As a part of our local Ward 4 election coverage, we had conversations with three of the four candidates who are running for the Ward 4 seat on the State Board of Education. The new member will be determined by a special election on December 4th. Previous Ward 4 member Lannette Woodruff stepped down from the position in July.
In this chat, we meet Rhonda Henderson who has a wealth of experience in the educational and executive arenas.
So, I thought the mayor had control of the schools. What is the State Board of Education?
The State Board of Education is the only locally elected body that reports to our constituents. We provide oversight and accountability and approve policies that relate to high school graduation, attendance, family engagement, and other standards.
If you’re elected, what are your top three goals for your first term in office?
If I’m elected, one of my goals for success will be 1) That Ward 4 knows that they have an advocate on the State Board of Education. I’ve spoken to a number of families and they’re not always sure who to go to when they have concerns. So one measure of success will be that our families and our teachers, anyone in Ward 4, knows that they have an advocate in Rhonda Henderson on the board. Second, another measure of success will be that our parents and our families and our teachers believe that we had a high quality school system. We have a challenge in retaining our high quality teachers, our effective teachers. So we’ll see an improvement in our retention rate. We’ll also know that our families believe and have confidence that our schools are responsive to them.
Why should Ward 4 residents vote for you?
Ward 4 should know that I’m a native Washingtonian. That I understand their experience because I’m a graduate of Banneker Academic High School. That I’ve also worked in public education for over 20 years in a diversity of roles. They’ll know that I have both the understanding of what it’s like to be in the classroom. Also what it’s like to work in school leadership and also to be involved in our community. So I hope that they will know that I’ll work hard for them every single day to improve access to high quality schools for all of our students. That our teachers and our educators will feel supported and believe in their career in public schools and that our community will also be more engaged in supporting our students and all of our families.
Do you have anything else you’d like to share about your campaign?
This campaign has been a true passion of love and a journey of learning, of humility, of getting to know all of our residents and to understand their concerns. I’d like people to know that every single day I’m working really hard to understand the issues that are most important to them to bring transparency, to bring responsiveness from our city agencies to our families. That we’re working really hard to restore faith and confidence in our school system.
What do you do to relax in the city?
I’m a DC native. I love exploring our new neighborhoods. I enjoy reading, hiking. I’m a member of the New Bethel Baptist Church…so I enjoy spending time at church. I spend a lot of time with my family. You may have seen my nephew door knocking with me during the campaign. I also exercise a lot and hang out at the gym.