So far in Fairfax County School Board races, I’ve endorsed Abrar Omeish (at-large), Rachna Sizemore Heizer (at-large), Ricardy Anderson (Mason District), Laura Jane Cohen (Springfield District) and Karl Frisch (Providence District). This morning, I’m endorsing Melanie Meren for Hunter Mill District (currently held by Pat Hynes, an excellent School Board member who is retiring after this term). I met with Meren the other day and was very impressed with her knowledge of, involvement in and passion for the Fairfax County public school system. I believe she will make an excellent addition to the Fairfax County Public School Board, and wholeheartedly endorse her!
Just a bit of background on Meren. According to her campaign website, her “work to improve education spans decades,” beginning as a middle school student, when “she gathered hundreds of peer signatures to oppose school district budget cuts – her first foray into education advocacy.” Meren’s expertise on education grew when ” she began her career at the US Department of Education [in the Elementary and Secondary Education Office] in 2002, Master’s degree in hand from the Sanford Institute of Public Policy at Duke University.” Meren adds: “Traveling to states and meeting with educators showed Melanie the power that education policy has on educators, students, systems, and communities. Seeking a more holistic and effective approach to education became the core tenet to all her future work.”
Another thing I like about Meren is her “particular passion for connecting children with nature and environmental education.” Increasingly, humans are separated from the natural world, with disastrous results – both on people themselves and also on nature. That needs to change, and starting with kids is a great way to do it. Meren clearly “gets it,” as evidenced by her work and by this op-ed, where she writes:
Connecting students with their natural surroundings can inspire them to be the environmentalists we need while also helping them achieve in school! Students are motivated to learn when they understand how what they’re learning matters to them.
… The better we demonstrate the importance of environmental protection and community preservation, the more likely Fairfax residents are going to want to protect our fragile environment.
…Enviro Ed improvements and expansion will prepare our students for Virginia’s Green Economy. Engineers, computer scientists, and construction professionals are in high demand. We need these workers to understand the role of nature, the environment, and our community in their work – and the consequences of their decisions on where we live.
Much of today’s dialogue is drowned out by national debate on environmental topics, but we can promote our values as a responsible community in Fairfax County. Just like that classroom I built, I’m ready to scale this vision in Hunter Mill and our county by serving on the school board. If we connect our priorities for education and the environment, I believe together we can fulfill the promise of life in Fairfax County.
The bottom line is that, when it comes to public education, Meren is smart, passionate, knowledgeable, personable, progressive and a strong environmentalist. For all those reasons, she’s be an excellent member of the Fairfax County Public School Board, and I encourage everyone to vote for her on May 8 at 7:30 pm at Lake Anne Elementary School in Reston. Go Melanie!
P.S. Meren won last night’s Fairfax County Democratic Committee straw poll by a whopping 290-52 margin over her competitor, Andy Sigle. While Sigle seems like a good guy who’s been involved in his community, I agree with Fairfax County Democratic straw poll voters on this one…Meren is the best choice for this seat!
P.PS. I also agree with FCPS Pride (“envisions a public school system in Fairfax County, Virginia, in which all students, staff and families are safe and welcome, regardless of sexual orientation or gender idendity/expression”), which writes, “In the Hunter Mill District, candidate Melanie Meren has exhibited a strong interest in standing up for, listening to and learning about our communities. She earns our endorsement.”