STUDENT Spotlight
Student Spotlight – Jonathan Galla

Student Spotlight is a regularly-updated feature that highlights students involved in special Baltimore County Public Schools activities, such as camps, student councils and more. Spotlighted students receive and answer a series of questions through which they share their experiences from their respective activities. In this Student Spotlight, Jonathan Galla, a student from Hereford High School and student member of the Board of Education, discusses his past and future as related to his new leadership position for the 2013-2014 school year.

Student SpotlightQ: How did you become the 2013-2014 student member of the Baltimore County Board of Education?
A: I began the application process for the position when I was nominated by my principal and, subsequently, submitted a portfolio of recommendations, my grades and an essay – much like a college application. I was then given two interviews by a committee of administrators, teachers and students and was ultimately selected for the job. But it was my passion for expanding educational opportunities that truly led to my selection for the Board. I had a vision for our schools and I wasn't afraid to ask difficult questions to get there.

Q: What do you do as the student member of the board?
A: My job as the student member is to represent the student voice at Board meetings and make sure Board of Education policies align with the interests of BCPS students. This may seem like a boring job – most of us haven't even been to a Board meeting, let alone understand what the Board really does – but when students see the first-hand effects of board policy, they become interested.

The Board decides what classes you'll be able to take, what you get to eat for lunch, whether you'll get a new soccer field and computers next year – the possibilities are endless. And that is why there is a student on the Board of Education: to make sure students are put first when decisions are made.

Q: What challenges do you anticipate that will you face while on the board? How will you overcome them?
A: Baltimore County has one of the largest school districts in the country, and that makes the task of representing over 100,000 students an incredibly difficult job. While I may not be able to talk to every member of Team BCPS, I am reaching out to student councils across the county at Baltimore County Student Councils meetings.

I'm also planning to use social media to reach out to more students. Up until recently, BCPS has not had a social media presence, and I'm hoping to change this for the student member, as well. Soon, you'll be able to reach me to voice your concerns via Facebook and Twitter. Don't be afraid to get involved!

Q: What are your plans post-graduation?
A: I wish I could tell you! I am still undecided. College is a time for exploration, and it's never too late to find a new talent or interest. However, I definitely want to study in the humanities and I also want to pick up another language and continue learning Chinese. Student advocacy and activism are also very important to me, and I plan to continue my involvement in those activities, as well.

Q: What advice do you have for younger student-leaders?
A: Follow your passions and do things that are truly important to you. There are so many activities and opportunities that we can pursue, but choosing the ones that matter to you will lead to success. When you leave middle school, high school – wherever you are now – you want to look back and say that you learned from your experiences and grew as a person. It's not what you do but why.

Follow Jon on Twitter @BaltCoSMOB

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