Five candidates are vying for three seats on the 9-member South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education on November 2, 2021: Shannon Cuttle, William Rodriguez, Qawi Telesford, Arun Vadlamani and Kaitlin Wittleder. Terms are for three years. The following candidate statement is from Kaitlin Wittleder.
Why I’m running
I think there is an opportunity to build a more effective relationship between the Board of Education and the School Administration, one centered around frequent, diplomatic communication and where individual roles and responsibilities are clearly defined and measured to ensure that each individual who plays a role in the governance of our school district, is delivering on the district’s goals year after year. I want to play an active role in establishing a high-level of professionalism and respect on the Board so that we can remain laser-focused on creating and onboarding policies and curricula that offer our students a best-in-class education.
Just like all of you, I love South Orange and Maplewood and I believe in our schools but I know that the potential to do better is far greater than what we’re offering our students today. I recently interviewed for the five month Board of Education seat because I want to help at the highest level of this district and I’m ready to do the work that needs to be done for all of our children. I believe that we must create robust curricula and strong student-teacher relationships that drive student engagement, meaningful learning and prepare students for life beyond the classroom. I truly believe that every child matters and that being a Board Member would provide the unique opportunity of playing a transformative role in the lives of our students. As a Mom to three beautiful children, I can’t imagine a better way to invest my time and commitment than to represent the needs of all of our SOMA families.
I will be celebrating my five year anniversary of being a Maplewoodian this fall. I am a proud mother to three children and enjoy spending time in both towns and connecting with members of the community. Early childhood development has always been a passion of mine and much of my time has been spent in youth volunteer capacities within the communities I’ve resided in.
I’ve spent the majority of my career in business development having worked in the financial services industry and within the nonprofit sector. I was responsible for designing and implementing strategies that created new business partnerships and sustainable lines of revenue growth. One of my main priorities was to engage with key stakeholders across the organization to better understand the needs of the business, identify areas for new development and secure buy-in across all verticals for proper strategy execution. Creating value alignment and breaking down internal barriers enabled my team to build consensus among stakeholders with different opinions, concerns, strengths, weaknesses and ideas. I believe that these skills would serve me and the public well on the Board of Education.
I have had the opportunity to work alongside national and local boards at two major nonprofit organizations: The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and The National MS Society. I partnered with these Boards in an effort to build new corporate partnerships and increase funding for the respective philanthropic missions of both nonprofits. While living in Colombia, I served as Board Member of the American Society of Bogotá which connects and celebrates Colombian and American cultures through social events and supports causes that benefit education in Bogotá.
Youth Volunteer Engagements
- Girls on The Run Coach – Jefferson School (2018) , Middle School (Fall 2021)
- Fundación Proyecto Union – orphanage for disabled children – Bogotá, Colombia (2015-16)
- Middle School Girls’ Basketball Coach at the St. Stephen of Hungary School in New York (2014)
- Power Lunch Reading Program Mentor at PS111 in New York (2008- 2010)