Dr. Janet Siddiqui has been a resident of Howard County for 30 years. She is a Pediatrician at Johns Hopkins, she is also part-time faculty at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Janet has served as a member of the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) Board of Education since 2007 where she has made significant contributions to the lives of children in Howard County. Janet works with stakeholders from various communities by leveraging the widely-held beliefs that a rigorous education and embracing of diversity will set up our children for success throughout their lives. She is a passionate advocate for policies that support student and staff health and well-being. As a veteran elected public official, Dr. Siddiqui possesses the logistic, financial, and a legislative acumen.
Janet works tirelessly to ensure our students’ well-being remains a top priority for our system. As both Chair and Vice Chair of the Board of Education, she has spearheaded the HCPSS’s commitment to provide healthier choices for Howard County’s children, to establish life-long healthy habits in eating, exercising, and maintaining mental, emotional, and physical well-being. She was a key advocate in incorporating a focus on the whole child into our Vision for the school system.
Dr. Siddiqui’s leadership resulted in a comprehensive rewriting of our wellness policy, Policy 9090, to go beyond federal requirements and truly embrace communicating healthy choices in all aspects of our work. This was challenging work in a community where stakeholder opinions differed widely. However, Janet brought a wealth of knowledge to the policy development process. She educated members of the board and the wider community about the Institute of Medicine’s Dietary Reference Intakes that became a foundation of the new policy. Her strong belief in stakeholder input was critical to the success of the policy, with Janet working hard to make certain a variety of opinions were represented in the final product. This highly-rated, award-winning policy was recognized by the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.
She was also supported our “Let’s Rethink Lunch” pilot program, which is bringing fresh fruit and vegetable bars, and other tasty and healthy options, to three of our Title I elementary schools. This pilot is providing richer options for school lunches at HCPSS schools with a higher percentage of students receiving Free and Reduced-price Meals, giving some of our most vulnerable students a solid nutritional foundation for learning.
Dr. Siddiqui has advocated for extended recess time for our students in Kindergarten to Grade 8, understanding that regular physical activity is key to increasing student attention and engagement. In response, the Howard County Public School System added additional time to recess and placed the recess block prior to lunch. This scheduling was based on the research Dr. Siddiqui shared with the policy committee that indicated this would be the most effective placement.
She supported the institution of an employee wellness program in partnership with Virgin Health Miles, which, in its third year, has already begun to generate notable cost savings and increased morale. Dr. Siddiqui advocated for additional Nurses in our schools and the inclusion of the Telehealth program in our Elementary School Model pilot and the creation of a school-based wellness center at one of our higher poverty elementary schools. Both have helped keep students in the classroom by making diagnosis and treatment of common childhood ailments more accessible, so that illnesses are treated early and effectively. She has persistently encouraged the adjustment of school start and dismissal times to better support healthy student sleep schedules, especially for teenage students whose cognitive growth requires extra rest.
Dr. Siddiqui is a committed and active Board Member who makes certain that she is well-informed on all the issues that come before the Board. She has been crucial in supporting our efforts to close race-, ethnicity-, and poverty-based achievement gaps and has been a consistent champion of the value of diversity. Dr. Siddiqui understands how culture and socioeconomic status impact the health of our students and families, making certain students vulnerable to academic under-performance because of increased risk of physical and mental disorders that negatively impact learning. In her pursuit of policies that recognize and seek to ameliorate the challenges of students who are living in poverty, she charges the HCPSS with thoughtful consideration of the whole child, understanding that wellness and academic success are inextricably intertwined.
As a pediatrician, Dr. Siddiqui sees firsthand how children and their families are impacted by a myriad of messages that encourage unhealthy behaviors and she is committed to creating even more effective and persuasive climates that encourage well-being. A healthcare leader and Office Medical Director, Dr. Siddiqui brings to the Board her leadership and business experience, as well as her passion for improving the health of children.
Janet is a focused and determined leader who builds consensus and insists on results. Her love of learning is reflected in her enthusiasm for sharing what she has learned with her colleagues and the larger community. She is skilled at navigating stakeholder groups by truly listening to and incorporating a variety of perspectives in her decision-making. Always guided by what is best for the students of Howard County, Janet has helped lead the HCPSS to be a truly world-class school system.