Susan Poage is a dedicated 1st grade teacher at the Mary Kay McMillin Early Childhood Center who strives to instill positive values and lifelong lessons into her students’ lives. I have witnessed this unwavering commitment first hand when I worked with her from 2006-2008 on a special grant funded by the Berkeley Heights Education Foundation (BHEF), an organization I was proud to serve on for many years. I offered to champion a project, inspired by Susan and coordinated with Mary Kay McMillin, the beloved principal of the former Early Childhood Center at Hamilton Terrace School, where together, we brought Susan’s vision for an Outdoor Classroom to fruition. Known for her innovative teaching techniques, she uses the amphitheater as a unique learning center to enhance the science and nature curriculum while providing meaningful, hands-on experiences for her students. Her accomplishments in the classroom—both indoors and out— led Susan to receive the coveted Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematical and Science Teaching in 2008, presented to her by President Barrack Obama at a White House ceremony.
Throughout my tenure on the BHEF, I admired Susan’s willingness to participate in community-wide functions outside the classroom. She volunteered year-after-year to play in the Faculty Basketball Fundraisers and acted in the “From the Page to the Stage” theatrical productions where students wrote plays that teachers and community members directed and acted in. Susan’s enthusiasm was contagious as her students, their parents and many of her other fans cheered her on.
When Susan was running and successfully elected to the Berkeley Heights Township Council in 2017, I became involved because of her commitment and passion to help others in our community. With her experience for writing grant applications and acquiring BHEF funding to improve her classroom experiences, Susan took her knowledge to the next level by creating a Berkeley Heights Grants Committee. Once again, she was successful at obtaining funding—but this time to reduce taxpayer burden on all residents—by leveraging available grants in the county, state, federal and other sources.
While sitting in the audience at Town Council meetings, I feel Susan’s passion as she strives to move our town forward by responsibly researching and supporting town improvements with minimal impact on our taxes, investigating shared service opportunities with surrounding towns and by promoting programs that help everyone in Berkeley Heights feel accepted and included.
I have already cast my vote for Susan Poage—and her running mate, Bret Sayre—and I encourage everyone to join me, so she can continue to serve the residents of Berkeley Heights with the same dedication and enthusiasm she conveys to her students in the classroom and online every day.