Tanya Washington might have been a research scientist. By the sound of her voice when she speaks about tinkering with electronics, or the pleasure of solving a math problem, she likely would have been a successful one.
But you won’t find Washington in a lab; instead, the Bowie resident is at Parkdale High School in Riverdale Park, where she is the newly appointed acting principal.
Washington was on track to a career in science, earning her degree in biology (with a minor in chemistry) from the University of the District of Columbia, when she tagged along with a friend who was interning at a local high school.
“I thought I’d go into research,” Washington told Patch, “But I enjoyed sharing knowledge … I said, ‘You know what? I think I’m going to give teaching a try.’”
She has taught science, technology and genetics, as well as served seven years as an assistant principal in the Prince George’s County School System.
What’s your background?
"I was raised in Washington, D.C. After graduating, I moved to Prince George’s County, to Upper Marlboro, and I have been in the Upper Marlboro/Bowie area for about 25 years.
"I went to school in DC, Anacostia High School. For undergrad, I went to the University if the District of Columbia, where I got a degree in biology with a minor in chemistry. I went to George Washington University where I received a master’s degree in education leadership and supervision."
What do you think is unique about Parkdale High School?
“We embody the world in which we live in. Our world changes so very quickly in terms of demographics -- Parkdale embodies that. Our kids will be able to go into any environment and be able to adapt and survive.”
What are you looking forward to in your new role at Parkdale High School?
“It has a lot to offer. The school system, as well as the community, embodies the diversity of the world in which we live in. One thing I want to be able to focus on is I want the kids to be proud that they are representative of what our world looks like today.
"I want them to know … the community that they live in gives them an edge in being successful in the world. We service a lot of bilingual students. They have to know that attribute puts them ahead of many students. My focus is going to be getting parents involved w the learning process. We can’t do this by ourselves. We need parents and the community to engage in meaningful ways.”
What challenges do you anticipate?
“I want to make sure attendance is very, very important … Making sure kids come to school and they come to school on time and that they’re prepared.
“Working with such a diverse population - I don’t speak another language - but we have various resources that will assist me to communicate meaningfully.”
What was your favorite class in high school?
“Math and science. I think I liked math and science because I like to problem-solve. I like to figure things out. And I like fixing things. As a child I would always fix the radio, try to see how things operate.
I have the same passion for children. I want to see where I need to improve.”
You can meet Tanya Washington this Thurs., August 29 at a meet and greet from 6:30-8 p.m. or at Back-to-School Night on September 9 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Parkdale High School.