Montgomery’s newest school board member brings youthful energy -- Gazette.Net


This story was corrected on Dec. 7, 2012. An explanation follows.

Supporters of Montgomery County’s newest elected official said she will bring a youthful energy to the Montgomery County Board of Education.

Rebecca Smondrowski, 44, of Gaithersburg, was sworn in as the school board’s District 2 representative on Dec. 4, taking a seat next to fellow board members for the first time.

“She brings [to the school board] a view as a mom, but also brings a little bit of youth to the board,” said Margaret Gates of Rockville, her campaign manager.

In the last decade, Smondrowski has worked her way up from advocating on behalf of her own two children as a member of their school’s PTA, to representing all county children as an officer of the countywide parent group, the Montgomery County Council of Parent Teacher Associations.

She left her position working as a legislative aide in Annapolis to start her own campaign last year — a decision that didn’t come easy for her, Gates said.

“We knew she was risking a lot,” Gates said. “But she did it.”

On Dec. 4, Smondrowski reminded everyone why she ran, stating that the school board must see that there is a safe school environment for every child, encourage personal relationships within schools and support quality teaching and high academics standards and expectations.

“I will advocate for the policies, the conditions, the collaborations and the community supports that foster that kind of organizational support,” Smondrowski said.

Smondrowski narrowly defeated Fred Evans of Rockville in the Nov. 6 election, with about 9,413 more votes than Evans and 51.3 percent of the total vote. Voters also re-elected board members Christopher Barclay (Dist. 4) of Takoma Park and Philip Kauffman (At-large) of Olney.

Other board members congratulated Smondrowski on her win Dec. 4.

“[Smondrowski] is really energetic and has lots of vitality,” said Judith Docca (Dist. 1) of Montgomery Village. “I think that will be an asset to the board.”

To stand out during the election, Smondrowski emphasized how she was a mother with children in the school system.

Her supporters say she will offer much more than that, such as strong personal relationships with several elected officials in the state and the county from her time spent advocating at the state level.

One of her main supporters, Del. Charles Barkley, said those relationships will benefit her in her new role.

“None of us operate in a vaccuum, and the county does much better when the state, County Council, and school board cooperate,” said Barkley (D-Dist. 39) of Germantown.

Smondrowski’s sister, Holly McDevitt, drove down from her home near Philadelphia to see her sworn in. She said she has no doubt that her sister will succeed.

“She amazes me,” she said.

Editor’s note: This story incorrectly stated that Smondrowski would be the only mother on the school board with children in the school system.