The Village Green has invited the candidates for the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education to submit statements for publication, which we will run as we receive them. Election day is November 6, 2018.
I am proud to call South Orange-Maplewood my home. We moved here more than 18 years ago and have benefitted from the strong and thoughtful education afforded our daughters. With one having gone through the entire school system, from South Mountain to South Orange Middle School to Columbia High School (2016 graduate), one at SOMS and one still at South Mountain Elementary, I have a robust appreciation for all the good our schools provide as well as the areas of potential we have yet to tap.
Since choosing SOMA as my own, I have consistently volunteered in roles within the YMCA, the schools and youth soccer including currently serving as the Director of Travel Soccer for Cougar Soccer Club. Coupled with my professional experience in corporate communications, where work requires me to analyze data, identify white space for strong narratives and form coalitions to effect lasting change, I am well-suited to represent the diverse needs, high expectations and multidimensional inputs needed for consensus building of our two towns as our schools go through unprecedented restructuring necessary physical expansion on our path to providing the exceptional education we all want.
I am committed to working with all stakeholders on our path to provide a high-quality education for all SOMA students. Because All Means All, from our students with learning differences or special needs, our highly gifted students, our English language learners, our students of color, our LGBTQ+ students, and our students impacted by poverty, as well as traditional learners and students who do not fall into any of these groups.
For any of this to happen, we need to put a stop to the pattern and practice of scorched earth flashpoints that have caused a rapid accumulation of broken trust and disillusionment which have been discarded and encouraged, respectively, by central Administration. Our community struggles with decisions made by Administration because details are held too close to the vest, questions purposefully left unanswered and feelings of dissatisfaction allowed to manifest into points of crisis instead of being used as opportunities to bring the community closer to the process and ambassadors for the district vision. There’s much more we can do and must do to make SOMA a premier education town, but first we need to throw out these antiquated notions of making blanket changes that amount to solutions in search of a problem and existing in an opaque haze in favor of policies that are based in pragmatic and conclusive evidence coupled with groundbreaking transparency.
Our community has been subjected to a central Administration with a virtual non-existent ability to communicate with authority or believability and its time we demand better. As a member of the BOE, I commit to Listen, Share and Improve. LISTEN is about ensuring two-way communication to ensure the voices in our district are heard with respect and consideration from ongoing listening tours, scheduled meet and greets and an unyielding promise to respond to every inquiry within 48 hours. SHARE ensures we proactively share information with our neighbors with unprecedented transparency. And, IMPROVE couples the promise to do better for every student with hard metrics for renewed accountability including creating a full-time position for an Assistant Superintendent of performance who is singularly focused on “thinking about, working on, and closing our achievement gap all the time, every day.”
We got into this position by making the same decisions and expecting different results. Come November we need three new players on the BOE if we’re to truly embrace the opportunities in front of us on our path to making data-driven decisions that fully support the best needs of all of our students.