Atoosa Reaser, a mother and attorney, is jumping into the race for Loudoun County School Board.
With a campaign kickoff event Saturday, Reaser formally launched her bid for the Algonkian District seat, which has been held by Debbie Rose since 2012. Rose has said she will not seek a third term.
Reaser, 47, said her experience in the education system as a child helped inform her decision to run. Her parents moved her from Iran to the U.S. amid the Iranian revolution in 1979. They wanted to ensure their daughter had access to a quality education, “and that was at risk with some of the changes going on in Iran,” she said.
Reaser enrolled in elementary school in the U.S. at 8 years old and changed schools eight times before graduating high school in Fairfax County. “Seeing so many different types of classroom situations and learning English as a second language, I had to figure so many things out for myself,” she said. Her father attended college and graduate school, but neither of her parents had ever experienced public K-12 education in the U.S. “They didn’t know what an AP class was, for example.”
Her experiences made her adaptable and empathetic, qualities she said are especially needed in school leadership as Loudoun is seeing more and more students who are first-generation Americans and learning English as a second language.
“When you see and experience a lot of different things in life, it does make you more empathetic. It helps your ability to listen, learn from other people and have your mind changed,” she said. “I think to be an excellent representative, you have to have the ability to seek out information and change your mind, so you can represent all your constituents, not just your own voice.”
If elected, Reaser said she would focus her work on the board on ensuring students and staff members feel safe and welcome. “You have to feel safe and welcome before you can learn, before you can teach,” she said.
That includes bolstering school safety, improving teachers’ salary, and decreasing class sizes. She also wants to look at how to improve the infrastructure of some of the county’s aging school buildings, several of which are in the Algonkian District. Other priorities are to encourage more consistency of services and opportunities from school to school, and to improve communication from school system leadership to families.
Reaser serves on the Minority Student Achievement Advisory Commission’s executive board and was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to serve on the Community Policy and Management Team. She has been a PTA leader, a classroom volunteer, and a substitute teacher. Now practicing law part-time, Reaser previously served as deputy town attorney for the Town of Herndon and as a general practice litigator in a small firm. She said she’ll likely seek an endorsement from the Loudoun County Democratic Committee.
She and her husband have lived in Cascades for 15 years and have a 15-year-old son. Follow Reaser’s campaign at atoosareaser.com.