BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. — Cheryl E. Pasteur has been a teacher, principal and even an FBI agent. But as 2018 comes to a close, she has taken on a new roll as a Baltimore County Schools Board Member.
She says she always knew that being on the board was a part of her life’s mission.
Pasteur had been recommended for the position twice and each time the governor appointed someone else.
This year is the first year that the board was wiped clean and all members had to be elected.
“When I was approached by two people to run, I gave it some thought, put it to prayer and decided that’s why I wasn’t appointed because I would have been dropped from the board,” said Pasteur.
The campaign trail was more than she ever expected, but calls that time with former students and colleagues extremely special. Shelia Reed worked with Pasteur for years and served as her volunteer coordinator, coordinating the more than 200 volunteers.
Reed says many of the volunteers were Pasteur’s former students.
“I’m talking about students from when she first started her career in Baltimore City. Individuals who are now in their 50s who volunteered.”
Pasteur began teaching in the 70s and credits that first group of students with shaping her career.
“My students from Lake Clifton class of 1975 will always be number one in my heart because I learned so much from them. I was 21 still wearing miniskirts and an Afro, still thinking it was going to be easy. They showed me the pluses and minuses. I learned so much from them and they always had my back. I learned so much from them that I was able to carry throughout the years,” said Pasteur.
After a career that spans decades, having taught some parents and then their children years later, Pasteur decided to retire in 2012.
“I retired as the principal of the magnificent Randallstown High School. I loved it mainly because I never intended to be a principal anywhere. I always taught a class right up until the day that I retired. Being the principal was just an extension because I always thought I was in charge it was like oh now I have an office to be in charge,” said Pasteur
With hundreds of her former students and colleagues showing up to the polls to make sure Pasteur won a seat on the board, Reed says it speaks to the kind of woman she is.
“Ms. Pasteur is a person that the school board should be delighted to have. She’s smart, she’s witty but she’s firm," said Reed
Pasteur says she’s always wondered what her students meant when they would say, you better not mess with Ms, Pasteur. What did they really think she was going to do to them. There was a level of respect that couldn’t be explained. She believes students understood her true intentions.
“I’ve heard young folk say when they fussed about people and I’d say ok but I jack you up, or I don’t say things much differently. And they’d say but it’s different when you say it or do it because we know you care. I think young people innately know when people really care about them versus doing a job. If it’s a profession you handle it with dignity, with diploma, and out of your heart. I guess that’s it. From 1971. From those first folks at Lake Clifton they showed me that it has to be a matter of the heart,” said Pasteur.
Pasteur also spent some time in the 80s working for the FBI and says that her career detour made her even more committed to teaching. In that time, she says she saw too many people incarcerated who if they had been given a different path and different choices wouldn’t have ended up in Federal Prison.
On December 3,2018, Pasteur was sworn in as new Baltimore County Board Member. She says she is looking forward to shaping policy that will help Baltimore County Schools.