Maryland State Board of Education member Michele Jenkins Guyton read her resignation letter at the end of a marathon meeting on Tuesday. She read, she said, because speaking from the heart might have made her too emotional.
Her resignation is officially dated Jan. 1, but Guyton has already moved into her new role as an incoming delegate representing Baltimore County’s District 42B in the General Assembly. Guyton (D) was in Annapolis at the end of this week for freshman orientation.
On Tuesday, she said the work she and board members had done on school safety had been a highlight not only of her time on the board, but also of any work that she’s ever done.
“As gratifying as it has been to work on exceptional policy, which I think that we have done, my greatest joy has always been through directly impacting our students, our teachers and our communities,” Guyton said. “And it was for that reason that I ran and was elected to represent Baltimore County in the General Assembly.”
Guyton told her fellow board members that she hopes they will see her “as a friend in Annapolis.”
“I am certain that my experiences here have prepared me to work more effectively for our schools in Annapolis and my door will always be open to any of you,” Guyton said. “I will enthusiastically embrace any opportunity to work with MSDE, the state board, or the governor’s office to promote education in Maryland and to fulfill the promise of the upcoming Kirwan Commission recommendations.”
Board member Stephanie R. Iszard told Guyton she’d never forget how they embarked on their journey to the board together “giggling through the capital” as they cornered legislators in the hallway to get them to confirm them. “We did. We prevented people from going to the bathroom, so I’m sure some senators and delegates remember us,” Iszard said.
Board Chairman Justin M. Hartings commended Guyton for taking the leap into elected office.
“I just want to say how much I admire your courage. You’re walking into an enormous stage,” Hartings said. “What’s harder than even running is winning. It says a lot about your and your community that they have the confidence in you to change directions and follow your direction.”
State Superintendent of Schools Karen B. Salmon said without Guyton’s support she wouldn’t be sitting in her role today. Salmon thanked Guyton “from the bottom of my heart.”
“And I know where your office will be, and I will see you in Annapolis in a very short amount of time,” Salmon said.
Guyton, a developmental psychologist and disabilities advocate, was appointed to the state school board by Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) in 2015.