Education's Been 'My Life,' Board Member Says

Newcomer Hopes Work Ethic And Experience Will Help

August 16, 2009|By Nicole Fuller | Nicole Fuller,nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

He's taught history to high-schoolers in those ubiquitous trailers called "portable classrooms." He's also worked as a substitute teacher. And he's intimately knowledgeable about education acronyms such as HSA (high school assessments) and AYP (annual yearly progress).

Andrew C. Pruski, the Baltimore County schools administrator who was sworn in Friday as the newest member of the Anne Arundel County Board of Education, thinks those experiences will be an asset to his new position as he looks to improve the county's public schools.

"Education's been my career; it's been my life," said Pruski, 30, in a recent interview. "I love it. It's so important. You can make a difference, whether you're a board member, or a parent, or a teacher, you impact children."

The Gambrills resident grew up in upstate New York and attended Niagara University, an education he helped to finance by selling real estate. (He got his real estate license when he was 18.) During a summer internship in Washington at the U.S. Department of Education 10 years ago, he discovered his passion for public education. After earning a bachelor's degree in history in 2000, he got a master's degree in education the following year.

He moved to Maryland and from August 2001 to February 2005 taught history to students at Frederick Douglass High School in Prince George's County. Pruski's wife, Roxanne Pruski, teaches history at another Prince George's high school.

He taught AP (advanced placement). She taught IB (International Baccalaureate).

"We have some great debates," he said.

Pruski was appointed to the board seat after at-large member Tricia Johnson left, and will serve the four remaining years of her term.

Pruski, who oversees a staff of six in his work as the supervisor of assessment in the department of research, accountability and assessment for public schools in Baltimore County, is responsible for oversight and management of the state's assessment program.

"Accountability is here to stay," he said. "I like transparency through all levels, whether it's budget or it's student services. If you really allow people to know what you do, what your mission is, they like that. If you're held to a standard, it's important that you reach it. If we keep raising the bar for our students, we can achieve it."

His varied work experience in the education field and his strong work ethic are qualities he said he hopes will be an asset on the board.

"I've been a teacher. I work in administration. I've dealt with a budget," Pruski said. "I think I have a great advantage."

Pruski said he's interested in trying to cure the academic slump that many middle-schoolers experience and eliminating the achievement gap between African-American students and whites.

Pruski has also been politically active, running unsuccessfully in 2006 in the Democratic primary for the County Council seat held now by Jamie Benoit.

He has participated in various civic groups, including the Greater Odenton Improvement Association and the West Arundel Lions Club.

Art Huseonica, president of the Greater Crofton Council, said Pruski isn't just a talker.

"Some people get on these groups just to have it on their resumes," Huseonica said. "They do nothing. Andrew is actively participating. He's out there."

Pruski said he hopes his work on the board will also benefit two special people in his life: his son Jacob, 2, and his daughter Clara, 9 months.

When they're old enough, they'll be attending Four Seasons Elementary near the Pruski home.

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