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Prince George's County Schools Look To Improve Image

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Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker announces the creation of a commission to expand the STEM classes at public schools on Wednesday, June 16.
Matt Bush
Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker announces the creation of a commission to expand the STEM classes at public schools on Wednesday, June 16.

Public schools in Fairfax County, Va. and Montgomery County, Md.routinely receive lofty national rankings. But in Prince George's County schools don't receive the same accolades.

Prince George's County schools have a public relations problem, says county executive Rushern Baker, who believes he has answer. Baker named members to a commission this week that will help expand science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) classes, at county schools.

Part of that expansion includes letting parents and students know those classes are offered. Baker made his announcement at the IT training classroom at Fairmont Heights High School in Capitol Heights.

"By showing parents, and residents, and businesses what a great job we're doing in Prince George's County we get greater engagement," Baker said.

Students at the school received Internet Technology certifications for the first time this year, and some plan to open a community repair shop this summer to fix electronic equipment. Baker says the program exemplifies how Prince George's schools still have something to offer, even if they don't get same rankings as neighboring areas.

Cullen White heads the IT academy. 

"When I see a student being restless in class — not sitting down to do their reading or not amped up to write an essay for me — instead of saying, 'You're not doing what you're supposed to', I say, 'Let's go do something different. Let's change gears here,'" White says. 

Changing gears means fixing what's broken with a computer or a television. And White's students are enjoying doing that so much, they'll open a repair shop at the school this summer.

"For them to know that they can go home, they can pick up a machine that's not working or pick up an iPod with a cracked screen, and they can bring it to school the next day and learn how to fix it, that gets them very excited and very engaged in my classroom environment," White says. 

Baker fears the repair shop is one of many stories going unnoticed.

"We want to make sure that not only are we doing great things everyday, but everywhere, and [that] people know about it," he says. 

The commission will be able to appropriate county funds from areas such as healthcare or economic development to education, if that's the recommendation of its members. 

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