School Board Clerks Garza and Hawkins Bring Experience, Dedication, and Perspective to MCPS

February is School Board Appreciation month, a time to honor the hard work that each and every member puts in. The third week of February, specifically, is designated as School Board Clerk Appreciation Week. The School Board Clerks’ roles range from maintaining School Board meetings to helping manage budgets and ensuring teachers are paid on time. Their days are long and packed with numerous necessary tasks that help keep the School Board in order. The dedicated individuals who have been selected for these positions are Mrs. Alba Garza and Mr. Andy Hawkins. 

Before becoming Manassas City’s very own School Board Clerks, Mrs. Garza and Mr. Hawkins were once high schoolers, just like us, participating in extracurricular activities and clubs.

“I was in a couple of clubs in high school, I graduated from Stonewall High School [Unity Reed today] but I came here from El Salvador when I was 11 so I was active in the Hispanic club,” said Clerk of the School Board, Mrs. Garza.

“I grew up in a small town on the North Carolina-Virginia border. I went to a small high school and did football, baseball, FBLA, and BETTA club,” explained Deputy Clerk of the School Board, Mr. Hawkins.

Although both have positive memories of their high school days both agree that life for high schoolers today is more complicated.

“The world has really changed a lot. We never had to think about social media and having our phone. We didn’t have a lot of the social pressures that students have now,” said Mr. Hawkins. “Though technology has made everything easier from small tasks to physical labor we’ve really benefitted so much. But we have also lost a lot of amazing things,” he added. 

Many people may assume, when it comes to being School Board members, that their passion for education and giving back to their community would have always been present, but in many cases, it developed over time. 

“I never dreamed of working in schools or education. I wanted to be a public accountant. I didn’t keep tabs on the School Board, but a friend recommended me because of my background in accounting. I have been involved with public education ever since,” explained Mr. Hawkins. 

“There’s something about education that just sucks you in,” added Mrs. Garza.

Mr. Hawkins and Mrs. Garza both play important roles in the School Board structure. Despite the fact that they both fall into the “Clerk” category, their roles as clerks differ. Mr. Hawkins’ position is Deputy Clerk of the School Board, while Mrs. Garza’s is the Clerk of the School Board. They may not seem that different, but in reality, both of these positions hold very distinct daily responsibilities. 

“My job is making sure the seven board members have what they need and that I’m always there to provide assistance for the Superintendent, Dr. Newman, and the board members. I have learned so much over the years. I love what I do and being able to assist in every way possible to give back to my community,” expressed Mrs. Garza.

“I’m in charge of everything from food service to the bus schedules, from heat to cooling to lighting. I support and help with the budget and make sure all the teachers get paid on time. I also manage utility bills for our schools,” explained Mr. Hawkins. 

Within these roles, like any other Board members, they have priorities of their own. There is always room for growth in our school system, and in order for that to happen we need motivated individuals willing to make it happen. 

“Safety has become an issue for almost every parent in America recently,” said Mrs.Garza. “We want to make everyone feel comfortable again, like how we used to feel back in high school, and to normalize the feeling of safety in our schools,” she added.

 Though being a clerk can be hectic, Mrs.Garza and Mr. Hawkins have always continued to inspire as well as support the students of Manassas City Public Schools, both directly and indirectly. Though they are often behind the scenes, they are two of the most important pieces of the puzzle needed for keeping our school system running. 

“You guys, the students [motivate me]. It’s beautiful to see kids at the elementary level since I’ve been working here grow up and eventually register their own kids into our school system. It makes me feel like I’ve done my job well,” explained Mrs. Garza.

“I want our students to have the best of everything. I know that a lot of our students come here and are not from America; they don’t always speak English, so I want you guys to have a school system and school that they are proud of. Seeing the students use and enjoy our new furniture additions to Osbourn also makes me happy,” added Mr. Hawkins.

Overall, as we use this week to recognize our School Board Clerks, take some time to look around our school. You might be surprised at how much in our building actually originates from a decision that a Clerk might have made or assisted with. The football stadium’s unmatched lightwork, the robots that keep our classrooms safe and clean, and an unexpected visit from Dr. Newman: all of these things are thanks to the work of our very own School Board Clerks.

Thank you for all that you do, Mr. Hawkins and Mrs. Garza!