Within hours of the school board election results, staff reporter Vernon C. Thompson started calling the winners and inviting himself into their homes for personal glimpses of their families and lifestyles. The following brief sketches grew out of his visits. JOHN WARREN
John Warren, 33, has more to celebrate this week than his narrow victory over Loraine R. Bennett in the battle for the Ward 6 Capitol Hill school board seat.
Warren, vice president of the National Institute of Public Management, plans this weekend to marry Jerri Adams, president of the San Diego National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Warren, the youngest elected official in the city until 30-year-old Nathaniel Bush carried Ward 7 in this election, will gain two teenagers, 14 and 16, as a result of the marriage.
The new family, he said, will force him to "put myself where my mouth is." His two children will attend Kramer Junior High and Anacostia Senior High.
"I would have been more concerned about them attending these two schools, if I had not worked several years ago to improve those schools," he said in the parlor -- his word -- of his home on a hilltop in Anacostia, during a visit with his retired father, John, and a reporter.
The yellow Victorian house, with its preserved woodwork and molding, seems to mirror Warren's appreciation for detail.
The parlor itself, filled with mementos of his studies and travels, has displayed over the fireplace an ornate sombrero from Mexico and two foils crossed beneath it from Warren's fencing days at Howard University.
As Warren listened to Earl Klugh, his favorite jazz artist, in the back-ground, he said he is looking forward to working with the new school board members: "Although they were supported by the mayor, I know they are strong individuals and I know we will be able to work together."
Warren, who attended Spingarn High School, where he was a member of its Cadet Corps, said: "There were rough dudes at Spingarn. They didn't have any chumps then."
After working for several years on Capitol Hill as a legislative aide for Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Warren attended Howard and then the University of Southern California, where he is completing a Master's degree in public administration by correspondence.
"I was influenced in many ways by Adam Clayton Powell. He taught me indirectly to appreciate antiques and showed me how to coordinate my wardrobe," Warren said.
Warren, referring to his fencing days at Howard, used a fencing metaphor for his past problems with several school board members.
Extending his hand and wrist before him as if holding a foil, he said: "I thought when I was elected to the school board, I would be able to use my skills like a foil to delicately lunge at the proper moment or parry intelligent questions. Instead, I found there were school board members who were hackers and I had to defend myself the best way possible." NATHANIEL BUSH
Nathaniel (Nate) Bush -- who once planned to become a professional football player -- has, at 30, become the youngest elected official in the District of Columbia.
The voters' choice to represent Ward 7 in Southeast Washington, the new school board member sat on the living room floor of his modest Pennsylvania Avenue apartment and pointed to his 9-year-old daughter Traci. "She is the real reason I ran for the school board," he said.
Continuing to talk as his year-old son toddled up and stuck the nipple of his baby bottle into dad's mouth, Bush said he wanted to have control over the policies that affect his children's lives.
His daughter attends River Terrace Elementary School just off Benning Road, where, she said, she takes social studies courses and music, plays kickball, jumps rope and sings in the Region 3 chorus.
Bush, who in his spare time plays tennis and golf, jogs and lifts weights, attended D.C. public schools all the way up to Eastern High School. One of his instructors at Eastern was Dwight Cropp, now executive secretary to Mayor Marion Barry and husband of Linda, was elected to the school board last Tuesday.
Bush, who was supported by Mayor Marion Barry in his campaign, is proud of his achievement: "It shows that my ward wanted to have someone, in office that came from the city and supports it."
He said the people who criticized him for having the mayor's support must have been surprised election day.
"When they look at the results they can only see two possibilities," he said.
"Either the people in my ward really don't care about the mayor's support, or there is really a political machine in Washington -- heads I win, tails they lose."
An attorney in the chief counsel's office for the federal Bureau of Tobacco, Liquor, and Fire Arms Control, Bush said he met his wife, Dianne, a secretary for the Environmental Protection Agnecy, when he was in high school and she was attending Burdick Career Development Center.
Bush, who played football at Ripon College in Wisconsin, said he dreamed of becoming a professional football player until an injury and a decision to atend law school changed his plans.
Once president of an organization called SOUL -- Student Organization of Understanding and Love, a black student organization -- Bush later attended law school at Cleveland State University where he was a moot court (practice court for law students) champion.
He said one of his first priorities as a member of the Board of Education is to fullfill his promise to the parent so specially handicapped children in the public school system. Eugene Kinlow
Eugene Kinlow reminds of his family of the Mad Hatter. He is always rushing. Even during an interview at his far Southwest Washington home, he was late to a community meeting and sat uncomforably for a family picture.
Kinlow, deputy director of the Office of Personnel Systems Integrity at the U.S. Department of Health, Eduction and Welfare, is an incumbent who was reelected to the at-large board seat this November after he won his seat last May in a special election.
The living room of Kinlow's home is well furnished, as it should be, since for the past 2 1/2 years the Kinlows have owned a furniture store, Kinlow's Furniture Carpet Mart, in Northeast Washington which is run by Kinlow's wife, Nan.
Kinlow, 39, who comes from Dumas, Ark., met his wife, at Arkansas AM & N, where he was a math major. His college yearbook noted his major, calling Kinlow simply, "The Brain."
He and his wife came to Washington in the early 1960s after he took a job at the Census Bureau in Suitland, Md. Since then, the family has moved three times and has grown to seven. Kinlow's children are: Jacquie, 19, Eugene, 17, Michael, 16, Tonya, 11 and, Cedric, 10. All attended D.C. public schools.
Kinlow said he and his wife discussed the possibility of sending their oldest daughter to private school in the 1960s, but they decided they were committed to the public school system. About the same time they realized they could not afford to send all their children to private school.
None of the children have regretted the decision. Kinlow's oldest daughter is now at Georgetown University where she studies international affairs. His oldest son studies business at the University of Pittsburg.
Michael, a junior at Ballou High School, said all of the Kinlow offspring have had pressure on them because their parents were both teachers and they were expected to do well. "You do one little mishap and it explodes and it demeans your family status," he said.
Kinlow, who plays chess with his son when he has time, said he hopes the new school board can overcome past differences and work together professionally. Bettie G. Benjamin
Bettie G. Benjamin, who won Ward 5's Northeast Washington seat for the third time, was reluctant to return a reporter's phone calls after he said he wanted to do a profile of her.
She is a private person, she said, and would be hesitant to do such an interview. She later agreed to a telephone inteview from her office.
One aspect of her life she is not reluctant to discuss is the success of her two children, both of whom attended D.C. public schools including McKinley High in Northeast Washington.
Her son, William III, 22, is in Howard University's medical school and her daughter, Mary Elizabeth, 21, is at Radcliff.
Benjamin, who will not give her age, is a lawyer who received her degree from Howard University. She has been elected to the school board three times since 1974.
She originally came from what she described only as a small town near Pittsburgh. She and her late husband, William, an orthodontist, met in the seventh grade and attended Howard together. They stayed here after college.
Benjamin left the legal profession after her husband disappeared in a plane crash July 4, 1976.
"I am still reluctant to talk about it. . .but I guess I can. It has been three years," she said.
Benjamin was first elected to the school board in 1974, and has been reelected twice. She had been PTA president of Bunker Hill Elementary, Taft Junior High and McKinley High, all schools her children attended.
A former vice president of the board, she says she is very interested in becoming school board president. Her name and those of John Warren (Ward 6 ) and Eugene Kinlow and Barbara Lett Simmons (both at-large) have been mentioned by new school board members as possibilities for the presidency.
Citing her experience and background, Benjamin sounded as if the school board race were not over as she discussed the presidential post.
"I deserve the job," she said. Frank Smith Jr.
While other school board candidates often ducked and dodged the issue of, the mayor's support in the election, newly elected Frank Smith Jr., who represents the Ward 1 Adams-Morgan area, said he probably would not have run if he had not had the mayor's support in the first place.
"What people don't understand is that with the mayor's support, I can tell him something and he will do it. People have been looking at this all wrong."
Smith, who like Mayor Marion Barry came to Washington with a long history of civil rights protest, was interviewed in his Adams-Morgan townhouse as his children, Malaika, 8, and Taric, 6, played with their toys nearby. After awhile, he and his wife Jean told their daughter to turn off the televsion and do her homework. Malaika attends Oyster Elementary School and Taric attends Georgetown Day School, a private school. Smith said he sends Taric to the private school because his son his retintis pigmentosa, or night blindness, which inhibits his learning process.
"I knew I would have to take my lumps on this. . . . We did not have any confidence in the way the public school system's special education program is set up to teach our child. I think we need a better program."
In the comfort of his living room, decorated with African tribal masks and handwoven carpets, Smith also talked about his days in the civil rights movement. It was during the '60s, while protesting in Mississippi, that he met his wife, now a medical student at Georgetown University.
An urban planner, Smith, 37, served two terms as chairman of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission and was elected chairman of the Adams-Morgan Organization four times.
Part of the Atlanta Student Movement with Julian Bond, the new school board member said one thing many civil rights activists forgot when they tried to create alternative societies during the 1960s was the importance of religion.
He said he and his family attend church. "My children have to see that black people can work together. They have to see stable black families. There is plenty of time for them to see the other side. In fact, when they go to school they have to pass four or five winos on the street every day."
One of the first things Smith said he wants to do as a school board member is sponsor a five-day program -- similar to the one the Black Caucus holds every year -- featuring the D.C. school system.
"It will be an event where one day will be dedicated to finding out what a good student is. One day will be to find out what a good teacher is, and one day will be dedicated to finding out what a good parent is. On the last day it will be a dress-up banquet for everyone affected by the school system." Linda Cropp
Linda Cropp's feet were hurting. It was the day after her successful bid Her aching feet were a sore reminder of her decision to wear highheeled shoes to impress voters on election day.
She sat in the den of her Crestwood area home, which had doubled as her campaign headquarters, and discussed her new role on the school board.
A 32-year-old guidance counselor at Roosevelt Senior High, Cropp was born in Atlanta and came to Washington to attend Howard University. She majored in government and later received a Master's degree in education.
She met her husband, Dwight, while she was student-teaching at Eastern High School, where he was her supervising teacher. He has recently been counseling his wife on her new job, since he was once executive secretary of the school board.
The new Board of Education member -- who has traveled to London, Belgium, France, Holland and the Caribbean with her husband -- said she plans to resign her job because of the conflict with her new duties.
She and her husband have two children, Allison 7, and Christopher, 5, both students at Powell Elementary School.
One of the first things she wants to do as a new school board member is take a look at Coolidge High School in her ward. "There is no reason why it should not be one of the best high schools in the city," she said, considering its middle-class neighborhood and perofrmance in the past. "I want to encourage parents to get involved and students to take more responsibility on themselves and attend classes."
During her campaign, Cropp enlisted the aid of her whole family, including her mother-in-law, Lillian Cropp, from Southeast Washington and her parents from Wayne, Pa., to work at the polls. On Halloween, her children --Christopher as the Incredible Hulk and Allison as Princess Leia of "Star Wars" fame -- handed out political leaflets while accepting candy from neighbors.
With light from a fire flickering against a campaign poster on the den wall, Cropp said she is hoping to become a cohesive agent on the school board to pull together different factions and work out solutions to benefit students: "I'm a counselor. I would like to help board members communicate with each other."
She said she plans to stress early childhood education as a partial solution to the school system's problems.
The new school board member, who had never run for elective office before, said she also plans to keep in touch with all of the people who supported her in her successful campaign bid ad get them involved in the school system.