The Village Green has invited the ten 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 7, 2017.
Dear Friends and Neighbors:
Our schools are not a reflection of our community — but they can be, and they should be.
It is a vision of a great school system for all that drives my life’s work, and compels me to run once again for the South Orange/Maplewood BOE this year.
I am a proud graduate of Columbia High School, and former Director of Fine and Performing Arts in SOMSD. I have worked as a teacher and administrator, both in our state system and privately, K through college, for the past 20 years. I have a well-documented history of innovating within the current budgetary, time, and space constraints that our schools face; all the while ensuring all students have a chance to explore their talents and passions during each and every school day.
This coming year, the most important job of the Board of Education will be to hire — and then to evaluate — our next Superintendent. I believe my history as an educator, an artist, and an educational leader will add much-needed diversity of thought to our current Board, and give our community and our district its best chance to get this crucial next hire right.
I was honored and humbled by your support of my campaign last year. I was very moved when speaking to my neighbors, from all walks of life, who were galvanized around a central message: SOMSD has fallen into the all-too-common trap of a narrowed, one-dimensional curriculum — and it hasn’t worked. In fact, it is damaging to ALL students, and therefore fails to provide our children with the skills they will ultimately need to successfully navigate the world that awaits them beyond school walls.
Our K-12 system is built on a 19th century model of conformity and compliance, which is completely at odds with the diversity (of all types) that exist in our towns.
We can change this paradigm.
We need a plan to renovate and reinvigorate our physical plant and redesign our schools. We need to provide a broad, rich, and challenging curriculum for all students and discontinue our narrow, “one size fits some” approach to teaching and learning. We need to stop defining children and teachers by their weaknesses, and instead invest in broadening educational opportunities in our schools to help our children explore and experiment with their passions, interests, and strengths.
Mediocrity has no place in our towns. We have the unique opportunity to lead a transformation in the way we educate our children by embracing all types of diversity, and cultivating creativity in our students throughout their school experience. I know we can do so much better here in SOMSD, and I truly believe I can help. I look forward to seeing you all again and sharing ideas and dreams about what our schools — and our children — are capable of becoming.
All my best,
Associate Director, Assistant Professor
John J. Cali School of Music
Montclair State University
Kinhaven Music School