PA-PAC Questionnaire for Durham Public School
Board of Education 2014
Candidate Name: _______Deborah Bryson_________________________________
Address: _____2 Coolidge Place Durham, NC 27705__________________________
1. Why do you want to serve on the Durham Public School Board of Education? What is the
role of a board member?
Being a member of the school board is one of the most important decisions that a person
can make because it impacts the future of children, families, and the community. Children
are precious gifts from God, and we love them. Let us remind ourselves that it takes a
whole village to raise a child to compassion, competence, and character. My reason for
running for school board is for the past 28 years I have served children from every social
economic status, diverse races and cultures from across the world; all to find that their
parents want the best for their children. In a shared vision with me, the school board,
superintendent, principals, teachers, and parents I will be dedicated to seeing that all
children are successful in completing their education through high school; as well as
opportunities for college completion.
One of the roles of the board member’s is to have a shared vision for the community’s
school that reflects a consensus of the board and the Durham community. The school
board members should always maintain strong ethical standards. The ultimate focus of the
board member is always the children. School e board members have a wide variety of
responsibilities, such as the school calendar, negotiating contracts with the employees’
unions, approving curriculum materials and closing or constructing schools. They also have
a collaborative effort in adopting annual budget, adopt and maintaining current policies in
written format, ratify collective bargaining agreements, and hire/evaluate the
superintendent. They help to foster a healthy environment for work and learning.
2. The board will be involved in the hiring of a new superintendent. What should the search
process look like? What qualities should the successful candidate possess?
The search process of a successful superintendent should serve as the professional executive
of the board. The superintendent should be willing to solicit, give attention to, and make
response to problems and opinions of community groups and individuals. The search process
would involve the following:
• Development of criteria for selection
• Formal advertising and informal cost acts to produce a list of applicants
• Review applications and selection of candidates
• Screening criteria
• Interview process
• Selection of top candidates
• Negotiation of terms of employment and development of contact
• Final selection and introduction to the community
The qualities of a successful candidate would possess the leadership skills required to
respond to the challenges presented by an ethnically and culturally diverse community. The
candidate would have the ability to develop and maintain a mutually beneficial relationship
between the business community and the school district. Also, he/she should have knowledge
of emerging research and best practice in the area of curriculum/ instructional design .The
candidate should have strong skills in the area of communication, listening, speaking, and
writing. One that possesses excellent people skills presents a positive image of the Durham
community. The candidate should be willing to listen to input and make a decision when
3. How should teachers and administrators be evaluated? Are the current state standards
They should be evaluated fair and equable evaluation tool. The new evaluation tool for
teachers and administrator eliminates tenure for all certified personnel after 2018.Any certified
license personnel can no longer get paid for their advanced degree after last summer 2013.
Although the Common Core is a new assessment tool- it measures proficiency based on
objectives that students are to learn. I think it is better than the old EOC Test. There are three
state levels Common Core test: English10, Algebra I and Biology. The common core test
requires that teachers teach across the curriculum- an example all teachers are to teacher and
relate their curriculum to each subject area English teachers curriculum must include some
component of math, science, social studies, and etc. Teachers use the Common Core
objectives to measure progress or lack of. They then teach the students the objectives that they
have not leaned.
4. How should students be assessed? What role should standardized tests play in evaluating
The curriculum should be aligned with the state accountability assessment. The purpose is
to show that when students are given effective instruction they are prepared to achieve at
and beyond their current grade level. This accountability allows charter schools to receive
state funds for the students enrolled in their schools. The funding is based on how students
perform and the total number of students that are meeting state requirements.
The standardized test should not be the only test gauging students’ performance. There
should be assessment that monitor student growth and are aligned with the national
standard of what a student should be able to do a specific grade levels. There should be at
least two benchmark test given to student before the state assessment. This way teacher
are not surprise on how students have processed the information that has been taught and
what is their level of understanding. There should sign of progression from assessment to
5. In spite of the introduction of magnet schools, it appears that Durham Public Schools have
become increasingly segregated by socioeconomic status and race. What are your
thoughts on this situation?
It will take more than magnet schools to slow down the pace of public school re-
segregation. In fact some would argue that the magnet school concept promotes
segregation among campuses with selected students enrolled in academically competitive
classes. Unless a reasonable cross-section of the student population is enrolled in college
preparation classes, the desegregation mission is not met. Of course, socioeconomic
status, race, parents education, and, overall, mastery of the basics factor into enrollment in
competitive classes will help the ultimate school success.
6. Does DPS need to make changes to its school suspension policy? If so, what changes
would you work for as a Board Member?
There should be a few changes that would help with improving the suspension policy in
DPS.The DPS school suspension policy would be for students with repeated suspension
receiving an evaluation by a psychologist or clinical social worker. After meeting with the
specialists the students would attend classes that cover: anger management, time
management, tutoring, and any subjects that the students are having difficulty handling
academic or social.
Suspensions should be in school so the students can continue to keep up with their studies
and receive tutoring if needed.
Some ways to eliminate suspension is by using proven alternatives, used by the San
Francisco Unified School district. Restorative practices help students accept responsibility,
repair harm and contribute as a positive member of the school community. Positive
behavioral supports and trauma-sensitive practices give teachers the tools to set clear
behavioral expectations and address the needs of their most challenging students. These
interventions don't just reduce suspensions; they also lead to more supportive, caring
7. What is your opinion about the Charter School movement?
My perspective is not that I am against charter schools but if their funding is going to follow
the child, then they should have transportation, school lunches and the racial composition
should be divided equably. Charter schools are public schools; there is currently ten charter
school in Durham County, with the 11th
opening in August. The racial composition shows
that out of all ten charter schools, there is segregation taking place currently. In 1954, the
United States Supreme Court declared that segregation among schools was illegal and
against the very principles on which this country was founded. It is 2005 and the nation’s
schools are still, even after 60 years, segregated by race. In the 70s and 80s there were
many attempts to desegregate schools but all of them failed. The desegregation movement
lost most of its momentum in the 90s. Not to mislead anyone, it is against the law for a
school to refuse a student solely based on race. Our schools are not solely segregated
based on race neither, it just so happens that most of the schools that serve impoverished
neighborhoods happen to have mostly minority students due to the fact that minorities
make up the majority of the poor people in our country.
The Charter school movement gives parents choices about the education of their children
and where they want their tax dollars spent. A charter school can offer educational course
that are aligned with international program, students are given more choices beyond the
basic reading, math, social studies, and science
8. What is your opinion about school vouchers?
The top problems plaguing public school systems are the lack of parent involvement and
poverty. There are many situations and dynamics that can cause these problems. North
Carolina is now on the path of correction with the school choice voucher program. The
school choice voucher program provides state-funded scholarships that pay for students to
attend private school rather than public school. These private schools must meet minimum
standards set by law-makers in order to accept voucher recipients. Legislatures also set
parameters for student eligibility that on average target subgroups of students. These can
be low-income students that meet a specified income threshold, students attending
chronically low performing schools, students with disabilities, or students in military families
or foster care.
One can clearly see how parent involvement and poverty can be addressed by using the
school choice voucher program. The process is initiated by a concerned parent(s). These
parents typically are those who cannot afford such an education without assistance or live
in a poor performing school district. The public school system will also be positively
affected. How? The ratio of staff to students will begin to decline as more parents take
advantage of different option. Therefore classroom sizes will become smaller and the
quality of education will increase. The social impact the school choice program can have is
grand, it will tear down many walls and give every child a chance at success.
9. As a board member how would you lead the decisions addressing the needs of the
students who are at risk for low achievement and dropping out?
First addressing the issue means that we must acknowledge that to close the achievement
gap attention and action must be at every level of the education system. To ensure that
individuals who are at risk for low achievement and dropping out receive the support and
instruction needed teachers, staff and administrators need to be qualified. The educators
not only need to be highly qualified but trained and effectively meeting the cultural, social
and academic needs of these students. It is imperative that the school district provide more
early learning opportunities and support for these individuals and communities. By early
identification of need and support the public school sector will be able to provide a more
solid foundation to prepare these individuals for success in school. Based on statistics
males, particular African American males are more likely to be classified as at-risk for
dropping out as females. Early identification will also provide DPS the opportunity to put in
place individuals (e.g. mentors) to build a rapport and guide, support and mentor these
individuals identified as at-risk for low achievement and dropping out.
10. Why do you think that parents choose to take their children out of the public schools in
Durham or don’t choose them at all? How would you address this issue?
Parents are not happy with Durham Public School System due to the lack of resources provided
to parents. They also do not feel that have enough security and safety for their children. For
example, there were a few school shootings last school year at Hillside High School. Children
cannot learn in an environment where they are in fear of their life. Others do not choose public
schools for religious reasons. They want their children to be surrounded by what they believe
and by the same morals instilled at home as well as school.
11. If you could do three things to improve Durham Public Schools, what would they be?
The public education system is designed to provide all students with a high quality
education and opportunities to succeed. According to this philosophy DPS has a great deal
to be proud of but improvement can be made. Three things that would improve DPS are
employing more highly qualified educators to support staff-student ratios, revisit how funds
are spent and increase parent/community involvement. Durham Public Schools should
employ more highly qualified individuals to teach our youth. By increasing the number of
qualified individuals DPS can address the staffing ratios. DPS should review how many
students per teacher are within each school. In doing this, DPS will be able to reallocate (if
necessary) staff according to the enrollment at the schools. Having appropriate teacher-
student ration and highly qualified individuals students despite school (city vs. county) have
the opportunity to receive instruction form the best in a smaller less intimidating setting.
Paying close attention and monitoring how funds are spent is very important to
improving the education system. Funds should be spent on reducing class sizes, providing
extra assistance to students who need it and enriching the curriculum. If a school has low
test scores, funds should be provided to develop a team to go in and identify what needs to
improve. Upon assessment if the team identifies areas of improvement such as: tutors,
more assistance for students with disabilities or more support for at-risk youth funds can be
One of the best ways to improve DPS would be to alleviate factors beyond a teacher’s
control that may affect student learning by developing a stronger, positive partnership with
parents and the community. In order to successfully support teaching and learning it is a
requirement that a student’s social service needs are addressed as well as academic
needs. DPS needs to be more aware of the needs of its students, families and the
communities in which the students live in. Programs and opportunities for support should
be offered at the first sign of struggle not when it is too late and the students is failing or
dropping out. Also, DPS should ensure that information provided to parents is
comprehensive compared to not comprehensible because of educational jargon.
12. Please describe your educational background, noting any degrees and honors you have
earned. (skip if resume included) Resume Enclosed
13. Do you have children? Where do they or did they attend school?
All of my children are grown. I have 5 grandchildren in Public Schools
4 girls and one boy.
14. Please describe your adult employment history (skip if resume included)
Bryson Christian Montessori School, INC
Durham, NC 27705
Head of Schools
Since 1986, Deborah Bryson has served as the Head of
Schools for Bryson Christian Montessori Schools. Deborah
serves as a centralizing leadership figure within the school
and the local community of Durham. As the Head of
Schools, she works closely with, and reports directly to
parents and teachers, and an Advisory Parent Board of
Directors. She tends to issues that concern the school as a
whole and has built consensus among the teachers, staff,
families and Parent Boards. As the Head of School, Deborah
knows the larger vision for the future direction of the school
all while continuing to support and encourage the
preservation of the Montessori philosophy through the
1986-Present - Founder/ Head of Bryson Christian
Montessori School Inc.
In 1986, Bryson Christian Montessori School became one of
the first African American Montessori Schools in North
Starting with just one at the time and has since acquired
three additional schools. The Bryson Schools are a multi-
cultural international Christian Montessori School and the
only one of their caliber in North Carolina. Bryson Schools
have a North Carolina State Pre-Kindergarten Program
under the Local Leadership of the Durham Partnership for
children, and in 2010 Bryson School became one of three
Federal Early Head Start Programs in Durham. Bryson
Schools continue to provide professional teacher leadership
and management and are known for promoting secure
foundations, achieving high standards in all areas of school
work. BCMS has successfully established a high quality
education by effectively managing teaching, learning and
using personalized and individualized learning strategies to
realize the potential of all children. Bryson Schools have
served as a liaison between teachers and parents.
Star Child Production School of Performing Arts
Founder & Executive Director of Star Child Productions
School of Performance Arts, Inc. Greensboro NC.
Deborah has appeared in the Black Arts Festival with
World renowned Arthur Hall Afro-American Dance
Ensemble and the Sam-Art Williams production of Home.
In 1981, Deborah produced an outdoor drama; A Man
Named Moses, the first African American outdoor drama
SCHOOL FACILITIES, EQUIPMENT, DAILY
• Oversees daily operations of school, ensuring a safe
and friendly environment.
• Attends to tasks and responsibilities associated with
successful operation of school (e.g. communication,
security, maintenance) in an as-needed and
sometimes hands-on capacity.
• Supervises maintenance of all school equipment.
• Supervises the maintenance of Bryson Christian
Montessori as an aesthetically attractive and safe
environment, in cooperation with the maintenance
• Maintains all lease and mortgage arrangements.
• Advises Board on facilities and equipment
• Remains informed of trends, research and legislation
that may affect BCM S management, operation and
• Advises staff when policy changes or action may be
• Maintains a comprehensive set of records on
students, staff and prospective students
Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama degree in
NC Center for Montessori Teacher Education/
Montessori Certified Teacher
UNC- Chapel Hill: Education Coursework
UNC-Greensboro: School of Business
Leadership Boards: Current
• Chairwoman for the Mount Zion Christian Academy
• Chairwoman for the Education Committee for Durham
Committee on the Affairs of Black People.
• St. Joseph‘s Historic Foundation, Inc. Board of
• Religious Coalition for a Non-Violent Durham Board of
• Durham Public School’s Budget Committee
• NC Pre-K/School Readiness Committee in Durham
• North Carolina Day Care Association Board
• Durham Day Care Quality Improvement and
Incentives Project (QUIP), and chairs the POD of
• Chairman of the Board of Directors for United For
Christ Academy Day School
• Board Member for Greenway at American Village
Architectural Review Board
• Leader of Christian Career Business Women of America