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Monique O’Grady to Serve as New School Board Chair

Monique O’Grady has been selected to serve as Arlington School Board Chair for the 2020-2021 school year.

O’Grady takes over the rotating chairmanship from Tannia Talento, who along with Nancy Van Doren is retiring from the School Board after this year, setting up a three-way race to fill the two empty seats.

Arlington Public Schools is preparing to begin the school year on Aug. 31 in a hybrid learning model, with most students only going to in-person classes twice per week. O’Grady said in a statement that communication and collaboration “will help us serve our students, families, and staff through these challenging times.”

In addition to O’Grady’s selection as chair, the School Board selected Barbara Kanninen as Vice Chair at its organization meeting earlier today.

O’Grady, the mother of actress Brittany O’Grady, has been a member of the School Board since 2018 and an APS parent for 23 years. She is a “longtime community advocate and communications professional,” according to her APS biography. Kanninen has served on the School Board since 2015 and was named one of the Most Powerful Women in Washington by Washingtonian in 2017.

More from an APS press release:

At its July 1 organizational meeting, the Arlington School Board selected Monique O’Grady as School Board Chair for the 2020-21 school year. The School Board selected Dr. Barbara Kanninen as Vice Chair.

“Communication and collaboration are setting an important foundation as we prepare to reenter school this fall. We are stronger together, and these two actions will help us serve our students, families, and staff through these challenging times,” said new School Board Chair Monique O’Grady.

On collaboration, O’Grady had the following message. “We will need to continue to collaborate with the County to maximize success within new fiscal constraints that may get worse before they get better. We will need to lean on our community leaders and partners to support our families in need. We must honor our teachers and staff as they work with students in different ways, and we must be ready to support our students social emotional and learning needs, because they will be on the frontlines of this change.”

“I enter this situation ready to lead because of the support of the school board staff and each of my colleagues, who have all been board chairs before. I have learned a lot from you and will continue to treasure your expertise and guidance. I have special gratitude for Ms. Talento who mentored me through the past year as her vice chair. Her intelligence, kindness, wit and compassion are an inspiration to me.”

She concluded her remarks by thanking the Executive Leadership Team and those who came before her. “Thank you, Executive Leadership Team, as you work overtime to craft and support a reopening plan that serves our students. Thank you to all the women and people of color who have served on this board before me, including Evelyn Syphax, for whom our offices are named. Thank you to my family for their constant support in my effort to serve our community. And thank you to all those who helped me earn the opportunity to be the first black elected woman in Arlington so I can serve our students and families in this important role.”

The next regular School Board meeting is scheduled for the evening of Thursday, July 16.

Photo courtesy Arlington Public Schools

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