Brentsville Acting School Board Rep Applies to Be Interim PWCS School Board Chairman

| March 28, 2018 | 0 Comments | Education

Brentsville Acting-representative to the Prince William County School Board member Shawn Brann advocates for Code of Ethics in 2017.

Shawn Brann of Bristow has served as Acting-Brentsville School Board member on the Prince William County School Board for just over one year while Gil Trenum was serving in the navy reserves in the Horn of Africa.

Now that Trenum has returned and Chairman At-Large and Ryan Sawyers has resigned, Brann is one of 20 citizens applying to be interim Chairman At-Large until a special election is held in November. The school board will elect a temporary replacement on April 18 with a citizens’ comment time on April 4.

Brann, a former board member, former teacher, parent, and involved citizen, would return to the board with knowledge of how it operates, a working relationship with its current members, an understanding of the current issues within the school division, and an understanding of what it is like to work as a PWCS teacher.

Two others have more school board experience than Brann, Lucy Beauchamp who served as chairman for 13 years, and Don Richardson, Gainesville representative for 10 years, but Brann has more recent experience. Brann has not said he is better qualified; he said he works well with the current group. “Based on my very recent experience on the school board, I believe I can be an asset based on my positive relationship with the other board members and my love of education.”

He believes his good relationship with other members helped him to achieve goals, which benefited his community, such as the passage of a larger size model for the thirteenth high school to accommodate approximately 500 more students. To pass that, he had to secure two votes from those on the opposite side of the political spectrum and the opposite side of the county. Through compromise and communication, they worked out a deal that was mutually beneficial.

Brann realizes he did not learn all there is to know during his short time on the board, but he is eager to learn more. “It’s a learning process. It’s a process that I’m willing to take on again.”

He also believes he has the right temperament for the job.“[I bring to the position] a love of education. Calm. Respect for the position. A non-partisan viewpoint. The perspective of a parent and a former educator in the system. Fairness.”

Brann is former PWCS educator, and wants to be a strong advocate for other teachers and employees.

Though Brann is not the only K-12 educator who has applied – applicant Doreen Dauer served as the Supervisor of Student Assistance and Prevention Programs in Prince William County Schools until 2017, and Lisa Zargar is a public school music teacher who currently teaches at Keene Mill Elementary School in Fairfax; however, Brann notes being a teacher informs his perspective.

“I believe it helps a lot, because I know the day-to-day life of an educator in this system. I’ve walked in their shoes. Their jobs are not easy, and they deserve more respect and compensation for their incredible efforts to educate our children in PWCS.”

That is perhaps the reason the former acting-representative names improving the professional work environment for teachers a priority. “This year, specifically, has illustrated that we need to do more to ensure our teachers’ concerns are being heard – especially if they’re not being treated as professionals or if they’re being bullied in our system.”

He also knows teachers need good support from their peers in education. He applauds the board’s passage, especially the efforts of the decision to hire more social workers and counselors and said he applauds both Gainesville representative Alyson Satterwhite, now running for Chairman, and Potomac representative Justin Wilk for bringing those issues to the table.

Still, he laments the fact that employees did not get more of a raise, or another type of compensation.

“The current board made a lot of positive decisions in this year’s budget, so I’m hesitant to criticize or suggest what I would have done differently,” he said. “As a former teacher, I do think there’s always more that we can do to compensate the teachers in our system.”

Brann believes he is suited to represent all citizens of the county. He has lived on both sides of the county and taught in mid-county, providing him with a broad perspective of the county.

“I did teach at Woodbridge Senior High School and value those seven years at the school tremendously. I was a resident of Lake Ridge and Dale City for 11 years of my almost 20 years of residence in Prince William County, which is longer than my time in the western part of the county,” he said.

Now, he lives in Bristow and his children attend schools on the western end of the county, but the concerns for other areas of the county stay with him as does the knowledge he learned serving on the Joint CIP Process team with members of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors.

“It gave me a valuable perspective on what many of older schools are going through in terms of need and infrastructure,” said Brann. “We do have to do more, and I would support (Vice Chair and Occoquan representative) Ms. (Lilly) Jessie, Ms. (Loree) Williams (Woodbridge), and others in that process.”

Brann believes he can unite different people. He is not an official member of either party, and believes there is a reason that the Virginia School Board members run without declaring a party affiliation. “I am more conservative at this point in my life, but I have been the opposite at other points in my life as well.”

In addition to getting board members to work more collaboratively, Brann would like to improve relations the superintendent and the school board, and the school board and the board of county supervisors. He believes he has the right temperament to work well with everyone and bring people together.

Brann said he has no ambition to run for the Brentsville as long as Gil Trenum wants to be his representative, and he has no intention to run for Chairman in the special election. He hopes the board will consider him as interim chair so that he can usher in a smooth transition.

This article is not an endorsement for Shawn Brann by this publication. 

© 2018, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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