1. Why are you running for the Board of Education? If elected, what will be your priorities?
Hillside children matter. Children are the most vulnerable population. I want to continue to be a powerful voice for the children of Hillside and advocate and fight to ensure they are afforded an efficient and equitable education. As former board president, I was able to increase academic achievement by developing dual enrollment programs at NJIT and Union County College. I believe our students should be equipped with the adequate educational tools to prepare them for the 21st century. I am compelled to tirelessly fight to ensure that taxpayers actual see a return on their investment by being fiscal responsible for the school budget.
2.Is there a particular issue that motivates you to serve on the board of education?
It is pertinent that students, parents and teachers believe that their concerns are being heard. The lack of constant growth within in the school district motivates me because I know we have the potential to becoming a “blue ribbon” school district.
3. What particular experiences or skills have prepared you to serve as a board member?
As the former board president and current board member, I attended required trainings and workshops to become an effective board member. I am on the Union County Educational Commission of Services Board of Education. Having over 25 years of experience as a board member and currently the Director of Outreach services for SYSTAS 4 SYSTAS, Inc., 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to empowering, motivating, and educating youth to take control of their own destiny has eminently prepared me to serve on the board of education.
4. What is the role of schools in teaching children about topics such as: sex education, cyber-safety, AIDS, wellness, bullying?
For eight years, I was the Assistant Track for Hillside High track coach before transitioning into the role of board member. I am a former Democrat committee district leader for Ward 2. During Hurricane Katrina, I was the catalyst to urge the Hillside Food Bank to supply our residents with food and water. I am on the executive board of the Hillside Pop Warner serving as the Scholar Chairperson. I have collaborated with the Hillside Recreation department providing weekly mentorship and life skill workshops to young girls. Over past 5 years, I hosted the Prom Princess Project donating free dresses and gowns to Hillside students attending eight-grade social, senior prom, military ball as well as graduation. I have always been genuine passionate supporter of all Hillside students and activities.
5. What are your thoughts on your school district's programs for special education students, English Language Learners (ELL), and gifted students?
Under my leadership as the board president, the Hillside School District progressed forward. Educationally, student academic achievement increased on the PARCC assessment, dual enrollment in local colleges and universities was established, an increased graduation, increased district wide stem programming and funding, and improved school facilities (installation of new playground, new turf Woodfield stadium, gym renovation.
6. What differentiates you from the other candidates and/or board members?
I have the most experience amongst my opponents as an effective board member. I also was former BOE employee so I know first -hand how the district functions. I am truly well respected with the community by the student body. I have a stellar reputation in Hillside. I have always and will continue to fight for the betterment our students. Hillside children genuinely matter to me and I am committed to elevating them to the next level. My work speaks for me.
7. What issues do you believe your district needs to address in its academic program and offerings? What changes would you recommend?
The district needs to focus more on mental health issues such as suicide, depression, and conflict resolution. In my professional career, unfortunately I had encounters with Hillside students who contemplated suicide. Mental illness is serious disease that is rapidly affecting our students. A district -wide trainings focusing on signs of mental illness should be incorporated for students.
In order to increase student achievement, clear goals for student learning must be provided. Teachers must devise lesson plans and differentiate instruction based on the individual needs of the students in their classrooms. Teachers must know the expectations of the district and state and implement creative ways to increase student achievement. Teachers must be provided the training, guidance to ensure their students have the skills and knowledge needed to e successful. The entire school district must be held accountable for the progress of all students.
Editor's Note: All candidates were provided the same questions and opportunity to respond. We are publishing all responses received by the established deadline as submitted by the candidates in their entirety.