BRIDGEWATER, NJ - He and his wife try to instill a sense of volunteerism in their children, and now Bridgewater resident Steven Singer is running for one of three open seats on the board of education to represent Bridgewater.
“Naturally, we try to lead by example,” he said. “Just as my children are joining the larger community of students as they go through the upper grades in the district, I hope to connect with more parents, educators and administrators as a member of the board of education.”
Singer said he and his wife moved to Bridgewater, near Adamsville Primary School, 16 years ago.
“We were attracted to the area for the school district’s impressive reputation, the diversity of the township and the convenient location as a hub between the different branches of our family,” he said.
Singer said he has served as treasurer for the Adamsville PTO for the past four years, worked on the district’s strategic plan steering committee, volunteered for actions within the school district and was appointed to a township committee tasked with setting the vision for recently purchased open space.
Outside of his volunteer work for the district, Singer is an attorney, presently serving as managing corporate counsel at Foster Wheeler, Inc., in Hampton. He has a law degree from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City, a Masters in Business Administration from the Graduate School of Management at Rutgers University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Rutgers University.
One of the issues affecting students and families has been homework, and, as a father of two kids in the district, Singer said, he has seen the different homework scenarios.
“One of my daughters has worked on homework well past her normal bed time on too many nights, and, consequently, has woken up sluggish the next morning,” he said. “On the other hand, I have questioned whether my younger child might benefit from the extra practice that comes with additional homework assignments.”
Singer said it is important to find the right balance.
“We need to ensure there is consistency in the assignment of homework and how that work is utilized by teachers,” he said. “As every student learns differently, we need to give our teachers the freedom to assign homework to the students in a way that benefits their learning while also caring for students’ overall well-being.”
With regard to wellness, Singer said communication is key.
“Students need to be encouraged to talk to their parents, teachers and guidance counselors about their stresses, including schoolwork and social pressures and interactions, before they become overwhelmed,” he said. “District-run workshops and events, like last year’s viewing of ‘Angst,’ are a great way to engage parents, students and the community at large.”
“Working together,” he added, “we can all learn better ways to cope with the stresses of daily life.”
Communication is also vital to district morale, Singer said. First, he said, they all need to make sure the teachers know how much they are valued.
“We must let them know we see the passion they bring to their work every day, the support they give to our children in good times and bad and the impact they have on our children, both in the short term and the long run,” he said.
In addition, Singer said, it must be clear that the board welcomes the opinions and feedback of educators in the decision-making process.
The same, Singer said, goes for students.
“We are routinely impressed at their wonderful work and achievements,” he said. “By being more engaged with students and staff, and attending district events, we can strengthen our relationship and promote greater collaboration.”
Budgeting, Singer acknowledged, is also a difficult prospect.
“Funding the permanent allocations is integral to ensuring technology, curriculum and facilities will not be sacrificed in the name of budget tightening,” he said. “While there will always be challenges in making sure that the financial resources are sufficient in keeping with our vision for the district, I am confident we can use our collective knowledge to build a plan that is financially reasonable for the district as well as the residents.”
Singer said the district has to look at new avenues of revenue and review expenditures with a critical eye.
“We need to explore opportunities to join with similarly situated organizations and governmental entities in order to capture available savings,” he said.
When he joined the PTO, Singer said, his first role was reporting on board of education meetings. He has become a regular attendee of the meetings since, and, as treasurer, he has had the pleasure of serving parents, students and educators.
“We have had some wonderful times at Adamsville and Hillside, and look forward to more to come,” he said.