BRIDGEWATER, NJ - She enjoys being part of the process to provide opportunities for the Bridgewater-Raritan students, and now current board of education president Jill Gladstone is running for another term on the board.
Gladstone is running for one of three open three-year seats on the board of education representing Bridgewater.
“I feel that good work has been done as I have worked alongside my fellow board of education members and the administration to keep our school district great, and strive to make it even greater,” she said.
Gladstone has lived in Bridgewater for more than 24 years with her husband and three sons, two of whom are Bridgewater-Raritan graduates and one who is in 11th grade.
A member of the board since 2007, and board president now for three years, she served on various district committees and organizations, as well as other education advocacy groups, before joining the board 12 years ago.
Outside of the board, Gladstone graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Tulane University, and spent many years in sales and marketing, first in the industrial packaging industry and then in wholesale specialty food and candy.
Gladstone said there are many things that make Bridgewater a great place to live.
“I love its great central location, many convenient amenities, beautiful parks and the diversity of its residents,” she said. “Of course, our outstanding school district is way up there too.”
Gladstone said she believes that staff morale is one of the most important, if not the most important, part of a successful school district.
“You can have all the financial resources in the world, a brand new building in which to work, a well-written trove of curricula to teach and other wonderful things, but low morale among teachers can be detrimental to a district and, ultimately, student achievement in many ways,” she said.
Student morale is just as critical, Gladstone said, because they want the kids to be happy, energized, ready to learn and kind to each other.
“I believe the board should do everything it can to show staff and students that we are all partners and that their voices matter,” she said. “Striving to communicate more effectively and engaging everyone so they feel comfortable sharing the good as well as the bad is critical.”
Gladstone said it is important to be responsive to staff and student comments, feelings, requests and inquiries.
“I would like the board to work with administrators to initiate a new positive character program, district-wide, which would include a ‘campaign,’ so to speak, that fosters respect and positivity among our school community,” she said.
Also having a positive effect on students, Gladstone said, is the new homework policy adopted, and times allowed for homework each day.
“I strongly support having multiple evaluations during the year as next steps to assess how these changes are being implemented and enforced, but, more importantly, to find out how the new policy and regulations have impacted students and staff, either positively or negatively,” she said.
“Listening to all stakeholders moving forward is critical and, if necessary, making adjustments to policy that maintains awareness of students’ well-being and time for outside activities without restricting our educators’ professional judgment.”
Gladstone said she believes they have moved in the right direction, and can now put more attention on other factors revolving around health and wellness.
Also important in the district, Gladstone said, is of course the budget and how the money is spent to educate the students. She said it is important that board members study the administration’s budget each year, and work on thinking out of the box to leverage financial resources.
“Costs are constantly rising, buildings are getting older and require maintenance, programs need to be evaluated to be kept state-of-the-art and the increased use of technology calls for constant renewal of hardware and software,” she said.
Two years ago, Gladstone said, she supported the board’s commitment to fund curriculum, technology and facilities, and they have already reached a goal of fully funding two of those through the use of banked cap funds.
“The theory is that the funding will stay the same in the budget each year so that the district is prepared to execute recommendations from our long-term planning in those areas,” she said. “I’m very pleased that we’ve made great strides here.”
Gladstone said she is proud of the work that has been done, and looks forward to continuing.
“I enjoy being part of the process that provides opportunities for students to explore and hopefully find success in academics, athletics, performing arts and other extracurricular activities,” she said. “It’s been a pleasure representing the constituents of Bridgewater these past 12-plus years, and I would be honored to serve another term.”