Date of birth: April 30, 1971
Address: 2708 Chestnut Grove Road, southeast of Keedysville
Education: Graduated from St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati; bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Notre Dame; master's and doctoral degrees in applied physics from Yale University.
Occupation: President and sole owner of Biaera Technologies, an aerobiology-related technology company. A major, he is a member of the U.S. Army Individual Ready Reserve.
Party affiliation: Republican
Political experience: Is serving his first term on the school board.
Q: What more should WCPS do to prevent bullying, including cyberbullying?
A student who does not feel safe in school cannot learn. Unfortunately, the advances in technology and social media that have changed the ways we communicate, also provide bullies with tools to extend their intimidating behaviors beyond the schoolhouse. The Board of Education passed a comprehensive new bullying policy in 2009. More significantly, each week over thirty minutes of valuable instructional time is dedicated to a new anti-bullying curriculum. We need to let these new tools work, track trends, and refine our curriculum while always remembering that behind each incident is a student whose education is at stake.
Q: Is there a specific area in which WCPS needs to improve student outcomes? If so, identify the area and suggest a course of action.
There is no specific area in which I am completely satisfied with student outcomes. I think that WCPS is a very good school system. I think that WCPS can be a great school system. To get there we need to improve student outcomes at all levels. We need to commit ourselves as a system to creating a culture of excellence. From the board room, to the classroom, to the athletic fields, to band, theater, math club and all of our activities, WCPS needs to be a system in which excellence is the standard in all that we do.
Q: What can the school system do to improve literacy among elementary school students?
Reading is the fundamental skill of learning. A child who cannot read to acquire knowledge by the third grade will fall behind in all subjects. The role of the Board is to establish a vision and set goals for the school system. Students start school at many different ability levels and with many different learning experiences. It should be our goal to ensure that wherever they start, all students read at least on grade level by the start of the third grade. The Board should empower the superintendent with the resources to implement initiatives and programming to achieve this goal.
Q: In light of the increasing costs for school construction and advances in technology, do you want the school system to change direction in how the curriculum is delivered and how so?
I believe that the best learning occurs when an excellent teacher works with a student who is ready to learn. I do not believe that technology will change that basic truth. What that interaction will look like in ten or fifty years, however, is difficult to know today. Technology offers new ways for teachers to reach students and customize instruction for individual needs. We must be forward-looking in embracing these opportunities. A school we build today, however, will need to serve our community for generations. We should not design new facilities that are limited by the instructional technology of today.
Q: What is one measure you would advocate to improve college readiness of graduates?
I would like WCPS to expand the college and career mentorship and counseling programs. Navigating the college selection, admissions, and financial aid processes can be overwhelming. The options are ever changing and expanding. Often, the graduates who achieve the best outcomes are those who have simply had the best advice. No WCPS graduate should make college or career decisions without the advice of someone who understands the student, their goals, and the available opportunities. Our goal should not simply be to graduate students. Our goal should be set each graduate on a trajectory for college or career success.
Justin Hartings - BOE Candidates Q&A
Justin Hartings (October 20, 2012)