So Who is Symone Walker?
I’m an immigrant from Jamaica who came to Northern VA nearly 33 years ago at 16. I started my education at NOVA community college, then transferred to George Mason and graduated with a BA in Psychology. I then pursued my paralegal certificate at Georgetown and worked for a government contractor for four years before going to law school. I received my Juris Doctorate from American University Washington College of Law in 1998, and my LL.M. in Litigation & Dispute Resolution from George Washington University in 2001. I worked as a DOJ attorney for 20 yrs and also as a DOJ mediator for 14 years. My family has deep roots in Arlington. We have owned and operated AA Locksmith Service for 40 years. We opened in 1980 in what used to be Adams Square Mall on the Pike, but due to the development of Penrose Square, we relocated to 10th St. in Clarendon. My younger siblings attended Swanson and Williamsburg, and both graduated from Yorktown. But, most importantly, I am the Mom of two middle-schoolers at Gunston who are the center of my world.
Why Am I running for School Board?
Because while we are a good school district, we can be so much better.
I envision an equitable APS where no students languish behind their peers; where every decision is made through an equity lens--meaning, who needs more, gets more; where burdens are considered, not just benefits; and where no voices are missing from the conversation.
I envision a mindful APS that is trauma-informed; where administrators, teachers, staff, SROs, and even parents, are prepared to recognize and respond to those who have been impacted by traumatic stress; where mental health is prioritized and seamlessly integrated into every school because we maintain the recommended ratios of counselors, social workers, and psychologists; and where we know that this is how to prevent school shootings.
I envision a conscious APS which boldly addresses systemic biases because it has courageously faced the truth of the past and reconciled its segregationist history. Only then can we begin to address our implicit biases and learn to work through difficult conversations with each other.
I envision a depressurized APS where our students aren't overburdened with unnecessary testing; where no opportunity gaps exist; where achievement is not based on zip code; where our graduates are truly career or college ready; where they know how to think critically and analytically; where they know how to research and write a stellar position paper; where they are well versed in rhetoric and can debate all sides of an issue with ease; where they value collaboration over competition; where they have a solid command of civics, a real understanding of our civil rights history; and where technology is a tool and not a teacher.
I envision an inclusive APS where learning disabilities and giftedness are identified and addressed early; where learning differences, neurodiversity, and all disabilities are valued and celebrated for their unique strengths; where we embrace the science of reading; where parents don’t have to fight for services or pay exorbitant sums for private remedies or for enrichment; where a private school is truly an option, not a necessity; and where the quality of our curriculum is prioritized above everything else.
I envision a diverse APS that is representative of the student body, with well-trained, well-compensated teachers who are not overburdened but are supported and supportive as partners in their students’ education.
And I envision a fiscally responsible APS that can curtail wasteful spending and operate under fiscal constraints without compromising our students’ education or our teachers’ compensation.
I believe all of this doable. The school board has a fiduciary responsibility to deliver no less than excellence and educational parity to every student. Arlington certainly has the means to do it.
And I am running for the school board to raise that bar.
Symone announcing her candidacy to the Arlington Democratic Committee. 1/8/2010