BLOOMFIELD, NJ - Ellen Rogers is currently the Vice President of Bloomfield BOE. She was first elected to the board in 2014. Rogers and her husband, a New Orleans, LA native, have two children. They attended Watsessing Elementary School and graduated from Bloomfield High. Rogers has been a resident of Bloomfield since she was 8 months old and spent her childhood on the Southside. Rogers was a Bloomfield HS cheerleader and her favorite song the year she graduated was ‘Rock the Boat’ by The Hues Corporation.
TAPinto Bloomfield interviewed Ellen Rogers August 25.
TAP: What is one thing the voters would be surprised to learn about you?
ER: My family is as diverse as Bloomfield. We are an inter-racial marriage. My is husband is African-American from New Orleans.
TAP: What is the No. 1 reason you decided to run again for another 3 year term seat on the Board of Education?
ER: It’s been exciting that we’ve met the benchmarks originally set forth. The current board has a lot of successes coming to fruition. I am pleased with the administration and have enjoyed working with them. It has been an educational experience. I served on the ‘negotiations committee’ working on teachers contracts and it was an enjoyable experience.
TAP: How do you think being a parent children in the district will be a benefit to you on the board?
ER: Being familiar with the dynamics of our town, the diversity, and the economic backgrounds is a benefit. First hand, I’ve seen what the teacher pool is like. I have always felt we have very good teachers in our district.
TAP: As a citizen and homeowner, what do you think is the greatest asset of the Township of Bloomfield?
ER: Even though people struggle with the taxes being high, if you are choosing to live in Essex. Bloomfield taxes are more reasonable than some of the neighboring towns. I am a huge fan of people who are recent immigrants to Bloomfield and those who have lived here for generations…a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds.
TAP: As a citizen, what has been your biggest contribution to the Township/Community?
ER: I was always one of the recreation/sports moms. My son participated in the William Foley Football League and my daughter was a cheerleader. My platform last election was I‘m still cheering for this town.
TAP: What is the No. 1 quality that has you stand out from the other four candidates? Please complete the statement: I am the only candidate who….
ER: As far as I know I am the only candidate who has a background working in mental health. It gives me insight as far as things HIB: Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying. I work alongside social workers in a behavioral health program. I see both sides of the student. There is the academic side and psychological side.
TAP: Bloomfield has seen a great deal of residential development in the last several years. The Parkway Lofts, the Green, Avalon, and development on the old Hartz-Mountain property have brought hundreds of new residents to town. Another new building is being built on the Ferrand Street parking lot. How should the district plan Bloomfield Schools plan for the potential increase in enrollment from these and other potential developments?
ER: We were starting to do some demographic studies. One of the ideas that has been thrown out is to possibly move the 6th graders out of the elementary schools or open an additional middle school. It would be contingent on the number of new students. Some of our grade schools are less crowded than others. I think it is a good idea to move the sixth grades, to become part of the middle school. I would also support adding modulars to our schools vs. trailers.
TAP: What one idea do you have to increase flow of information from the District to the community, especially residents without children in school, and flow of ideas/feedback from the community back to the District?
ER: As far as the voters without children in the system, I would hope they are aware of our website, an area of communication. Maybe they could present their ideas at a board meeting. I’ve always felt your town’s property value is directly connected with the success of your school system.
TAP: As an incumbent what do you think is the No. 1 challenge facing the school District in the next 3 years?
ER: Certainly the student population growth potential; continuing of course with initiatives that infuse technology with curriculum. STEM and STEAM programs and also keeping in mind the non-English speaking students and their parent. Look at how can we make their transition easier. This is a group we certainly need to be concerned with.
TAP: Bloomfield School District passed a “Safe Routes to School” resolution which made the Board and citizens more aware of the importance of safety for students. The Bloomfield Health Department is also creating “Travel Plans” with funding from Easy Ride. What one specific idea do you have to encourage more students to bike and walk to school.
ER: The overall message is your overall fitness. Biking and walking promotes overall fitness for the students which includes both their physical and emotional health. Also it’s about going green… sustainability.
TAP: Where do you stand re: the importance of athletics extra-curricular activities in the overall school curriculum and? Very Important, Somewhat Important, Not Important. Why?
ER: Very important: I think it’s obvious that school is the place for these things to be introduced and ‘cultured’ so that students are exposed to and can grow from these activities; to get student to be well-rounded.
TAP: A friend of the Bloomfield district makes a $1M donation and gives you 100% sole discretion to allocate the money to one project or educational area in the 2017-18 school year. How will you spend the $?
ER: I am a person who does not put all my eggs in one basket so I am going to break it down into a few areas. They are: Technology; our on-going facilities and infrastructure repair; also school security.
TAP: What book are you currently reading or what TV series are you following?
ER: I am watching Game of Thrones. I am a fitness instructor who teaches kick-boxing; now when I start to read I fall asleep. (Laughter)
TAP: Who was your favorite teacher and why was he/she your favorite?
ER: I had a history teacher, Dr. Krantz at the Bloomfield High. His stories were amazing and his take on events in history were enlightening and engaging. He was a stickler for learning how to write a term paper so we came out of his class with skills that benefitted our future education. Our graduation class was close to 800.
TAPinto: What is your campaign slogan?
ER: “Keep Excellent Education Programs”
TAP: What is the best way for the Bloomfield voters to reach you?
ER: I plan to be creating a page on social media
TAP: Anything you would like to say in closing to the Bloomfield voters?
ER: Simply. Like anytime you start a new job it takes an initial period to learn the ropes. I feel that I am at the point now where I’m past my preliminary stage. I’ve learned the best way to be an effective board member. Come out for November’s election.