Q&A: Iyamide House, School Board District 5 candidate, is a mental health expert, active PGCPS parent who has counseled DC youth


Photo courtesy of Iyamide House

Iyamide House

Residency: Bowie, Maryland

Occupation: Owner and Licensed Mental Health Clinician

Briefly state your political experience, leadership or community service

I am currently the owner of Sabanoh Mental Health. Professionally, I have been called on as a mental health expert presenting at conferences, events, and podcasts. I previously served as a school counselor in D.C. in some of the most difficult educational settings.

I have been a service leader within my community for over the past decade, holding leadership positions in chapters of the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority. I also have volunteered within the Bowie community with organizations like the Bowie Boys and Girls Club, various PTAs and Girl Scouts.

Briefly state why you decided to run for school board:

Gun scare was a call to action: On June 7, 2023, the city of Bowie was holding its breath. An individual with a gun was spotted outside of Bowie High School. All of the surrounding schools in the area were locked down. My three children were locked safely inside their school building, but my worst nightmare became a reality for my friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens. That event became my call to action to make sure our schools are safe, our schools prioritize children, and we do what's best for families. (Editor's note: The June 2023 gun incident near Bowie High was resolved peacefully, Bowie police said in a press release at the time.)

Committed to making schools safe: This experience ignited a passion within me to advocate for policies that prioritize the safety and well-being of our students and educators. As a candidate for the school board, I am committed to working tirelessly to implement measures that not only enhance security protocols but also foster a nurturing environment where every child can thrive. I want to ensure that our schools remain places of safety, learning, and opportunity for all families in our community.

What are the top two issues facing schools in the Bowie area, and what could you as a school board member do to address those issues if elected?

School safety and mental health: My top two priorities are school safety and increasing mental health resources in schools. As a previous school counselor and implementer of school wrap-around services (in some of the most difficult educational settings in Washington DC), I know what works to change school behaviors and in turn, improve school safety. 

Fund behavior intervention training: I believe in having a strong PBIS curriculum training for our educators, an approach known as positive behavior intervention and supports. I will support this initiative in our budget and in every school building to help manage behaviors while teaching children school-wide expectations. We need to ensure schools have the capacity to implement consistent social-emotional learning at all ages, especially in the post-COVID environment. 

Increase counselors, social workers: We need to increase the number of school counselors and social workers working in the building to increase mental health supports. These efforts will ultimately make schools safer. 

Prioritize renovations: However, we also have to make sure that our school facilities are physically safe and we prioritize renovations to each building that will ensure that.

Are you concerned about student mental health across the county? If so, how could the school board help address this issue 

Students feeling unsafe: When I talk to older students, many of them point to safety as their top concern. The current climate of our society is that schools have school shooting drills, along with fire drills. Even though we must have those drills, there is something inherently traumatic about knowing that our schools are targets.

Social impact of pandemic: Student mental health is one of my priorities, and one factor that has affected our students' mental health is the effects of COVID. We are still bouncing back from the social impact that the pandemic had on our children and families.

Utilize funds outlined in Blueprint: As we press ahead the Board of Education in Prince George’s County will have to be intentional and responsive to the behavioral trends that we see in our schools and use the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (specifically Pillar 4: More resources for all students to be successful). The board must ensure that we utilize funds like those outlined in the blueprint to address mental health in a way that directly impacts our students.

Are you aware of specific needs at Bowie High School and Bowie area middle and elementary schools? How would you advocate for additional resources specifically at Bowie area schools?

Students' top concerns: Safety has been their number one concern in talking to high school students. 

Parents' top concerns: Many families in Bowie are upset with our outdated school facilities, and the rigor of academics.

Educators' concerns: In talking to educators, many of them have identified the mental health needs of students as a main concern, citing behaviors they have never encountered before. My platform directly addresses these concerns. 

Ensure adequate funding: I want to make sure the District 5 schools are receiving adequate funding to make sure facilities are safe and secure, schools have the necessary mental health resources available to address needs and behaviors, and academic supports are in place to increase student achievement.

Do you believe the board of education needs further reforms? Please explain why or why not?

The new board will include only elected officials. And while currently some reforms may be needed, I believe there will be a significant shift when all board members have constituents to answer to.

How often do you plan to be a presence in the Bowie area if elected? Do you have a plan for outreach to your constituents?

I am a parent of three students in PGCPS and an active member of the community. I visit a PGCPS school every day and I am committed to being a strong advocate for the community. To achieve this, I will actively participate with the community and work to bring constituents together to support our District 5 schools and students. I aim to be an accessible and responsive board member, focused on finding solutions to the challenges that we face.

The Q&A responses have been edited lightly for style and formatting without changing the meaning or context. All District 5 school board candidates were contacted by email and phone asking them to complete the Q&A by April 30; two provided their responses as of that date.

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