As a parent of two children in Berkeley Heights I am proud to support Angela Penna for Berkeley Heights Board of Education.  Having worked with Angela on the Curriculum Liaison Committee for the last few years I have come to know her as a person who cares deeply about children in our community and is willing to roll up her sleeves and get things done.  When I first got to know Angela last year I discovered her deep commitment to ensuring all students receive the support and attention they need.  It was through these conversations I realized the extent to which she has persevered, not just for the sake of her own son but for the benefit of all children in our district.  

A person like Angela to me is a gift for our community as she exhibits a level of selflessness that is rare.  I know this because when I talk with Angela she always starts our conversation by asking the same question: How are your kids?  But Berkeley Heights is blessed to be home to countless men and women willing to donate their time, resources and energy toward the safety, achievement, enjoyment and overall wellbeing of our children.  So what sets Angela apart from countless other tireless volunteers in our community?  To answer that question you need to look at the basis of her motivation which I believe is deeply rooted in advocacy.  

I believe student advocacy is the unique ingredient that makes Angela most qualified and able to navigate the complex challenges facing our students, teachers and families because she demonstrates a willingness to understand different sides of a problem and get a grasp on the origins of challenges so that we as a community can push to find reliable and sustainable solutions.  To put it simply, Angela doesn’t accept the status quo if it’s not working and our town needs a person like that to take a lead.  We need someone who can bring us forward.  

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As a steward of tax payer funds members of the Board of Education must be level headed, fiscally concerned and self-reflective while having a demonstrated commitment to making decisions that are humble and honorable.  By forging a new path for all students but particularly for those with exceptional needs Angela helped change our district for the better and all families are benefiting.  She has left her mark serving as PTO President in multiple school/district roles for over a decade and she is showing no sign of slowing down.  To meet and talk with Angela is humbling and inspiring.  But as a colleague who has worked beside her and knows her first hand I have observed she is not always outwardly vocal as I believe her inclination is to listen.  

To summarize my letter, I would characterize Angela as a hard worker that flies somewhat under the radar, sharing her opinions when useful and appropriate.  To this end I know first-hand and from hearing from others who have worked with her that her judgment is careful and sound.  As a person who will be called on to make decisions in the best interest of our children this quality should be an absolute necessity.  But for a candidate to be someone who will bring our district to the next level and lead boldly, it’s Angela’s passion and enthusiasm that sets her apart.  While there are few residents that can match Angela’s experience and proven commitment to our schools, I do not believe there are any candidates that can match her passion and drive.  We need these qualities to bring us forward and ensure the needs of our students are always considered first.