The most important challenge we face is how to help ALL children reach their potential while using the resources we currently have. Throughout our country, the opportunity gap has led to sizable differences in achievement between students from different racial and socioeconomic groups. We must continue to close this gap here in the Morris School District, and give ALL students access to a rigorous and competitive school experience. I will continue to advocate for research-based resources and training to help teachers reach all students. I will support policies and programs that encourage systematic collaboration between administrators, parents, students and the community. I will work to streamline and strengthen district goals backed by results driven initiatives to build stronger schools and a stronger Morristown.
I have served on the Morris School District School Board for 3 years and been a parent volunteer in our schools for 4 years before that, but my passionate involvement in education pre-dates my time in the Morristown schools; it includes community organizing, working as a teacher, and working with students on college and career awareness. All of my educational and community experience has made me a better advocate in and out of the classroom and the boardroom.
The Morristown community has energized me to the greatness all our kids can achieve. We’re starting from a good place, but I have shown a true commitment to support our schools in going from good to great. During my 3 year tenure I believe we’ve made immense progress. I’ve been laser focused on communication and collaboration with parents and the community, boosting achievement across the board, supporting all MSD staff, and funding programs that work. But there is more work to be done. I will continue to work hard to ensure the positive and balanced experience of all students and stakeholders in our educational system. I sincerely want to thank the community for remaining so engaged and for what we have achieved together.
Our community has been tested over the last several months. Our staff has been pushed to work longer and harder to meet the needs of our students and families are yearning for our schools to build a culture of inclusiveness and equity. Through it we have also seen countless examples of the strength, compassion, and grit that make us proud of our district, our accomplishments and hopeful for our future.
Our administration has done an outstanding job through this crisis. We’ve gotten students back to school in person on a regular basis in a complex environment. Students have gotten time to understand health and safety routines, opportunity to get their Chromebooks, and time to connect with their teachers. We’ve had to make tough decisions to make this happen. We will need to assess where students are in their learning and ensure we have the resources and the commitment to address any gaps that have developed since last Spring.
The most important challenge facing our school district is to re-envision this coming school year and determine what education will look like in the presence of COVID-19.
If elected, I will address this challenge as a Board of Education member by:
1. Examining all policies and recommending changes, if applicable
2. Analyzing data provided by the District with regards to the impact of COVID-19 on student achievement and recommending changes, if applicable.
3. Working together with The Board and Superintendent of Schools.
Since an early age, I have noticed that the choices I made in life had the power to change many things. For example, it was my choice to further my education that contributed to my present position as Assistant Superintendent of Schools; and it was my choice to have a family that contributed to the blessing of two beautiful grandchildren.
I believe that in a school district the choices we make should be driven towards chasing equity for children. It is our collective responsibility to cultivate many possibilities for all children, so that when they are making decisions about their educational futures, they have a good array of choices to explore.
In my 39 years in public education, I have been an advocate for children. I am confident that I will be able to contribute, if elected on November 3rd to the Morris Board of Education, to the creation and maintenance of quality and equitable choices for all children.
If elected to The Morris Board of Education, I will undertake the following steps:
1. Review Strategic Plan of the District
2. Review the Morristown Road Back Plan 2020-2021
3. Review all Policies
4. Review 2020-2021 Budget
5.Review and analyze disaggregated data with regards to student achievement
6. Work with other Board members, the Superintendent of schools, and community stakeholders to continue to provide an effective communication system where we can all work together to chase equity for children and cultivate possibilities for all.
Outside of COVID-19, the most important challenge faced by the Morris School District Board of Education (MSD) is major population growth. On January 16, 2020, the Morris County Planning Board presented a report on ‘Demographic and Economic Trends’, which named Morristown as one of a half dozen municipalities that experienced major population growth from 2010 to 2018. As of July 1, 2019, data showed Morristown’s population increased by 5% since the last Census. If elected, I would utilize results from the 2020 Census to better inform which measures are taken to properly meet the needs of an expanded population of school-aged residents. Achieving curriculum coherency with the Morris Plains School District (MPSD) is another important challenge facing the MSD. If elected, I would like to play a key role in collaborating with MPSD Board Members on its pre-kindergarten through eighth grade curriculum to ensure students are fully prepared to matriculate through a high school that serves three distinct communities. Lastly, I wish to mitigate stagnant achievement gaps among students of color by fostering parent groups.
I am uniquely qualified and prepared for this office by way of various life stages. As a lifelong resident of Morris County, I matriculated at Roxbury Public Schools before attending Trinity College in Hartford, CT. As a student-athlete from the fifth grade through college I gleaned the importance of teamwork, which translates directly to the board of education. In aspiring to emulate my mother’s 30-year career with the Department of Defense, I came home from college with degrees in Political Science and Public Policy. From 2014 to date, I have been interning, networking, and organizing my local community. Despite my personal and professional qualifications, I am constantly seeking to learn and improve all aspects of public service.
The first step to address both immediate and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 crisis would be fostering a communication portal between students, parents, faculty, staff, and residents that provide all stakeholders with identical information. Secondly, I would conduct a full inventory of available resources (financial, technical, etc.) originating from the County, State, and Federal levels of government. Lastly, I would secure a direct point of contact at each level of government responsible for maintaining effective lines of communication to ensure regular dialogue is held between both elected officials and public administrators.
The impacts of COVID-19 on our district will continue to be a priority. I recommend addressing these impacts in the same calm and measured manner in which our district has since day one. Committing to providing exceptional learning experiences in a safe, healthy, and inclusive environment; aligning with The Road Back, recommendations from the CDC, and state and local public health officials; seeking input and feedback from all stakeholders; providing thorough and transparent communication; and remaining flexible as conditions develop. It is also important to ensure resources are provided to combat the long-lasting impact on our children’s social and emotional health and development. Another priority is to continue implementing the Equity and Inclusion Action Plan to create the most equitable and inclusive learning community for each of our students and staff. This happens by providing culturally relevant learning experiences and instruction; hiring and training exceptional educators from diverse backgrounds and perspectives; and promoting the success of each student by ensuring access to positive and diverse relationships. Upholding social justice in our district is essential.
I am an accomplished self-driven attorney and stay-at-home parent who has devoted nearly 20 years to community service here in Morristown. As a member for 16 years, my volunteer roots are embedded in the Junior League of Morristown. I was president of the Washington’s Headquarters Neighborhood Association for 4 years. Almost two years ago, I was appointed to the Morristown Zoning Board of Adjustment. My primary motivation to become a member of the Morris School District Board of Education is my son, Braden, who will soon begin first grade at Normandy Park School. There was never any question in my mind that I would be an active participant in his schooling. From volunteering as class parent in preschool to now serving as Treasurer of the Normandy Park School HSA, I have enjoyed supporting him on his budding educational journey. I believe it is important for the community to understand that I have a personal long-term interest in ensuring that every child receives the best possible educational experience - socially, emotionally, and academically. That in and of itself, makes me especially suited for this role and I hope you will vote for me on Election Day.
As mentioned previously, I believe that in the midst of this crisis we must provide students exceptional learning experiences in a safe, healthy and inclusive environment. I recommend continuing to address the impacts of COVID-19 in the same calm and measured manner in which Superintendent Pendergrast, his administration, and the MSD Board of Education have since day one. We must also remain flexible as shifts in local, state, and national conditions develop and require us to pivot yet again. Now, more than ever, as we embark on the new school year, it will be crucial to monitor our students’ social, emotional, behavioral and academic status and development. It will be necessary to continue providing professional development and up-to-date technical resources to our faculty and staff so they can keep performing their daily magic in the lives of our children. Finally, nothing could be more important than a commitment to treating one another with kindness and respect, and to allow ourselves that same grace during this remarkably challenging moment in history. This is hard, but in the words of author Glennon Doyle, “we can do hard things.”