Occoquan Schools Nominee a College Advocate
By URIAH KISER
OCCOQUAN, Va. – A retired educator and administrator with 35 years experience at Prince William County Public Schools will make a run for the School Board.
Lillie Jessie, of Lake Ridge, will run as a Democrat to represent the School Board’s Occoquan District — one of eight seats on the countywide Board. She will face Michael E. Wooten, who was appointed to the Board this spring following the sudden resignation of Grant Lattin in May.
Working now as an educational consultant and small business owner, Jessie retired from Prince William schools as Principal of Elizabeth Vaughn Elementary School in Woodbridge. During her tenure with the school system, she focused her work on the U.S. Department of Education’s Title I program that works to ensure fair access to higher education.
“Middle-class kids, my kids, I know are going to go to college. But some children don’t have that chance,” said Jessie.
Candidate Jessie appeared publicly for the first time Sunday night at Occoquan Town Hall. There she noted Prince William’s public schools as some as the best in the nation.
If elected in November, she said she’d do more to educate parents on the inner workings of schools, show them what educational options are available to their children.
She also said students need fewer multiple choice test and more exams that require critical thinking.
“I’m sticking with Prince William County School’s ‘World Class’ motto, and if our schools are world class you’ve got to make them teach students to be competitive in a world market,” said Jessie.
A product of a segregated school system in Newberry, S.C., Jessie was the first in her family, and was one of only a handful in her graduating class to go to college, she said. She credits the encouragement of a teacher, and his help filling out college applications, as the reason she continued her education beyond high school.
Jessie also has ties to Virginia Tech, and she developed a program called “Kindergarten to College” where fifth grade students at Vaughn Elementary School traveled to the Blacksburg school annually.
Wooten, her opponent, served as Marine Corps officer, holds a Doctorate of Higher Education Management, and serves as Vice Chairman of the Board at Northern Virginia Community College.
Jessie said her experience will make all the difference in this race.
“[Wooten] has a degree in education. I have a background in education, and my experience is documented,” she said.