Change Address

VOTE411 Voter Guide

Madison Borough Board of Education {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

Vote for member of the Board of Education, For 3 year term, Vote for 3
CHOOSE TWO CANDIDATES FROM BELOW TO COMPARE
  • Candidate picture

    Debra Coen Technology and Engineering Teacher

  • Curtis B. Gilfillan attorney

  • Candidate picture

    David Irwin K-12 Education Consultant

  • Candidate picture

    Heather Reddy

  • Candidate picture

    Pamela Yousey Human Resources

Change Candidates

Biographical Information

What do you consider the most important challenge(s) facing your school district and how would plan to address it/them?

What in you personal and/or professional experience prepares you for this office?

Current Elected Position Madison Board of Education
Campaign Email debcoen@gmail.com
There are many great aspects to the Madison school district, but as with any school district there are challenges to address. One area that Madison needs to address is ensuring that all students can achieve at their highest potential – whether an AP/Honors student, a college prep student, or a special education student. The curricula from K-12 needs to address all learners which can be a difficult task, especially with financial constraints, so we will need to look at all avenues that are available. This could include online opportunities, partnering with local colleges, or adding course offerings. The financial constraints also spread to maintaining and improving our facilities. While the GVR money is helping with some areas, there is still a lot to achieve to make our facilities the highest quality and best learning environment possible for students. With the help of our new superintendent and his vision, we will work together as a district to increase student achievement for all.
As a 20-year educator, I bring a unique perspective to the board. Over the past three years, I have been able to provide information that has helped inform decisions that otherwise is not always available in that format. In addition, my background with educating learners of various levels allows me to contribute knowledge during discussions of curricula in dealing with students who are receiving services to the highest achievers. I have a background that includes Special Education certification, K-8 Education, Technology Education and Social Studies. Throughout my time in my district, I have also served on committees that helped to decide on the Teacher Evaluation model, as well as assess it over the years, the Curriculum Council, and Principal's Advisory Council. Working on these committees has helped me to understand more how a district works to achieve its goals and ensure that all students are being educated to their highest potential.
Current Elected Position None
I believe the three most important challenges facing the Madison School District and Board of Education are: a lack of transparency in Board actions and discussion; a lack of straightforward, plain language communications between the district and parents, and; most importantly moving away from an educational policy of trying to make everyone feel good about themselves and back towards an educational philosophy of teaching our children to be successful in the real world, by showing them how to overcome obstacles and difficulties rather than eliminating them from the educational structure. We need to ensure that all of our students, from those in need of special services to the gifted and talented, are challenged and learn how to "get back on the horse" after failures before we send them off to college and then to work as young men and women. Lastly, board actions and discussions, to the extent permitted by law, should be done openly and on the public record.
I have lived in Madison for the better part of a decade and have a son in third-grade at TJS elementary school and another son in eighth grade at Madison Junior School. I have coached youth baseball in the Madison recreational leagues since shortly after moving to Madison, and believe that you need to invest in and support your community for it to thrive. In order for Madison to continue to be the idyllic small town that we love, we all need to give back. Professionally, I have been a trial attorney in the greater New York City area for the last twenty years. I have spent my entire professional life on the public record in one way or another arguing and advocating for clients and their positions. I have also been extensively involved in mediating and arbitrating disputes among disparate and at times hostile parties over the years with a good deal of success. From this perspective I have been a great supporter of transparency and feel my advocacy skills will benefit the district.
Current Elected Position None
Campaign Email davidirwin@yahoo.com
I want all kids of Madison be as excited for school each and every day, just like they were the first day of kindergarten, to have an opportunity to learn in an environment that favors college and career skills such as critical thinking, growth mindset, self-awareness, responsible decision-making, resourcefulness, problem solving, self-management, curiosity and inquisition, to have choice and voice in their learning experiences and to have the ability to demonstrate mastery outside the walls of the classroom. For all teachers, principals and administrators to feel supported and have authentic professional development they need to be successful every day. For all schools to be filled with thoughtful and integrated curriculum, devices, and infrastructure that supports high quality teaching and learning. For all schools to partner with the three universities that surround us to provide more opportunities for the kids and teachers of Madison.
For the past 14 years I have been on a mission to transform public education across the United States. In addition to volunteering at the Madison Schools by lending my expertise over the past four years, I have led initiatives at some of the largest K-12 districts across our country including superintendent coaching, new curriculum adoption, addressing issues of student equity, district-wide strategic planning, personalized learning implementation, IT infrastructure procurement/implementation and special education reform. I have been published nationally in K-12 education publications and have served as a keynote speaker at national K-12 education conferences on district transformation and strategy. I help districts solve their biggest problems.
The mandate of any school district is to meet each and every child's academic needs, regardless of level. However, advocating for each child can be challenging, as is having the flexibility to do so within our budget. To do this, we need consistency and focus in our staffing, and flexible curricula. By focusing on hiring only top candidates for the open positions in our district, prioritizing training of our existing (and new) staff, and focusing on retention, we will see improvement in this area. Madison also needs to regain ground as one of the top school districts in NJ. It is a concern that our ranking has fallen in recent years. With new Board members in place, and our new superintendent, there will be new perspective on how to increase the quality of our teaching and infrastructure. In addition, the administration needs to work to understand the parameters that specifically will help increase our ranking, and where it is possible, align our resources accordingly.
After 12 years of working in Information Technology, I left Morgan Stanley as an Executive Director. Throughout my career, I focused on delivery and management of IT infrastructure and applications. I have extensive experience with planning projects, managing high performing teams, setting customer expectations, meeting deadlines, and creating efficient budgets. I believe that all of these skills and background would be of great value on our school board. I also have 3 young children in the district and a deep personal investment into making our schools the best that they can be for all of our kids.
Campaign Email youseyforboe@gmail.com
The biggest challenge facing our school district is striking the balance between providing all our children with the high quality education and diverse academic experiences our community demands with the realities of the budget we are allocated. This is not unique to Madison. As a district, we will continue to have to find new and innovative ways to get things accomplished and at the same time recognize that sometimes there will have to be trade offs.

We have experienced a dearth of administrative leadership over the past several years and I believe that has begun to be remedied now with the appointment of Superintendent Mark Schwarz, however he has a big task ahead of him to set a vision and direction for the future. Giving him the time and space to make these changes is another significant challenge as it will require patience from the community. That said, it's imperative that we immediately address the backslide in our school rankings through active management of those lists.
Professionally, I have nearly twenty years of experience in Human Resources, both in corporate and consulting. My career has focused mainly in talent management and development, ensuring that employees have the right resources and development to succeed in their roles. I have extensive experience in employee engagement, change management, culture change and adult learning and development. Currently, I work in diversity and inclusion at a Fortune 50 financial services company. In this role, I focus on developing policy, programs and initiatives to cultivate and nurture an inclusive culture. Specifically, I run our work/life, veterans and people with different abilities initiatives. Nearly all of what I focus on in my professional life is applicable to the school setting.

Personally, I am a twelve-year resident of Madison with children at MHS, MJS and KRS. Having direct exposure to all levels of the schools provides me with a unique perspective.

VOTE411.org logo

Disclaimer:

All statements and videos are posted directly by the candidate, unedited by the League of Women Voters and do not express the views of the League. The League never supports or opposes candidates or political parties.