First southwest area candidate files for Baltimore County school board

Matt Gresick, a teacher who lives in Catonsville, is the first candidate from southwest Baltimore County to put his name on the ballot for the area’s Board of Education seat.

Gresick filed his candidacy for the nonpartisan seat in November for the 2018 election, then announced his campaign on social media in December.

The election will be a first for the Baltimore County Board of Education, which will switch this year from an all-appointed board to a hybrid system with seven elected members — one for each County Council district — alongside four members appointed by the governor.

The District 1 seat Gresick is running for is currently held by Nick Stewart.

Gresick, a history teacher at Howard County’s Reservoir High School, said he plans to focus on improving schools as a workplace for teachers. That, he said, will translate into better student outcomes.

“I really do believe that if you make a place that people want to come to work, and value that sacrifice, it makes it a better place, for teachers and for students,” Gresick said.

“He’s qualified,” said Del. Eric Ebersole, a Democrat who represents the southwest area in the Maryland legislature. Ebersole, who got to know Gresick while teaching at the same school before becoming a legislator, said he is endorsing Gresick, in part because he considers “point-of-delivery experience” an important quality for a Board of Education member.

“He’s very well informed on things,” Ebersole said of Gresick, “And he has a way of getting people to listen and become educated on those things.”

One way to improve teachers’ experience, Gresick said, is to slow a fast-changing education environment that makes teachers feel “bombarded” by new curriculum, grading systems and policies.

“We try to change too much too fast,” Gresick said. “And while there definitely needs to be improvements being made, what’s happening now, unfortunately, is we keep shoving new stuff down teachers’ throats.” That, he said, distracts teachers from their most important task: educating students.

“I do feel that teachers are undervalued,” he said.

That focus on teachers carries over to Gresick’s views on the use of technology in classrooms, a hotly debated issue in the wake of Baltimore County’s initiative to give laptops to every student.

“[Technology] is a double-edged sword,” he said. “It should be a tool, but it should not replace teaching.” While Gresick supports using technology to teach students skills such as coding, he said he has also heard from parents concerned about their children being at screens for long periods of time.

School safety is another countywide issue Gresick is concerned about; in November, a few dozen Baltimore County teachers went to a county Board of Education meeting to protest a lack of discipline in schools, saying multiple teachers have been hurt.

Gresick said his plan to reduce violence in schools would include “finding people that are administrators that we can trust their discretion in applying restorative justice principles, along with setting a tone of ‘this is a safe place to learn.’”

The candidate is against high-stakes standardized testing that encourages teachers to “teach to the test,” and would prefer that schools are assessed based on data showing student success rates after they leave high school.

On issues that have dogged the school system in recent months, such as the revelation that interim superintendent Verletta White worked as a consultant for a company that promotes technology industry firms, Gresick said he is “reserving judgment.”

Two of the Catonsville resident’s children — Frankie, 8, and Gabrielle, 6 — attend Westchester Elementary School, which he said inspired him to run for office.

“The bottom line is, I want the best education for my kids,” Gresick said. “I want teachers and families leaving other counties to come to Baltimore County.”

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