The Village Green has invited the 9 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.
Annemarie Maini: Why I’m Running
When I went to college in the late 1980s, my goal was to become the first person in my family to obtain a degree and to train as a math teacher. I really enjoyed all of the time I spent in graduate school at Syracuse, teaching incoming students, working in the Syracuse public schools and then, after getting my MA in Math Education, doing a year of teaching Probability, Linear Algebra and Calculus at Jefferson Community College in Watertown, NY.
In retrospect, teaching was and remains my true calling. Somehow, though, my career took some turns, starting with getting an MBA from Cornell in 1994, followed by a job at JP Morgan that lasted 11 years. That job was satisfying and I did very well. But in 2007, I really feel I came home. We had moved to South Orange, I left JP Morgan Chase, and I purchased South Orange Country Day school. Teaching is my first love and running a preschool is my dream job. We try to take all of our very young students and super-charge their curiosity and teach them how to go about driving their own learning and then we graduate them to continue their educational journey through K-12, most of them into the South Orange-Maplewood School District.
I ran for the Board in 2015 because of my increasing concern about serious shortcomings in our school district. I have been hard at it for three years and — together with my colleagues on the Board — have only begun to turn things around. It is a rocky journey and I do hear the many voices in the community who are upset and anxious about a wide range of issues. I am running for a second term to try to stay focused on and finish the work we’ve started. I am determined to see through the changes we’ve undertaken and hopeful about the future.
Our district is on the cusp of making our schools places where all students feel welcome, respected, inspired and safe. Our goal is to help all students discover that they can, through persistence, curiosity and self-reflection, become lifelong learners. We can succeed if we harness the energy, enthusiasm and talent of everyone in our wonderful community.
In my nearly three years on the Board, I’ve learned that board members need the courage to make sometimes unpopular decisions, to stay focused on the district goals the Board adopts at the start of each year, the commitment to the work that needs to be done, and the temperament and ability to build consensus. I am asking for your vote again this fall so that I can continue guiding this work — to ensure that our district carefully implements and realizes our aspirational goals for all of our students.
I also urge you to get to know my running mate, Javier Farfan, who I am convinced will make a great Board member. You can read about him on our website at https://www.boe2018.com. We both believe in listening to learn and inform, collaborating to solve problems, defining effective approaches to Board oversight and providing leadership to stay focused on key district goals.
Most importantly, both of us believe that all children are capable of becoming successful learners, if our teachers take the time to know them and unlock their potential. Our district can be a place where we put the needs of children first in every interaction, action and decision. It will take courageous leadership and perseverance to meet to empower and inspire all students, and Javier and I are ready for that challenge.