching out to all schools, a lot can be accomplished and addressed about specific problems related to the achievement gap.
One thing I would like to institute is a summer scholarship. I know that I’ve applied to several summer programs over the past couple of summers, and I know that a lot of my peers have as well. It can be difficult to pay for these programs, some which cost money at various universities. Those same students that may not be fully benefitting from an MCPS education during the school year should at least be encouraged to supplement their education during the summer. I would like to introduce a summer scholarship so that those students could improve their own education on their own time.
I actually have tons of other interesting and fun ideas that could help benefit MCPS. One would be an All Star game. I play lacrosse and it’s only a twelve-game season, so it’s kind of sad to see the season end, and I know a lot of my peers concur on this fact. I’d like to institute an All Star game so that those students who are recognized as the best of the county’s athletes could compete at a host school in a variety of sports. These events could raise money for the county, possibly to fund the summer scholarship idea I had. They could also just be great for people from all around the county to get together and have fun.
Also, the Educational Affairs Department of MCR had an Educational Think Tank this year, and I’d like to expand that idea and make it into a competition. While I believe students like to come together and discuss their ideas, I know they like to compete even more. i think a competition would be great, wherein students would, at their schools, brainstorm a way in which they could improve some aspect of their education in the county. School administrators would then narrow those ideas down to one, which would then go on to the county level where all the ideas from all the schools would be narrowed down as well.