UPPER MARLBORO – Surrounded by family and her future colleagues, Mary Kingston-Roche of Hyattsville was officially sworn in as an at-large member of the Prince George’s County Board of Education on Thursday, Jan. 28. “I’m very excited and honored,” Kingston-Roche said. “I’m just excited to apply my passion and belief for an excellent education for […]
UPPER MARLBORO – Surrounded by family and her future colleagues, Mary Kingston-Roche of Hyattsville was officially sworn in as an at-large member of the Prince George’s County Board of Education on Thursday, Jan. 28.
“I’m very excited and honored,” Kingston-Roche said. “I’m just excited to apply my passion and belief for an excellent education for all kids to this position so I can help ensure that all kids in Prince George’s County get a great education.”
Kingston-Roche is the director of public policy for the Coalition for Community Schools at the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL), a role in which she advocates for community schools at the state and federal levels. She has previously served as manager of government relations for the National Association for Secondary School Principals.
A graduate of Boston University (with a bachelor’s degree in English) and Duke University (with a master’s degree in public policy), she began her career as a sixth and ninth-grade English teacher in the Oakland (Calif.) Unified School District.
Kingston-Roche also mentors high school youth through Capital Partners for Education and helps with the Hyattsville Teen Advisory Committee.
“From the very first time she walked into the office, I said ‘that’s the right person,’” County Executive Rushern Baker III said. “Your commitment and your family’s commitment, your husband, to move into Prince George’s County on purpose, to be willing to dive into the issues involved in making this a great county, I think you have everything to continue to add to the board to continue to make progress.”
Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) Chief Executive Officer Kevin Maxwell said he first met Kingston-Roche several months ago and was impressed by her work and that of her organization.
“Next thing I know, I hear she’s being considered for the board and I’m like, this is like magic,” he said. “I look forward to working with you on the board. We’re accomplishing a lot, I believe, in a short period of time and that’s going to continue.”
Board of education Chair Segun Eubanks said although he had not previously met Kingston-Roche, he was very familiar with IEL, having done work with them in the past and attended many of the same leadership programs that Kingston-Roche had.
“On behalf of all of my board colleagues, welcome to this incredibly important, incredibly demanding work we are doing on behalf of the children, the parents and the citizens in Prince George’s County Public Schools,” he said.
Kingston-Roche was selected by Baker to fill the board seat left vacant with the summer 2015 decision by Daniel Kaufman to vacate the seat.
“We don’t take any of these appointments lightly,” Baker said. “This has been the longest process to get a board member because the standards are high.”
Kingston-Roche said a major goal for her as a board member would be to increase family and community engagement with PGCPS, for example, through the parent universities, and to expand the Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative to encourage “cross-sector collaboration” to meet all of the students’ needs. While she said it might be challenging to educate the public about the strides the school system has made, she believes it to be important to do so.
“We want to really communicate all the positive things the schools and teachers are doing so parents all across the country can feel confident that their neighborhood school is a good school,” she said.
She also wants to make sure the investments made according to the strategic plan are in-line with the system’s priorities and goals and “work deliberately” to close the achievement gap while simultaneously raising test scores county-wide.
“At the same time we continue to improve academic performance, we want to make sure we also improve all dimensions of young people’s learning – cognitive, social, emotional, civic – so we are preparing young people for society who are well-rounded and ready to contribute to a thriving community,” she said.