By H.R. Fletcher, Jr. @FletchDC
BETHESDA, MARYLAND – Samir Paul, a computer science teacher at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, is making his first bid for public office in the state House of Delegates race in Bethesda’s District 16.
“I’ve thought about (running) for about a year or two now as I’ve gotten more involved as a teacher activist, working with MCEA (Montgomery County Educational Association), organizing teachers in the county, working with the Montgomery County Young Democrats, and I’ve been doing activist work for a while and I have a lot of experience there,” said Paul, who is running as a Democrat. “I didn’t expect (Delegate) Bill Frick’s seat to open up as soon as it did. So, it seemed like a good time to jump in, especially with the really significant changes that are coming in public education.”
Frick is vacating his seat to run for Montgomery County Executive.
Attorney Sara Love and civic activist Jordan Cooper—who also ran in 2014—are also running Frick’s seat.
Paul attended Wayside Elementary School and Hoover Middle School in Potomac and graduated from Montgomery Blair High School in 2006. He went on to earn a degree in computer science from Harvard University in 2010.
After Harvard, Paul returned to the area to work as a math and computer science teacher at Bell Multicultural High School (BMHS) in Washington, D.C. While at BMHS, he earned a Master’s degree in teaching from American University. One year out of college, he led the development of the only advanced placement computer science class in District public schools.
“With the Kirwan Commission wrapping up in Annapolis in 2018, it’s going to trigger about two or three years of just massive, massive decisions about public schools,” said Paul. “There are going to be conversations around universal (preschool), around changing the way career and technical education runs, about changing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and computer science offerings, around changing the way the teaching profession is structured, and a host of other things.
“It is really valuable when those conversations are happening to have a person in the room who not only understands the importance of investment in public schools, but also someone who knows what it looks like when those programs succeed. Someone who knows what it takes to make them successful.”
During the 2012 Presidential campaign, Samir served as an organizer in the politically important state of Wisconsin, organizing and mobilizing local volunteer groups to get out the vote as part of President Obama’s decisive victory in the state.
After the presidential race, Paul worked with IBM to improve the USPS’s on-time package delivery. In 2015 he returned Blair High School as a teacher. He was recently named 2016 “Rising Star Teacher of the Year” by the Marian Greenblatt Education Fund and was identified by the National Education Association on its “30 Under 30” list in 2017.
Education, especially public education, is very important to Paul. As a Maryland state delegate, he can use his experience and expertise to help shape policy that will benefit the residents of the state, said Paul.
“The last time the state did this type of public education review was 2002, that was 15 years ago,” said Paul. “So, this truly is a once-in-a-generation moment to do something historic that is really worthwhile.”