Who are you?
Hello! I’m Roger Schlegel. I grew up in the District with four sisters and brothers and have lived in Takoma Park since 2002. My wife and I are long-time high school teachers, with two children, at Takoma Park Middle School and Einstein High School. Chances are you’ve seen me biking or walking around town. People who know me consider me warm, funny, soulful, and outgoing, with an analytical mindset and a patient willingness to give people the benefit of the doubt. Here are two pieces of wisdom that I try to live by: Every challenge has an opportunity as its flip side. Little actions done with love have big ripple effects.
What’s your background?
Before becoming a teacher, I worked for majority-Black organizations, including the DC Public Schools administration, the City of Durham, N.C. and an Anacostia-based nonprofit for diversity training. As a literature and geography teacher, I focus on how innovations in food production, energy systems, and urban design are helping places become more sustainable and equitable. At UNC-Chapel Hill, I majored in history and later earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration, focusing on local government. I also earned a Masters in Literature from the University of Virginia, focusing on how communities in America develop and tell their own stories.
I’ve traveled to 47 states, examining how cities and towns manage their operations and respond to change, not only through technical or financial solutions, but also through cultural expression. I spent a year traveling throughout the state of North Carolina documenting how local municipalities function, for a textbook. And I served as a consultant for Wake County, North Carolina developing a Draft Stormwater Management Plan. An avid musician and singer who has also directed high school theater productions, I delight in meeting and creating with other people. Hablo y entiendo español, pero todavía no soy fluido.
What’s your Takoma Park experience?
My first civic activism in Takoma Park was volunteering to shovel all the sidewalks on my block (I wanted the exercise). Since that humble start, I have been:
- Founding plot-holder, Montgomery County’s first Community Garden, in Pinecrest, 2009.
- Co-President, Takoma Park Cooperative Nursery School, 2009-11; co-led strategic planning process.
- Secretary, lead writer, Takoma Junction Task Force, 2010-12.
- Co-chair, City Manager Search Committee, 2013-14.
- Co-leader, Pinecrest Community Association effort to expand sidewalk network and successfully advocate for neighborhood play space, 2009-2016.
- Core member, ad hoc “Budget Study Group” providing public analysis of budget, 2020.
- Current member, City Parking Management Task Force.
- Committed member of a network of residents working to advance Takoma Park values with respect to development, climate, racial equity, transparency, and affordability.
I’m an Azalea Award recipient (as a “Tak-tivist”) for my Takoma Park activism, and I frequently comment at Council meetings. I have spent hundreds of hours studying details of the City’s budget, policies, and projects, determined to shed light on the workings of the City and dedicated to the idea that sustainability requires broad input, responsive design, and loving attention to the details. I believe in welcoming conflict as a path to progress, and have a habit of listening even harder when honest disagreements arise.
Listen to “Meet Roger Schlegel” on WOWD Takoma Radio here.