Letter to the Editor: Yianilos on Mothers and Teachers
Alexandria School Board candidate Chris Yianilos writes of his experiences and how his mother and teachers shaped him into who he is today.
To the editor:
This week provides two special opportunities to give thanks to those in our lives who have made a difference. In honor of National Teacher Appreciation Week and Mother's Day I wish to say two simple, yet profound words, that often go unspoken: Thank you.
I was born and raised in Northern Virginia and am proud to have been educated in public schools. My father passed away when I was 10 years old, and my mother raised three kids as a single parent. She cleaned houses for a living to make ends meet, and taught me along the way the importance of hard work.
As you might expect, I had a great deal of responsibility and freedom thrust upon me at a young age. Fortunately, I was blessed with amazing and caring teachers who educated and looked out for me. Were it not for my mother and these loving teachers, I would not have achieved any of my goals in life. I simply cannot repay all they have done for me, but I can certainly show my gratitude with words and actions.
I’ve spent my professional career working in education policy and advocacy. After earning my undergraduate degree at Virginia Tech and my law degree at Washington & Lee, I had the privilege of working for U.S. Sen. John Warner for a decade. During this time, I focused extensively on education issues. I met with teachers, superintendents and school boards throughout the state and together we increased federal investments in education.
One achievement I am particularly proud of is the Teacher Tax Relief Act. Working together in a bipartisan fashion—Democrats and Republicans—and working with teachers in Virginia, we were able to enact a federal tax law that provides our educators with an above-the-line tax deduction for the expenses they incur to benefit their students.
I am running for the City of Alexandria’s School Board because I believe that a first-rate city like ours deserves a first-rate school system. We are moving in the right direction and parents, teachers, principals, staff and others are leading the way.
While ACPS has recently been in the news for the wrong reasons when it comes to our capital improvement budget and our adult education program, we should be proud of the fact that more and more of our schools are now fully accredited and that overall reading, writing and math test scores are up at the elementary and high school levels.
Certainly, much work remains. But, this week in particular, let us show our appreciation to all of the mothers and teachers in Alexandria. I am living proof that you make a serious, positive impact in the lives of young people.
Candidate for Alexandria School Board, District B