Election Government Maplewood Schools / Kids South Orange Towns

Letter to the Editor: Smith Endorses Pai, Eastman & Freedson

I am thrilled to endorse Madhu Pai, Wayne Eastman, and Margaret (Peggy) Freedson, and urge all residents in Maplewood and South Orange to vote for them in the November election for Board of Education.

We are at a critical turning point in the school district, with a new Superintendent and a number of other individuals starting new administrative positions, with our efforts to open up access to challenging coursework for all students, with the ongoing implementation of the Common Core and PARCC testing, with increasing fiscal restraints, and many more issues.  We need Wayne and Madhu, proven leaders on the Board of Ed, to work on these challenges during the next three years.  Peggy, with her incredible experience and knowledge about education generally and the issues faced by the school district in particular, will bring much added value to the table.

Madhu Pai joined the Board with a strong desire to work toward achievement for all students and the strengthening of our schools.  She is a consistent voice of reason and strives for collaboration among Board members, administrative staff, and faculty.  She also delves into the details of every matter, helping to ensure that we are doing the best that we can for our students and teachers, and emphasizes fiscal responsibility given our tight budgetary constraints.  She brought her vast communications experience to the fore in chairing the Community Engagement and Outreach Committee and has served as the Board’s First President since January 2015.

Wayne Eastman, who has served on the Board for 9 years and who assumed the role of President in January 2015, has been a huge proponent of global education, course offerings that prepare students for college and career readiness, and choice, accessibility, and accountability in educational programs.  As President, he has steered the Board during a difficult time without a Superintendent, while constantly insisting on maintaining the appropriate roles for the Board and the Administration.  A strong and effective leader, he has overseen and brought to a successful conclusion the hiring of our new Superintendent, has continued to emphasize good policy governance on the part of the Board and adherence to Board goals.

Dr. Margaret (Peggy) Freedson has a wealth of knowledge, having taught at the elementary school level early on in her career, and who now is a full-time faculty member at Montclair State University, where she prepares preschool and elementary teaching candidates in language arts literacy education.  Peggy has worked extensively with program administrators and in-service teachers throughout New Jersey, providing training on effective teaching for young English language learners and on language arts literacy topics such as reading comprehension, Common Core implementation, and interactive approaches to English grammar and foreign language instruction. She mentors student teachers in elementary classrooms in a number of school districts.  She is an active volunteer in our community and will be invaluable as a Board member.

The Pai, Eastman & Freedson team shares my belief in access to challenging coursework for all students, fiscal responsibility, supporting teachers, strengthening early education to provide better outcomes in later years, and a global outlook with a practical view to college and career readiness.  Please join me in voting for Madhu Pai, Wayne Eastman, and Margaret (Peggy) Freedson on November 3.

Donna Smith, Member of the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education

This is an individual endorsement, and does not reflect the position of the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education.

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