SMOB position provides opportunity, voice for students


Photo by Ethan Schwager

Nate Tinbite gives a presentation on his campaign trail at WJ. As the next SMOB, Tinbite will get the chance to be the student voice as he pushes for policies that empower students around the county.

The position of SMOB, for many MCPS students, may seem irrelevant. In middle school it was not uncommon to elect the next Student Member of the Board based on name, school visits or polished stickers. There are even today, high schoolers who are unfamiliar with what the SMOB does and why it matters. Unlike other counties around the county, MCPS not only gives students the chance to make a difference by running, but students are given a voice with the ability to vote and elect their SMOB. These are things that should not be taken for granted and instead embraced.

Throughout the election process, we see the various campaign propaganda. It clouds our school walls, our social media pages and our conversations. To many, these may seem like unknown students with similar agendas looking for votes. In reality, however, these are students willing to make a difference with action plans to bring about change.

In this year’s SMOB election, candidates made trips to various schools around the county, reached out to many students and put their lives on hold to make a difference. Runner-up Zoe Tishaev visited a whopping 65 schools on her campaign trail and SMOB-elect Nate Tinbite made the time to reach out to students across his social media platforms during the election process. Not only did candidates work hard along the campaign trail, but they also brought to light many issues affecting our county that desperately need to be addressed. By advocating for these issues, students were able see the need for change.

The main problems that were addressed by the candidates dealt with bringing back driver’s education programs, faster/unblocked wifi, expanding resources for mental health, enriching  lunch options, fixing the infrastructure of run-down schools and giving students a voice. With a spot on the Board of Education, the Student Member of the Board has the chance to fight for these issues and speak on behalf of the students. The position of SMOB is of great importance for giving the student body a say not only on how our school system should be run, but also what important problems should be solved and how to do so.

At the nominating convention, 13 SMOB candidates spoke on their views, policies and ideas in hopes of appealing to the many present voters. It was through attending this convention that students could get a more personal feel for the candidates and understand the urgency of the issues facing our county. Students from across the county were in attendance, including many involved in SGA. By attending, students were able to vote for the candidates who would move on. After the convention was completed, the field had been narrowed down to the final two candidates: Nate Tinbite and Zoe Tishaev.

During the final stretch of the election, the two candidates were showcased through school posters and the “Meet the Candidates” video played to students across the county. Through these promotions, students were given the chance to formulate opinions and decide which candidate they preferred. Not only are we fortunate enough to have elections like this in our county, but by marketing the candidates and publicizing their platforms, the county not only helps educate students but shows their support for the position and the right that students have to choose their SMOB.

After voting took place on April 24, Nate Tinbite won the majority of the vote and was thus elected the 42nd SMOB. Throughout his campaign, Tinbite made it clear that as a student from downcounty, he understands the importance of being heard and plans to ensure that all students have a say on policies. From being President of the Montgomery County Regional Student Government Association to working with former Student Members of the Board as well as helping establish Moco Students for Gun Control (a student-led, gun-control advocacy organization) Tinbite certainly has the experience and know-how take on the position of SMOB. There is no doubt that Tinbite will continue to create change and serve our county well. The student body has good reason to be excited for what’s to come.

The position of SMOB is more important than most students realize, and having a county that supports the position and allows students to maintain a spot on the Board of Education is a privilege. By getting involved in the election process, whether running or voting, students have the opportunity to create real change and strive for a better MCPS system.