For Megan McLauglin, early school experiences helped her develop a life-long desire to pursue knowledge beyond high school and into everyday life.
“The elementary school that I attended, the teachers seemed passionate about the learning process," she said. "And they engaged students, and that made me passionate about learning up to now."
McLaughlin, the Democratic candidate running for school board in Braddock District, is a native of Santa Rosa, Calif. She has an identical twin and is one of three daughters born to a mother who was a real estate agent and a father who taught high school.
After high school, McLaughlin moved to Pennsylvania to attend the University of Pennsylvania and met her future husband. After college, the couple moved to Delaware before finally relocating to the Washington, D.C., metro area in 1989.
McLaughlin received her graduate degree in social work from the University of Maryland and worked as a college admissions officer for Georgetown University. She has also worked with Fairfax County Juvenile Domestic Relations Court, dealing with delinquency and custody issues.
McLaughlin is a mother of three sons: a 10th grader and a ninth grader attending W.T. Woodson High School and a sixth grader at Canterbury Woods Elementary School. She said she hopes to impart to her sons her love of life-long learning.
McLaughlin has made a name for herself in local education advocacy through Fairfax Education Coalition, FAIRGRADE and Renovate Woodson Now (RENEW).
These organizations have been, at times, at odds with the Fairfax County School Board. FAIRGRADE, founded by McLaughlin and three others, petitioned the school system to re-evaluate grading policies. Group members felt the policies hurt students because students in other counties had higher grades but similar test scores. She also was on the leadership team of RENEW and co-founded the Fairfax Education Coalition.
Still, McLaughlin said, relationships between the board, teachers, students and parents need not be adversarial.
“We need to look at parents and teachers as partners in a school system,” she said. “We need to look at parents as an asset that can help identify where there are things we can improve together. What I am interested in is that we provide a quality education for every child.”
McLaughling's platform for public office includes budgeting to focus on the classroom, transparent and accountable decision-making, quality education and partnerships between taxpayers, teachers, students and parents.
McLaughlin said she believed while No Child Left Behind and Virginia Standards of Learning had a purpose, they have hindered creative teaching and analytical thinking.
“If my children came home and said ‘I had a great day at school today because my teacher taught me something that got me so excited that I want to find out more about that topic,’ that, to me, means that they connected with the child,” Mc Laughlin said. “They presented them with information that was interesting and exciting and that helps to spur on that love of learning, and that is really what we should be doing in our public schools.”