CAMDEN, NJ — Troy Still, a lifelong Camden resident, wanted to help make a difference for city students.
So when the Camden City School District sought applications earlier this year for two vacancies on the advisory board, he saw that chance.
Still was sworn in earlier this week as a board member, appointed to a seat that has been vacant since last fall due to resignations.
He will serve the remainder of a term that expires at the end of 2019. The seat is one of three up for election in November. Nine candidates, including Still, previously filed to run for three-year terms.
It is a job overseeing a $365 million budget, 18 schools, 6,800 students and a faculty of nearly 1,000 professionals.
“I’m just grateful for this opportunity to be able to sit on this board, be a leader, and be effective for my community in the City of Camden,” said Still, 32, at the start of the August advisory board meeting.
Still received a notice in late June that he was appointed to the board, after going through interview rounds. He recalls being told during that process a month earlier that more than 30 residents had applied and were brought in for interviews.
“I was welcomed. I had a chance to attend several (professional development dates), sit in on several meetings, also attend a board retreat,” he said after Tuesday’s meeting. “And it’s been quite an experience the first two months.”
Still, who could not actively engage in board meetings until the swearing in, said he’s been able to learn about “various aspects of the district” including school entities and how policies apply.
He has worked in the short time to take in as much knowledge as possible to be prepared for different issues that may arise.
With this opportunity, he said, feels an obligation “right now” to the residents to have an impact.
“I feel like this is kind of my showcase or trial period, and I plan on blowing it out of the water,” he said.
Currently the Dean of Culture for Mastery Charter Schools in Camden, Still has been in education for five years at the administrative level. He plans on putting that experience to direct use in his new, expanded role in serving city children.
Fellow advisory board members offered words of encouragement during the meeting.
Wasim Muhammad said that the group appreciates Still’s presence on the board, as well as the one he has already had in the community.
“I think it’s a great example that you’re going to become to young men and young women in our community and school district, and I wish you great success,” Muhammad said across the auditorium stage at Davis Elementary School.
In his later comments, Still expressed a similar sentiment.
“I think it’s important that we have young and up-and-coming leaders that stick into these positions,” he told TAPinto Camden. “A lot of times we have people who come and speak on issues and say we want to make a difference, and I believe people do want to make a difference. But it takes courage and guts to step up, apply, and start doing the work.”
There’s two types of people in the world, Still said, talkers and doers. He said he falls in the latter category.
“I never wanted to be a person who just talked about something but never made the initiative to actually step up and do something about it,” he said. “That’s what I believe I’m doing right now.”
“I’ve lived here all my life, so I’m familiar with a lot of people in the district, people who have taught me, people who I grew up around. I have family that have worked in the district, so I’m familiar with the city, how it operates, the culture, and the heartbeat of what the community is saying and what it wants.”