Birthplace and date: Andersen Air Force Base, Guam; Feb. 16, 1957.

Marital status: No longer married.

Children: Solomon, 23; Jonathan, 17.

School children attended: Montgomery County public schools.

College: University of New Mexico; BA, National Labor College; master's degree, University of Baltimore.

Celebrity I most resemble: Oprah Winfrey.

Most notable characteristic or personality trait: I love to laugh out loud!

Language other than English spoken by you and your family: None.

I'd love to trade places for a day with: U.S. Sen. Barak Obama (D-Ill.).

Nobody knows I: am an avid gardener.

Favorite Quote: "If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." -- Frederick Douglass.

Best movie I've ever seen: "Big Fish."

Best book I've ever read: "Beloved," by Toni Morrison.

Favorite subjects in high school: English and music. I was a painfully shy kid, and I expressed myself through writing and music.

My study habits as a student: I rarely ever studied. Most subjects came easily to me so I never really developed study habits until I was in college.

All-time favorite TV show: "Ally McBeal."

Restaurant in my district where parents would most likely run into me: Mayorga Cafe in Silver Spring.

Car I drive: 2001 Pontiac Grand Prix.

Best car I ever had: Volkswagen Rabbit.

Person in history I would most want to meet: Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Most important influence in my life: My father.

Favorite place to vacation: New Mexico.

Most interesting place I've ever visited: New Zealand.

Pet peeve: People who have no manners.

Impression people have of me that I would most like to change:

I'm not sure how the public perceives me, but in my circle of family and friends, their perception of me is that I'm a workaholic. They complain that I don't spend enough time enjoying their company.

Impression people have of Montgomery County schools that I would most like to change:

Because of the success that MCPS has accomplished regarding student achievement, we have all the answers.

Valerie Ervin waters plants in Amanda's Garden, named for a close friend who died in 1997, at her Silver Spring home. Nobody knows about her green thumb, Ervin says.Ervin rates "Big Fish," with actors Alison Lohman and Ewan McGregor, as "best."Shirley Chisholm is the historical figure Ervin would most like to meet.