Introducing Sami Saeed, MCPS’ next SMOB


Photo by Sami Saeed

Richard Montgomery High School student, Sami Saeed will serve as the Student Member of the Board (SMOB) for the 2023-24 school year.

By Julia Levi, Observations Editor

Fed up with empty promises and a vast opportunity gap, recently elected MCPS Student Member of the Board (SMOB), Sami Saeed, is determined to ensure that all students feel heard and represented. After months of campaigning, Saeed is eager, well equipped and more than willing to drive positive change throughout MCPS.

Saeed is a junior at Richard Montgomery High School (RMHS) elected on April 19 to represent all MCPS students as a voting member of the Montgomery County Board of Education for the 2023-24 school year. Saeed first got involved with advocacy as SGA president of RMHS, the SMOB advisory council and the Montgomery County Commission on Youth and Children.

I’ve witnessed areas such as the Downcounty Consortium (DCC) go unrepresented and ignored in MCPS policy. I’ve experienced first-hand how my voice has gone unheard as a student of color. Though, most of all, I have not seen enough change come from our past student leaders who promised so much yet did so little, and that is the reason that I decided to run for SMOB,” Saeed said. “Because of my devotion to true representation and innovation in our County, I decided to step up and become the change I, and MCPS students, want to see.”

Just like many WCHS students, Saeed understands the disparities within the county. Issues from a lack of funding to infrastructure are at the top of his list to resolve.

“Where you live and what you look like truly do determine the quality of your education,” Saeed said. “While there is no one solution to close the opportunity gap, there are real and meaningful steps we can take to reduce it. The first is by having an equitable funding model for schools in our County, where schools that are not getting outside funding from parent boosters or other resources can get extra MCPS aid. Furthermore, MCPS should have system-wide surveys for students and staff alike to determine whether all schools are given adequate resources for arts, athletics and extracurriculars, as well as the quality of the school infrastructure.”

One of Saeed’s goals for next year includes revamping the school lunch menu in order to accommodate and appeal to all students. Saeed has already taken action to accomplish this through his involvement in the SGA.

“I want to ensure that all students can enjoy nutritious and delicious school lunches,” Saeed said. “To achieve this, I want to create the first student taste testing committee where students get to taste test and vote on new potential lunch menu items. I even organized and hosted one of these events at my school last month! I also want to have student surveys that ask them about the quality of their school lunches to determine which schools need more focus and which are doing well. I would also encourage the creation of more diverse lunch options, such as vegan, Halal and Kosher lunch options.”

Throughout his campaign for SMOB, Saeed visited every middle and high school in MCPS. Not only did his visits give him a better idea of the pressing issues that affected each school community, but they also allowed him to hear from students directly.

“Visiting nearly every middle school and all high schools honestly changed my entire perspective on MCPS,” Saeed said. “I got to see different types of school infrastructure, hear directly from students on a number of issues facing their schools, and most of all, I truly got to see how diverse students in our County really are. One of my largest takeaways is that no two schools are the same; every school has their own strengths, weaknesses and goals.”

One of the most crucial qualities of a SMOB is the ability to connect and engage with students, as Saeed’s role involves advocating for the MCPS student body as a whole.

“My first impression of [Sami] was that he was respectful and down-to-earth,” WCHS junior Naya Shams said. “When asked about his policies and goals as SMOB, he communicated clearly and with composure. I believe a dependable leader is a leader that can grow from their mistakes, collaborate, and be genuine. After seeing Sami discuss with my peers, I do think he has these qualities.”

Along with endless responsibilities, the role of SMOB also comes with endless obstacles. To be in the public eye while serving as the voice for thousands of students means constantly being held accountable.

“There are always going to be challenges in any high-ranking position, and SMOB is no exception,” Saeed said. “First and foremost, I am one member of a Board of Education of eight people, which means I don’t have much of a direct vote on things like our budget and the hiring of staff. Even when it comes to advocating for things like better school lunches, the Board may find other priorities they see as more important to focus on. For example, students strongly support monthly wellness days where teachers can’t assign work. However, this may be in conflict with the Teachers Union (MCEA), so I could definitely get pushback there. Student representation and participation is another common issue, as it is extremely difficult to represent all 88,000 middle and high school students in MCPS.”

Saeed’s 12 years as a student in MCPS have given him firsthand experiences to prepare him for his job at SMOB. Saeed’s appreciation for the students he represents and passion for advocacy has inspired him to become the leader students need.

“Students in MCPS truly are driven, passionate and hardworking,” Saeed said. “I have met and spoken with so many students, and the number of unique talents, initiatives and programs they are involved in astonished me. We really do have one of, if not the best student population in the state, and arguably the entire country.”