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VOTE411 Voter Guide

School Board Catoctin District

Loudoun County, Virginia is divided into eight magisterial districts: Algonkian, Ashburn, Blue Ridge, Broad Run, Catoctin, Dulles, Leesburg, and Sterling. The magisterial districts each elect one representative to the School Board. In addition, there is one At-large representative. The Loudoun County School Board is elected to a four year term. The Loudoun County Public School, LCPS, system is managed under the direction and authority of the Loudoun County School Board. The chairmanship of the School Board is elected annually by its members. While the School Board makes decisions relating to school policy and curriculum, it receives funding through the Board of Supervisors.

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    Jenna M. Alexander

  • John P. Beatty

  • Candidate picture

    Zerell S. Johnson-Welch

Biographical Information

What do you believe is the top priority for your district, and what is your plan to address it?

How do YOU describe the job of School Board member?

What about your background makes you a good choice for this position?

What position papers/ Q&As have you completed and where can a voter find them?

What long-term (chronic) issues do you want to address while in office?

Experience Vice President Advocacy, Virginia PTA Director, Hunt District PTA President, Hamilton Elementary PTA Treasurer, Hamilton Elementary PTA Product and Strategy Management Director, Investments & Capital Markets Industry
Education B.S. Business Administration B.A. German, Economics Minor F.H. International Business (German BS) Held Series 7 and 63 licenses Fluent in German and Romanian
My two immediate priorities are to address safety and communication. As longer term priorities, I would like to expand the current STEM/technology focus to integrate the arts, bring back world languages in elementary school, better integrate agriculture education to reflect our booming agritourism industry and ensure our oldest school buildings are renovated.

An Ad-Hoc Committee on School Safety needs to be formed to prioritize and address key safety concerns including; bus transportation and walk zones, secure visitor management, SROs and SSOs, construction of security vestibules, renovation of aging schools, reducing overcrowding, vaping, online safety and mental health.

Communication is not simply timely information sharing, it’s also engaging with parents and welcoming them to participate. LCPS should shift from sharing accomplishments on social media to regular emails about district wide progress on strategic goals, policy revisions and proactive updates when there is a crisis.
The School Board member is an advocate, like myself, for every student and LCPS staff member in the county and importantly represents the needs and interests of their specific election district. The School Board is responsible for setting the vision and goals of the school district, holding the school district accountable for results, communicating those goals and results to the public and maintaining an efficient school budget that is fiscally conservative with high education standards. It's critical that School Board members be relationship and coalition builders with deep understanding of legislative policy and financial management and that they work closely with the Board of Supervisors to effectively plan for new schools and support workforce development. I have a successful track record of coalition building and advocating for changes to policies to better support our students and am the only candidate that has a history of advocating for the unique needs of the Catoctin District
I currently serve as the Vice President of Advocacy for the Virginia PTA and am the only school board candidate who works at the state level to push changes down to LCPS. I have authored position statements and resolutions on mental health, aging school building renovations, smalls schools, world language instruction and advancing equity and diversity, which now guide PTA advocacy work in schools across Virginia. For the past two years, as Director of the Hunt District PTA, I oversaw all of the PTAs in Loudoun and worked with parents, teachers, principals and administrators on issues unique to each school.

I bring a unique ability to understand differences across the county and see where Loudoun excels where we need to improve from a state perspective. I am the only candidate with experience building successful coalitions to drive change. My professional experience in the investments and capital markets will help ensure we close operating efficiencies and are fiscally responsible.
My children attend Hamilton Elementary and Blue Ridge Middle School. As a parent, when they get on the bus in the morning, I want to know that they will be safe and that they are emotionally and academically supported. As a tax payer, I want my tax dollars to be used wisely and efficiently. In addition to my work for parents across Loudoun and Virginia on school safety, mental health, support staffing, aging school renovations, teacher compensation and diversity and equity, I am the only candidate that has consistently worked to protect Loudoun’s smallest schools and looked for opportunities to support agriculture education. You can read resolutions and position papers I have written on mental health, aging school building renovations, smalls schools, world language instruction and advancing equity and diversity as well as news coverage of my work on my website
Loudoun’s 2018-19 SOL scores indicate that student performance has dropped for the second year in a row and shows a significant achievement gap for Hispanic, African American, economically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities. This is a nationwide and decades-old problem that needs to be critically addressed with strategic actions dedicated to measurable strategies that create education equity and work to close the gap. LCPS (and many divisions across the state and country) need to continue work that fosters an environment that addresses systemic unconscious bias, increases minority participation in gifted services, closes the achievement gap, increases hiring diversity, requires cultural sensitivity professional development, explores curriculum imbalances and promotes cultural understanding by supporting world language instruction. LCPS needs to translate the school profile reports and include teacher diversity, professional development courses and languages spoken.
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Experience As an engaged parent of three LCPS graduates, an attorney, and 25 years in service as a mentor. I have over a decade of experience working with the community and LCPS' impact division goals, disciplinary practices, academic performance disparities and hiring and retention practices.
Education Holy Family Diocesan High School Colgate University SUNY StonyBrook Washington College of Law, JD
The physical and emotional safety of our students is a top priority. Research supports when children feel safe in their classrooms learning is enhanced. I plan to require LCPS to adopt a comprehensive and aggressive safety improvement plan that requires intentional communication with the community about school level emergency preparedness protocols /procedures.

I will seek to utilize every resource that makes sense, thwarting potential threats in our school and community. I will expand the discussion of safety to include a more holistic preventive approach that will require school leaders to examine their own school’s climate. We will work toward collective teacher efficacy, ensuring that our teachers feel valued, confident and are provided with the necessary resources, compensation, and professional development so that they can focus on building meaningful teacher-student relationships. Our children learn from teachers they like.
I would describe the job of the school board member as one that requires a person to be trustworthy, be of enormous integrity and have a strong work ethic. The job requires the school board member to be pragmatic, focused and understand the three primary areas of responsibilities- policy, administrative and judicial. The School Board member must be knowledgeable, and skilled advocates at the local, state and national levels for public education. The job requires effective communication skills, especially the ability to listen and collaborate. These characteristics I hold in high regard and are consistent and unwavering in my professional and personal endeavors.
I am an attorney, as such, I have professional experience and training advocating for vulnerable groups (veterans, and children) on the local, state and federal level. I am a 12 year Catoctin resident, and a mother of three LCPS graduates, all recent graduates from Virginia Universities – Vtech – William and Mary and UVA, with degrees in Engineering, Computer Science and one currently in medical school. I am vested in my community and my state. I have an exceptional record of community service, educational advocacy, and parental engagement. I was a two-term Committee Chair to the LCPS school board advisory committee, founding member of the high school PTSO, and founding member of two community-based service organizations. I chaired several academic fairs and two LCPS sponsored town halls focused on law enforcement and school safety. I was recently appointed to the LCPS Ad Hoc Committee on Equity, LCPS Outreach, and Tuscarora High's Counseling Advisor Committee.

Loudoun Now - Shift in Leadership Blue Ridge Leader Loudoun Mirror Times
Academic performance disparities still exist! Disparities have existed for a very long time with no meaningful intervention by LCPS> Improvement in the areas requires an acknowledgment that every identifiable learner, ALL Students, deserves a classroom experience where they feel SAFE, WELCOMED and INSPIRED to dream big! Improvement in this area requires a fundamental belief that our educators understand the need to connect and build relationships with their students. In order to be effective in this area, employee expectations at all levels must be defined and clear. It requires a true understanding that barriers and challenges impact the outcome and vary from group to group. The goal would be to develop an equitable education that provides specific resources so that each child has an opportunity to be successful.