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Carol Mueller appointed to Harford County School Board after death of sitting member

Retired Harford Community College teacher Carol Mueller was appointed to the Harford County School Board Tuesday night.

Passed 5-2 in the affirmative, Mueller was appointed to the elected seat vacated by the death of the previous representative for the county’s district C, Kathryn “Kathy” Carmello.

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Councilman Curtis Beulah said the race was close.

“We worked together to find a worthy candidate for the replacement on the school board, and I can say we had three well-qualified candidates and the voting and scoring was very close,” he said. “All of you are winners.”

Mueller taught math and Earth science at the college for 10 years prior to her appointment to the board, and was a teacher at a number of public and private schools in Harford County before that.. She retired from the college Jan. 1.

Her interest in being a member actually dates back about two decades, when she first moved to Harford County and was working at Bel Air Middle School. It was a former student of Mueller’s — Republican Central Committee member Patrick Haggerty Jr. — who reached out to her about the vacancy.

She’d always wanted to be a teacher, Mueller said, but her professional career began later in life. Mueller got her associate’s degree right after high school, then got married and had kids. It wasn’t until she was in her 30s that she went back to college.

“I went straight through with my bachelor’s, my master’s and my PhD, so I graduated when I was 44 with my PhD,” she said in a phone interview Thursday.

In the meantime, Mueller served as a Girl Scout leader and a Sunday school teacher. “I was always teaching, always working with kids, that’s my passion in life," she said.

That passion, she said, is what she thinks made her stand out among the candidates to fill the vacant seat on the board.

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“I just have a real passion for students and students getting the help they need to be successful ... just a real caring about the quality and access of education to the students here of Harford County,” she said.

One nay vote came from councilman Robert Wagner. He said that all the candidates were a good fit for the job, but he thought one of the others was more in line with what he was looking for. Still, he said he was confident Mueller was capable and would do well in the position.

“She will fit in and move ahead,” Wagner said after the meeting. “Everybody is going to have their own opinion.”

Recognizing there is a learning curve to the job, Mueller said she’s kept up on the issues facing HCPS, diligently watching the live streams and archived video of the Board of Education meetings.

“I always had the advantage of being able to fast forward through the boring parts; I’m not going to be able to do that anymore,” Mueller joked.

Mueller is expected to be sworn in at the beginning of the next school board meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24, said Jillian Lader, a spokesperson for the school system.

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School board President Jansen Robinson said Thursday he hadn’t met Mueller, but had spoken to her on the phone and researched her on social media.

“She seems like she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience,” Robinson said.

He thought Mueller’s experience working in the math department at HCC may give her some unique insight into some of the shortcomings of HCPS’s math program. Some graduates, he said, have to take remedial math courses at the college level.

“She hopefully can help us understand what our kids don’t have going into post-secondary education,” Robinson said. “She will bring a different perspective.”

The others candidates were: Jim Antal, Donald Hoopes, Joan Michel and Laura Perrault.

Carmello died as a result of complications during heart surgery in December. Her death left the county council in the unanticipated situation of appointing a person to an elected position.

Aegis Editor S. Wayne Carter Jr. contributed to this article.

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