A Conversation with Westfield Board of Education VP Rosanne Kurstedt

May 3, 2014 at 1:33 PM

WESTFIELD, NJ – Rosanne Kurstedt, 47, is serving her first term on the Westfield Board of Education. While she hasn’t decided whether she will run again when her term expires, her passion for her work is evident. Kurstedt is a published author of children’s and professional books and a longtime member of the Westfield Writer’s Workshop. Sundays are her days to relax and read, grade student papers and walk with her dog to friends’ homes. Sunday is also game night with her family.  Sorry!, Kings in the Corner and Hearts are their favorites.

The Alternative Press: Tell us about your family.

Kurstedt: I have two boys 13 and 15, a Havanese named Dorothy and a wonderful husband, David.

Sign Up for E-News

TAP: Where were you born and where did you grow up?

Kurstedt: I grew up in New York and lived in the city after graduating from college. I moved to Hong Kong with my husband and older son (my younger son wasn’t born yet) where we lived for about three and a half years. When we returned from Hong Kong we wanted to buy a house. Since my husband worked near Penn Station we wanted to live in an area that had trains into Penn Station, which meant New Jersey or Long Island. We didn’t want to live in Long Island, so we started looking in New Jersey. We didn’t really know much about New Jersey, so we looked at many towns. Westfield rose to the top of our list because of the downtown and the picturesque feeling.

TAP:  Where were you schooled?

Kurstedt: Tufts University for my undergraduate degree and Fordham University for my graduate work.  I am an adjunct professor at Fordham University teaching graduate-level courses in Literacy Education and William Patterson College teaching undergraduate courses for students preparing to teach in secondary education and basic reading courses for students who need to catch up.

 TAP: How did you come to run for election for the Westfield Board of Education?

Kurstedt: My background is in education. People often suggested I run for the school board and four years ago seemed like the right time. My kids were in a good place and my work was in a good place so I thought I’d have the time to dedicate to it. 

TAP: What do you see as your greatest accomplishment on the school board?   

Kurstedt:  Since the board is a unit, I don’t really think it’s fair to say anything has been “my” accomplishment. With that said, I’m most proud of the work the board and district have done with regards to upgrading our facilities, investing in technology and introducing and supporting the teachers in the implementation of Reading and Writers Workshop in the elementary grades.

TAP: What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Westfield schools in the coming year? 

Kurstedt: The most pressing challenge facing the district is PARCC, the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers exams that will replace the NJASK and HSPA tests. This year some classes piloted the completely on-line exam. Our kids are pretty savvy on the computer but some might find it difficult because they are not accustomed to taking tests on the computer. Our teachers are all working to ensure that students are prepared and comfortable with the new test and platform. In addition, the district has been getting the infrastructure in place and the devices ready. This is all in line with the Common Core, in theory a set of national standards.

TAP: What is your favorite place in town to go with your family?

Kurstedt: Yapple. We like to walk there when the weather is nice.

TAP: Which is your favorite of your published works? 

Kurstedt:  I’ve only published one picture book, "And I Thought About You," so that’s my favorite children’s book.  As for professional books, "Teaching Writing With Picture Books as Models" is my favorite because it was my first, and the sales exceeded everyone’s expectations.

TAP: Do you have any additional books in the works?  Can you share what they are about?

Kurstedt: I have quite a few children’s books in the works. They are mostly about childhood quirks and family traditions or routines.

TAP: Do you have any hobbies?

Kurstedt: I like to read, play tennis and ski.  I don’t do any as much as I would like.

TAP: What do you feel that Westfield is doing right that other towns should emulate?

Kurstedt: I think other towns might want to emulate some of what our library does. The kids’ programming and the adult programming are wonderful. Whenever I go to the library, it’s bustling with kids and adults alike. I also think that other towns could emulate our tradition of giving the “apple” to children on their first day of kindergarten. Wearing it at graduation from high school it is a great tradition.

TAP: Is there anything else you would like to share?

Kurstedt: I think Westfield is a great place to live. The people are smart and interesting and there are just so many opportunities for kids to find their passion and develop into well-rounded caring citizens. 

Editor’s Note: “A Conversation with …” is a monthly series of question and answer articles with Westfield people.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News


36-Year-Old Man Shot to Death in Plainfield

December 9, 2016

PLAINFIELD, NJ - A fatal shooting that took place in Plainfield Thursday morning (Dec.8th) is under investigation, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Friday.

The victim has been identified as 36-year-old Ronnell Harrison of Plainfield.

Shortly before 5:45 a.m. Thursday, Plainfield Police Division patrol units responded to the 700 block of West 4th ...

Important Information from the Westfield Board of Health

December 7, 2016

To the Editor:

The Westfield Board of Health met on Dec. 5.

The seasonal influenza vaccination program is continuing. A pediatric flu clinic will be held on Friday, Dec. 9, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Municipal Building. All children who attend preschool must be vaccinated. A simple vaccination can prevent the flu and protect the children. It is best to ...

Upcoming Events


Fri, December 9, 5:00 PM

NosVino, Westfield

Free Scotch Tasting: Glencadam

Food & Drink

Fri, December 9, 7:30 PM

Galeria West Art & Music Gallery, Westfield

Flamenco Nights @ Galeria West Holiday Music & ...

Arts & Entertainment

Westfield Police Blotter: Drug-Related Arrests, DWIs & More

December 7, 2016

November 30, 2016 10:40 a.m.

Officer O’Holla arrested Honnie Graham, age 31, of Plainfield at the Middlesex County Jail for an ATS warrant in the amount of $2,500 out of this jurisdiction.

December 1, 2016 11:21 p.m.

Officer Bagan and Natale arrested Amanda Oskierko, age 26, of Maxim Court, Jackson, NJ, for driving while intoxicated pursuant to a motor vehicle stop in the area of ...

Wardlaw-Hartridge Students Collect Toys for Autistic Children

December 9, 2016

Eighth grade students at The Wardlaw-Hartridge School in Edison visit the Giving Tree, from which they selected ornaments with gift suggestions for autistic children attending the Crossroads School in Westfield. The gifts will be delivered to the school for autistic children next week. 


Westfield Area YMCA is Here to Help You Make and Keep Your New Year's Resolutions

It’s that time of year again when millions of Americans are thinking of making New Year’s Resolutions.  The question is…will they keep them?  Studies reveal that only 10% of Americans keep their resolutions for an entire year.  You can change that statistic! 

You can become more active. The hardest thing to do is to get started.  Once started, make ...

Give With Your Heart ... But Use Your Head

It is that most wonderful time of the year when every day becomes a mad scramble to attend parties, meet family obligations, buy gifts and, in between, get work done. The holiday season engenders feelings of nostalgia, hope and gratitude. And, with that, we spend incredible sums of money, sometimes without thinking. Generosity is a virtue, so here are some basic tips on giving to ...

‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales' Captures Old-Fashioned Nostalgia at Shakespeare Theatre

MADISON, NJ – It’s clear the Welsh love to sing as the evening moves on with relatives gathering for Christmas dinner at the Thomas home in Wales.

The play opens with three children and then a chorus singing “In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,” a melancholy tune that conjures visions of Swansea, a village in Wales,  with “fallen snow on ...

Lindabury Hosts Fall Meeting of International Network of Law Firms

The law firm of Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper, P.C., recently played host to the Fall meeting of LEGUS, is an international network of high quality mid-sized law firms located across the globe.  More than 60 firms from across the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East sent senior level representatives to the two-day meeting held at the W Hotel in Hoboken.   ...

Beckerman’s Theory of Everything

Any armchair theoretical physicist knows that Stephen Hawking has pursued a lifelong quest to come up with a Theory of Everything. This all-encompassing theory would tie together general relativity (large scale and high mass galaxies, stars, etc), quantum theory (quantum mechanics, quarks, atoms, subatomic particles), and Newtonian physics (gravity on small bodies, gas laws, electromagnetism) to ...

Family Portraits After the Death of a Family Member

One of the gifts of working in the field of children’s grief support is the support I receive from my family and friends. They always have their eyes peeled for interesting articles that relate to grief and loss. Usually they send the articles to me with a kind note, like “this made me think of you” or “thought you’d be interested in this!”

A few days ago my ...

Female Dog Found in Roselle

This female dog was found at 315 East 1st Ave. in Roselle.  She is currently at the Roselle Police Headquarters. If this is your pet or you know the owner call the Roselle Police at 908-245- 2000. 

Holy Trinity School Spotlight - Kindergarten

At Holy Trinity School, Kindergarten is cool!  In Kindergarten, students learn the fundamental skills necessary to thrive in a school environment. The Holy Trinity Kindergarten is a full-day, faith-based program focused on reading readiness, language development, math, and science concepts.   Students also take part in several special classes each week that include music, library, ...

GWACC (Greater Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce) Invites the Chamber and Community Members to Enjoy a Trip to Pompeii & the Amalfi Coast

GWACC has announced today that it will be visiting irresistible Southern Italy & Amalfi Coast, departing Oct. 11, 2017 and is inviting chamber members, and family and friends of chamber members to join them on this once in a lifetime experience.

Rich in culture and stunning scenery, irresistible Southern Italy is the setting for this breathtaking journey. Enjoy an eight day ...

Tamaques Elementary Launches New 'Makerspace' Initiative

With the objective of fostering students' critical thinking, imagination and creativity, Westfield Public School librarian Christine Pitarresi has spearheaded a new program at Tamaques Elementary, called "Makerspace." Observing current trends and needs for growing minds, Ms. Pitarresi enthusiastically noted, "We used to be a society of makers, now we are ...

Boy Scouts Honor TAPinto Founder for Service

December 9, 2016

BRIDGEWATER NJ — The Patriots Path Council of the Boy Scouts of America honored TAPinto founder and publisher Mike Shapiro on Wednesday at its 2016 Toast to Scouting Awards Dinner at the Raritan Valley Country Club.  Shapiro was one of five recipients.

The Patriots Path Council, which serves Central and Northern New Jersey, presents the award to those who exemplify in their daily ...