Eight candidates are competing for three spots on the Princeton Board of Education in the Nov. 3 election. Incumbents Beth Behrend and Michele Tuck Ponder will each seek a second term, while six other candidates — Adam Bierman, Jean Durbin, Hendricks Davis, and the slate of Paul Johnson, Karen Lemon, and former board member Bill Hare — hope to fill the seat being vacated by Jessica Deutsch, who did not seek re-election.
The Princeton Echo asked each candidate to answer questions at right about their backgrounds, experience, and priorities for the schools. The questions were as follows:
Background: Please tell us in brief where you are from originally, your academic and professional background, your age, and when and why you moved to Princeton.
Family: Please identify your spouse or significant other, their occupation or employer, and ages of your children. Where have your children attended school and where are they now?
Community Involvement: What activities or organizations have you been involved in that relate to education or the local community, either here or other places you have lived? What caused you to first get involved?
Their answers are presented below in alphabetical order by last name.
Please note that while I am President of the Board of Education, I write here as a private citizen, PPS parent and taxpayer, and not on behalf of the Board.
Background: I am a product of public schools, originally from Hartland, Wisconsin, with degrees from UW-Madison and Michigan Law School. I worked in New York and abroad as a corporate attorney advising Fortune 500 companies on global financings, joint ventures, acquisitions, governance, and regulatory matters. In 2001 I moved with my husband, Robert Eaton, to Princeton, where I served as corporate counsel for a biopharmaceutical company for nine years. We settled in Princeton to raise our family because of the excellent public schools and the vibrant, diverse community.
Family: My husband Robert works for BlackRock. Our three children, ages 14, 16, and 18, have attended Riverside Elementary, the Princeton Unified Middle School, The Pennington School, and PHS. Our oldest (PHS 2020) is a freshman at Princeton University.
Community involvement: In 2010 I turned my attention to my young children and to community service, focusing on the schools, and met the remarkable Dorothy Mullen, Riverside School garden founder. Volunteering with Dorothy led to running the Riverside Green Team, serving as VP of Gardens, and orchestrating the “Healthy Children, Healthy Planet” garden fundraiser, raising over $50,000 over five years. I successfully advocated for paid garden educators and the integration of garden education into the district-wide curriculum, and also co-led the Riverside PTO. I worked with District leadership as a member of the PTO Council and taught religious education at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton (UUCP). I also served on the boards of the Watershed Institute, the NJ League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, the Princeton School Garden Cooperative, and UUCP.
At age 52, I am finishing my first term on the Board of Education, where I have served as president since 2019 and currently sit on the Board’s Finance, Facilities, Policy, Student Achievement (alternate), and Ad Hoc Planning Committees.
The issues: I am running again because I believe proven leadership and experience is what the Board needs to navigate the pandemic and the challenges ahead. During my two years as president, the Board found over $500,000 in recurring savings to stabilize the budget, dramatically improved building maintenance and made bold changes to better meet the needs of all students — through the initiation of free Pre-K, the adoption of restorative justice and a strategic 1:1 device initiative that provided all students equal access to technology.
Looking ahead, it is essential that the Board secure and retain an experienced permanent superintendent, partnering to set clear goals around equity, cultural literacy, and student wellness — all areas where we have heard clearly from our students that we can do better. We must measure and ensure accountability for the many equity measures currently in place, determine what works and what doesn’t, and adopt a more comprehensive K-12 approach to supporting our most vulnerable students. We must continue to reduce costs and spend more effectively; plan creatively for rising enrollments; review county services, and; advocate at the state level for legislative changes to provide additional sources of revenue/savings so we can continue providing all students with an excellent education at an affordable price.
Public education is the cornerstone of our democracy, and it would be a great honor to continue, on behalf of the 32,000 citizens of this community, the hard work of ensuring that our schools deliver an effective, equitable education for all of our children.
I am happy to clarify my positions and look forward to hearing the concerns and questions of Princeton voters. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Background: I am a native Princetonian. I went through the then-Princeton Regional Schools from K-to Princeton High ’78. I received an BA and MA in international affairs and public policy from Rutgers.
Family: My daughter went to Stuart and is now a sophomore in college. My wife is originally from Ecuador and works at the charity clinic at Princeton Hospital. Before I came back home, in the ’90s I worked in El Salvador, Ecuador, and Taiwan. Currently I work as a teacher at a state-run program for young teen moms in Trenton. The site offers daycare for their kids and the goal is to give the young women the stability/support needed to get their high school diploma. We have two indulged but not spoiled dogs.
Community involvement: I was re-elected to the Princeton Democratic Mercer County Committee (PDMC); became a full member of the Princeton Transit Authority Commission (PTAC). I am a Communications Workers of America (CWA) shop steward where I work and also a member of CWA (LPAC ) which is involved in issues of interest to the CWA on the state level. I am working to implement the Neighborhood Buddy Program spearheaded by Sustainable Princeton’s Jenny Ludmer and Councilperson David Cohen.
I produced and hosted Breezin with Bierman on Princeton TV for the past 18 years. On the same station (2017-2019 ) I hosted a show that covered everything Princeton called Princetionia NOW.
Issues: Keeping Princeton Schools excellent and affordable. Cutting wasteful spending. PPS has incredible financial resources. We are third highest spending per student of the 97 school districts in our peer group. Yet the 2019-’20 budget laid off teachers and raised taxes.
Driving money into the class. Teachers over expensive buildings. Getting the students back into school as soon as possible.
How I got involved into the BOE: “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it! Yes this Santayana quote has become cliche, and he should be known for more than this saying. For what I am about to say the quote is apt. I do have an institutional memory when it comes to BOE referenda. We had a terribly botched operation in 2005. Shoddy construction, dysfunctional HVAC, mold, fire between walls, an auditorium that floods. Or let me put this point another way, we have spent over $200 million on our school buildings and we still have mold and dysfunctional HVAC. Would you run your own house like the taxpayers money pit mentioned above?
It does seem competence has returned with a new school facilities management team. When I heard David Harding, director of plant operations, say in a public meeting he “did not trust any contractor” I felt more confident someone was watching the store. Trust but verify, I say. The BOE is a part-time, all-volunteer board. Individual members have very little experience in facilities, finance, and construction. Collectively they do not have the acumen needed to adequately vet and carry out long-term, large-scale facility projects. They need a full-time person (we could find a volunteer) to oversee, coordinate, and communicate these projects.
Then in 2018 the BOE came up with a bloated, ill-conceived $187 million referendum, complete with plans for carving out a functional learning area at PHS, which sounded to me like the discredited “open space” learning concept of the 1970s.
They wanted to build a new middle school. When a concerned group asked about fixed costs at this school, the superintendent at the time was unable to give an answer History was repeating itself. Finally sounder minds for fiscal advocacy on the BOE led by Dafna Kendal pared down the referendum to the current $27 million to meet our schools’ most pressing needs: mold remediation, air conditioning, and more classrooms, due to be completed in summer, 2021. Instead of building a new school, I am in favor of more cost-effective utilization of vacant space in our schools and adding on to existing buildings.
In my opinion, in the past too many members of the BOE have blindly supported the superintendent and his administration without asking all the tough questions or exploring every option. As a BOE member and an independent thinker, I promise to scrutinize closely all spending requests and to leave no path undiscovered.
You can change the Princeton Board of Education. This is no time to raise taxes or delay truly critical fixes. Budget better without outside consultants. Together we‘ll make the most of resources we have: our teachers, our local talent, and our already high taxes.
For more on the cost saving, transparency among BOE members, and more issues go to Adam Bierman for Princeton Board of Education on Facebook.
Background: I am a native of Washington, DC, where I attended public schools, graduating from Western High School (now the Duke Ellington High School of the Performing Arts).
I received the BA degree (sociology) from the Defiance College, (Ohio). After graduation I performed and recorded with the “Sons of Thunder” a Jesus-rock band from the Washington DC area. I came to Princeton to attend Princeton Theological Seminary from which I received the M. Div and Th.M degrees; I also received the MSW degree from Rutgers University New Brunswick.
Community Involvement: After working for the State of New Jersey and the Newark Day Center, I returned to Princeton to be the associate director and then (after a year) the director of field education at Princeton Seminary. I purchased my home on John Street in 1983 and began the process of renovating and developing the property, doing much of the work myself and with the help of students and colleagues from the seminary.
Moving into the Witherspoon Jackson neighborhood I became involved in the life of the community and, over time, have served on the Regional Planning Board, the Consolidation Task Force, District Committeeman, the Princeton Senior Center Board of Trustees, and have been active in the Witherspoon Jackson Neighborhood Association. Though I have had no children in the Princeton schools, I have worked on behalf of children as a member of the board and President of Advocates for Children of New Jersey and have been a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate.)
Also, I have worked with Princeton students and families by initiating the Academic Success Today program through Corner House and the Middle School and the High Quest A Bridge to Success (now Summer Bridge) program of the Princeton-Blairstown Center. It’s been great to see the positive impacts that innovative educational experiences and opportunities can have on the lives of students. If “it takes a village to raise a child” it absolutely is necessary for the whole community (parents, teachers, counselors, volunteers) to contribute to their education, and their growth into adulthood as positive participants of society.
My professional experience includes:
• Psychiatric Social Work Supervisor at the Glen Gardner Center for Geriatrics;
• Executive Director of the Newark Day Center which served children, youth, and adults in three early childhood care and education centers, a senior center and the Newark Fresh Air Fund;
• Director of Field Education, Princeton Seminary, supervising pastors and students churches, hospitals, prisons, and on internships
• Development Consultant, International Fellowship of Reconciliation (Alkmaar, Netherlands); conceived and obtained funding for the Non-violence Education and Training Program
• Consultant, Corner House (Princeton, NJ) developed and John Witherspoon Middle School (initiated Academic Success Today academic mentoring program.high s
• Executive Director, Princeton-Blairstown Center (Princeton University)-outdoor adventure, experiential education and academic support through High Quest (summer education, leadership development for Princeton, Trenton, Newark, and NYC high school students)
• Executive Director, Newark Habitat for Humanity affiliate, building houses and hope in partnership with low-income working families.
Issues: I am running for the Princeton Board of Education because I have: a life-long commitment to education and the positive growth and development of children and youth; the years of experience in and effective leadership of educational, community, and advocacy organizations; a collaborative and engaged approach to planning; critical listening skills and discernment of shared values. These are assets that our BoE and community need to fulfill our mission to educate students.
Three critical issues/opportunities that must be faced: reopening schools in the midst of pandemic and other societal “disruptions” and attending with care to the social/emotional well-being of students, teachers and staff while sustaining excellent academic programs and opportunities; 2) hiring the permanent superintendent whose vision, values and educational mission aligns with the district’s and community’s; 3) planning for growth of the student population over the next decade and changes in the local community, nation and world that will present over the next generation.
Background & Family: I am from a small town in Somerset County in southwestern Pennsylvania. The area is known for farming, coal, and steel and has been economically struggling since I was a child. I went to a rural public school and then on to Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where I majored in English. After working in a publishing house, W.W. Norton & Co., for three years, I moved to Philadelphia to earn an M.S.W. at the University of Pennsylvania. I managed a health food store during this time. Upon graduation from Penn I worked as a hospice social worker for several years. Then I pursued a law degree while working during the day, and I graduated from the evening division at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law.
This was the best educational experience of my life because my classmates were from all walks of life and represented diversity across gender, age, race, sexual orientation, income, and religion. My classmates were parents, grandparents, bartenders, counselors, police officers, doctors, nurses, social workers, accountants, construction workers, fitness trainers, plumbers, retirees … you get the idea.
Every class was thrilling as I heard different perspectives on an array of issues. This was during the O.J. Simpson trial, which offered additional social and emotional learning around the issue of race in America. We also pulled together to study and share notes and outlines, which I understood to be quite different from the competitive day student experience. After graduation, I pursued fulfilling work for the City of Philadelphia Law Department, where I learned from wonderful colleagues how to analyze and defend cases with integrity.
Upon moving to Princeton, I had to leave the City of Philadelphia Law Department due to a residency requirement. I was fortunate to be hired by Princeton University’s Office of Development as the liaison to the Office of the President during a large capital campaign. I served for five years in this fulfilling role. Then I raised money for the Arts Council and the Institute for Advanced Study before returning to the practice of law. I counseled nonprofits and individuals and also served as Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker’s policy director.
I currently lead the contracts management program in procurement services within the Office of Finance & Treasury at Princeton University and am in my fourth year. My work has enabled me to: (1) learn how a premier nonprofit educational institution functions at the highest level; (2) counsel organizations on an array of practical, strategic and legal issues; (3) manage and negotiate contracts while stewarding resources; and (4) effect strong public policy using evidence and data to inform decision-making.
My husband, Jon, and I moved our family to Princeton 14 years ago for a number of reasons, in particular for the excellent, diverse public schools. Jon is a history book editor and vice president at W.W. Norton. He is steady, loyal, and true. Both of our boys went through PPS, and one is now a sophomore in college and the other is a sophomore at PHS.
Community involvement: I currently serve on the Princeton Civil Rights Commission, where we are working on a number of initiatives to help enforce equitable policies and practices within our municipality and raise awareness around issues like systemic racism. Recent collaboration with Princeton University graduate students has helped advance the work of the Commission, as have community forums focused on racial justice.
I am immediate past president of the Princeton Community Democratic Organization, where I worked to provide informative monthly programs on an array of issues related to justice, democracy and our political process.
During my recent service as a Mercer County Big Sister, I learned from our high school students what it is like to feel marginalized based on your race, ethnicity, income, or gender. These revelations were shocking and saddening to me as a parent. My decision to run for the board is based in part on my service as a Mercer County Big Sister and the Civil Rights Commission given its regular work with our schools.
I’ve served our schools as a co-president of the Littlebrook PTO, member of the PTO Council, and parent coordinator of Littlebrook Chess Club. Chess club was a highlight for me. I served for eight years and was able to partner with the PTO to implement a schoolwide chess residency, where each child received instruction in the game and each classroom and the afterschool program were gifted chess sets to encourage play.
I also served on the board of the Princeton Education Foundation (PEF), and after that board service, co-chaired two PEF galas. I served as an occasional class parent and enjoy raising money for our booster clubs. Finally, my family and I have worked for over a decade to support and promote youth sports, particularly through Princeton Little League, with an eye towards community building. That service has been an irreplaceable gift.
The issues: I’m volunteering to serve on the board because I’d like to support our schools and community as we face difficult challenges, including: 1) the hiring of a new superintendent, 2) ensuring equity and success for all of our students and working to close the achievement and opportunity gaps, 3) fostering authentic dialogue in our schools and community around racial literacy and real-world issues, and 4) addressing projected growth in our schools and its impact on our limited community resources.
As a member of the Board, I would strive to ensure that we hire a superintendent with strong management skills and a demonstrated track record in fostering the principles of equity, access and inclusion. I’d work to support equitable policies and principles in our schools. This means every child — regardless of ability, disability, race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, income, citizenship, religion, or sexual orientation — is equipped with the tools they need to succeed and learn. I think of equity as equal access with equal outcomes. A quote by Dr. Naheed Dosani, a palliative care physician, encapsulates the difference between equality and equity: “Equality is giving everyone a shoe. Equity is giving everyone a shoe that fits.”
I would further support equity within our schools by: 1) supporting comprehensive curriculum, program and policy reviews to ensure that we are using current, balanced texts and resources and that our policies do not inadvertently adversely affect any group or class of individuals in our community; 2) ensuring that we recognize and defeat past patterns of destructive behavior especially as they relate to discipline and the unfair labeling of children based on prior conduct or unfair assumptions; 3) ensuring that our administrators and staff have the professional development and tools they need to support equity and culturally responsive teaching; and 4) measuring equity outcomes of our initiatives so that we know where we are succeeding and where we are failing. This would include measuring growth for each child because we are committed to knowing each child.
Meeting the needs of our children in the face of projected growth with limited community resources will require thoughtful collaboration with a multitude of community stakeholders. Collaboration will include things like enhanced shared services, seeking capital funding from new sources such as PILOTs shared with our town and engaging in fundraising for targeted needs. What if, for example, transportation or select facilities improvements for athletics could be funded through public-private sponsorships? Or if we had a grant to support the purchase of electric buses?
We can mobilize as a district to plan and identify needs that will require additional funding. I’d like to contribute to this effort both with my substantial experience in development and by ensuring ideas for collaboration are brought to the table and explored. I’d also like to support our new administration in their commendable efforts to continue to find operational cost savings and efficiencies.
With regard to how our schools are funded, we’ve never been fully funded by the state. Our school funding formula also fosters inequity across the state by relying heavily on local property taxes. While there is some equalizing state aid, it’s not enough. I’d like to seek legislative changes to make our school funding formula more equitable and to provide property tax relief. Public school funding in New Jersey should be elevated to a top priority.
Background: Originally I am from Clemson, South Carolina, and consider that my hometown. I studied chemical engineering at Clemson University and continued on until I received a MS in bioengineering. I worked for a number of years in the medical device industry in the Houston area while working on my law/MBA degrees in the evening.
After spending a few years at law firms in Washington, DC, we moved to Lawrenceville when I took a position at a generic drug company. I left the generic drug company to start a clinical trials service company and an intellectual property law firm. The clinical trials company was acquired, and now I am focused on the law firm. Along the way we moved into Princeton because we found we spent most of our free time in town and wanted our kids to attend the Princeton schools.
Family: My wife, Denise, is a nurse practitioner in a rheumatology practice at Capital Health. We have three children, William, Elizabeth, and Peter. They initially attended the Princeton French School before moving over to the Princeton Charter School. After PCS, they each attended PHS. William is now a junior at the University of Pennsylvania, Elizabeth is a freshman at Clemson University, and Peter is a junior at PHS.
Community involvement: My kids have been involved in track and cross-country since sixth grade. I got interested in the Princeton Board of Education when one of the cross-country coaches at PHS was not given tenure. He was a highly respected math teacher and a good role model for the kids on the team. I attended the board meeting where tenure decisions were made public. The room was filled to capacity with high school students attending to support this teacher. Boys and girls came up to the podium to speak. It was emotional listening to tearful high school boys at the podium speaking about the positive role this teacher had on them, both in class and at the track. And then the board ignored the students and let go of this respected teacher. There is something wrong with that, and I got interested in the decision making of the board.
The issues: After watching the tenure process for the math teacher, I decided to run for the board. I was elected in 2016 and spent three years on the board. I was pleased with a few outcomes I impacted, in particular the decision to ensure we added four to five classrooms to PHS. However, I was frustrated by the lack of ability to make a significant difference on the finances, generally because of a lack of creativity at the top, so in 2019 I decided not to run again.
However, this changed with the hiring of an interim superintendent and the opportunity to hire a new superintendent. Then I found that Paul Johnson and Karen Lemon were similarly dissatisfied with the district and were willing to run as a slate. If we are elected, we will focus on making the district more affordable to the residents, reducing the glaring and consistent achievement gap, and bring some much needed transparency to the operations of the board.
Background: I am a fourth generation Princetonian whose family originated from a plantation in South Carolina. I grew up on Green Street, where I am currently raising my children. I graduated from the University of Virginia with a BA in anthropology. I am 36 years old and the founder of Inspire Sports Club and the GOAT Lab, where we train and mentor Student-Athletes.
Family: My beautiful girlfriend, Alison Wall, and I have five children between us, three boys (Joshua-16, Emmet-13, Makani-8) and two girls (Maddy-15, Heidi-10) three of whom attend Princeton Public Schools. Joshua is a junior at Princeton high, while Heidi and Makani are in fifth and third grades respectively at Community Park. My girlfriend Alison is one of the area’s top makeup artists and estheticians and has her own business called A. WALL BEAUTY.
Community Involvement: I have been heavily involved in our schools and community, coaching and mentoring many of our student-athletes. My experience as a college soccer coach at Drew University as well as Rutgers-Camden University, has enabled me to help families navigate the college recruiting process. I have also coached high school sports around the Mercer county area. For the past three years I have run an after school soccer club as well as organized a holiday fundraiser in conjunction with the Community Park PTO.
Issues: As the late, great John Lewis so eloquently put it, “To get in trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble.” We are at a crossroads in our society and we must be proactive rather than reactive. It is time for a change on our school board, it is time we tackle our issues of equity/equality head on, without reserve. It is time for us to be honest with ourselves and admit we have fallen short of the promises we have made to our children in this town.
We have failed to be leaders for social justice and reform. We have failed to have open and honest dialogue with our families and our community. I am running because I believe I can be part of the necessary change that will ensure our students and families a better tomorrow. I am running because I genuinely care about the outcome of my five children, three of whom attend Princeton Public Schools, as well as all the children in our community. Most importantly I will work tirelessly until every kid and every family in our town feels like they belong. I will make sure our schools remain diverse, our town remains affordable, and there will forever be trust and transparency between the board and the public.
Background: Originally from rural Ohio, I moved to New Jersey over 25 years ago. I have a bachelor of science degree in mathematics education and an MBA. I recently retired from +30 years at AT&T where I owned the P&L (revenue of +$500M) of a large global IT organization. I was also the Diversity and Inclusion Leader for +7,000 employees implementing programs to make AT&T a more inclusive workplace.
Family: My family and I moved to Princeton 10 years ago. Prior to Princeton we lived in West Windsor. One of our sons is a Princeton resident while the other’s job has taken him to another state. The family views Princeton as our home. Our two sons graduated from high school prior to us moving to Princeton. They both went to public school K-12 as did my wife and I.
Community involvement: I have mentored/sponsored Newark students, sit on the NJ board for Junior Achievement, and volunteer delivering food for Share My Meals.
Issues: My family and I moved to Princeton because we wanted to live in a diverse community. Princeton has a reputation as a leader in education, and this was an important part of moving here. We want to grow old here and we want our children and hopefully their children to live here too.
My biggest concern is the current Board of Education leadership believes we just need consistency. I believe we need strategic and creative leadership if we want to deliver excellent education and support our community in remaining affordable. The achievement of our low-income students, black and brown students, and special needs students has stagnated. We need to focus on the success of all children, and this is not sufficiently occurring today.
48 percent of our tax dollars go towards our schools. I believe there is an opportunity to improve spending through reducing the use of consultants, leveraging the reduction in our costs associated with bonds retiring in 2022 and 2023, implementing efficiency measures (i.e. I would look to move some of our IT resources to the cloud and consider shared services), and going after public and private partnerships. This will allow us to address not only the opportunity gap of our students but ensure we can meet critical capacity and facility needs, while working to hold the line on our taxes.
Along with Paul Johnson and Bill Hare, I believe we can regain our reputation for providing excellence in education for all students, in a diverse community while doing so in an affordable manner. This must be done by including the voices of our teachers, families, and community members. We will push for transparency as the board makes decisions on spending your tax dollars. We know that building community trust is critical in all working together for our students.
Michele Tuck Ponder
Background: I was born in New York City in 1958 and grew up in Teaneck, Bergen County, where I was one of the first children in America to be bussed to integrate the public schools in my town. After graduating from Teaneck High School, I attended Northwestern University, earning a degree in journalism, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where I earned a law degree in 1983.
Currently, I am executive director of Destination Imagination, Incorporated, a global creative problem solving program for children, headquartered in Cherry Hill. I am a former mayor of Princeton Township, have served as executive director of the Women’s Fund of New Jersey, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Delaware-Raritan, Inc., interim executive director of the YWCA of Eastern Union County, assistant counsel to Governor Jim Florio, assistant director of the New Jersey Division on Women and New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, and congressional aide to former US Representative Louis Stokes and the late US Senator Frank Lautenberg. I was also a Community Builder Fellow with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development in Camden, and have served as a lecturer at Princeton, the College of New Jersey and Rutgers Universities.
In 1991, I purchased a home at Griggs Farm in order to live closer to my job in Trenton.
Family: Attorney/artist/activist Rhinold Lamar Ponder, is my husband. We have two children: Jamaica, age 21 (PHS ‘17) graduate, is a senior at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, who attended Community Park School and John Witherspoon Middle School. William, age 13, is an eighth grader at Princeton Unified Middle School who attended CP and Joseph Cappello School.
Community involvement: I served for six years on the Princeton Township Committee (1994-1999), including three years as mayor. I also served four years as the chair of the Princeton Township Democratic Municipal Committee. I am a member of the Princeton United Methodist Church, and served as the co-chair of its governing body, the administrative board.
I am past immediate board chair of the United Front Against Riverblindness, a global NGO, and former secretary of the board of Morven Museum and Gardens. For four years, I co-hosted “Reed and Ponder,” a public affairs program on Princeton TV30. I served on numerous boards including the Princeton YWCA, Girl Scouts of Delaware-Raritan, New Jersey After 3, the Center for Non-Profits, and co-chaired the NJ Food Marketing Task Force.
In Princeton Public Schools, I have been a class parent and presented several programs on Black History in my children’s classrooms, including a Kwanzaa Celebration and a lesson on “Black Lives Matter”. I have been a fundraiser for the PHS Girls Basketball Team and served on the Superintendent’s “Athletics 2.0” Advisory Committee.
Starting as a Brownie Girl Scout, community service has always been a passion of mine. I can’t remember a time that I didn’t serve on Student Council, join a service sorority, volunteer to clean up my neighborhood, or help feed people on Thanksgiving or make the world a better place in some way. It is a driving force in my life.
The issues: There are few more important duties of a community than ensuring that ALL children are provided with the best education possible. I am running for re-election to the Princeton Board of Education because of my commitment to equity in Princeton Public Schools. Good intentions and mission statements have proven to be ineffective in moving PPS to correct the inequities in our district. For the past three years, I have used my voice and my vote on the Board of Education to highlight and address issues of inequity in our schools.
My priorities are: Equity AND Excellence: I will continue to address systemic and institutional racism in the district, particularly in the areas of discipline, special education classifications, hiring, and academic achievement. PPS must have a coordinated response to inequity in our schools with a focus on measuring outcomes and accountability in order to provide an excellent education for all.
Facilities: Our schools are crowded and predicted to become more congested in the near future. As a former elected official, I have experience in feasibility studies, design, and financing public buildings. I am committed to working to ensure that we have adequate and appropriate facilities to support our educational mission, without unduly burdening taxpayers.
Budget and Safety: I am committed to ensuring a safe and effective teaching environment for our children, teachers and staff. Covid-19 presents significant challenges for this environment with resulting budget impacts for the foreseeable future. We need to make the necessary investments to ensure that ALL of our children have the resources needed for remote learning, that our teachers have the training they need to provide excellent education whether in the classroom or via technology, and that when students and faculty and staff are present, they are safe. I am particularly concerned that our budgetary decisions do not disproportionately impact our most vulnerable students.
Equipping our students for the emerging future of Work: As the CEO of a global education company, I know how important it is to ensure that our students learn 21st Century skills to collaborate, think critically, be creative and communicate. As the world changes before our eyes, it is our job not only to provide our kids with the highest level of subject matter learning, but also with the tools to be able to implement those skills effectively, not only in school or the workplace, but in life.