Jozkowski hopes to bring experience as pediatric

Editor’s note: The Carroll County Times is profiling candidates for the Carroll County Board of Education leading up to the July 19 primary elections. In the nonpartisan race, voters may choose three candidates on their primary election ballots. The top six vote-getters will advance to the general election. Seven candidates are running for three open seats: Tara Battaglia, Pat Dorsey, Amanda Jozkowski, James Miller, Pat Sands, Tom Scanlan and Steve Whisler. Katie Speert is also listed on the ballot but withdrew from the race in June.

When Amanda Jozkowski chose her campaign slogan, “Students to citizens. Classrooms to communities,” she envisioned helping students graduate with “excellent” academic skills that prepare them for community life.

“This [will] include socio-emotional learning, critical thinking and problem-solving, media literacy, art appreciation, and more. … We also need to do better to support our students with different learning needs, including neurodivergent thinkers, speakers of other languages, and those with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities,” Jozkowski said.

Jozkowski, 38, is a licensed pediatric occupational therapist and tenured professor at Towson University.She earned a bachelor’s and master’s in occupational therapy from Towson and a doctorate in occupational science from the University of Southern California.

In addition to teaching, Jozkowski has experience in executive leadership, strategic planning, curriculum design, and program evaluation.

“As an OT, I have participated in and contributed to IEP meetings and planning for accommodations and have supported children and youth experiencing mental health crises,” she added. IEPs, also known as individualized education plans, are written legal documents that outline special education instruction, support and services for students in kindergarten through 12th grade to help them thrive in school.

Jozkowski said her previous roles would make her an asset to the Board of Education.

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“My combined experience in education, health care, program management and student support services give me a breadth and depth of skills that will allow me to serve with confidence and competence. I understand the data and value expert opinion in the decision-making processes related to health and safety issues, such as pandemic response, increasing mental health concerns, and gun violence in the schools and our community,” she said.

If elected, Jozkowski said she would “create an environment of respect and belonging” for all students, staff and families in the school system.

“This can be done by addressing bullying and hate incidents and promoting a culture of inclusion in the schools through restorative approaches,” she said.

Jozkowski said that she would advocate for continuing the school system’s recovery and learning opportunity programs. CCPS announced in March 2021 a multimillion-dollar recovery program for students who were not meeting enrolled grade level standards based on local and state assessments and grades in the first and second quarter in the 2020-21 school year. At the time, about 2,500 special education students and about 3,500 general education students were estimated to need help recovering from pandemic-related learning loss. Compensatory and recovery services were offered during summer 2021 and during the 2021-22 school year with extended learning opportunities after school, Saturdays or other times.

“[They] have been helpful in remediating some learning loss for most students who have participated. … We should continue these programs and expand them, if possible,” she said.

Working to recruit, retain and empower highly qualified school system employees, while providing better training, increased compensation and prioritizing more diverse hires, are also important strategies for Jozkowski.

“I am eager to bring my energy and expertise to the board so I can serve as one part of the ‘village’ that it takes to help children grow into thoughtful community citizens,” she said. “I will work in partnership with families, community leaders and organizations, and our great CCPS staff — all critical components of that village.”