This article has been published as part of a series of profiles on Livingston Board of Education Candidates. All candidates will be featured individually during the week leading up to the November 2019 election.
LIVINGSTON, NJ – Meet Samantha Messer, a six-year Livingston resident running as the only incumbent in the upcoming Livingston Board of Education election on Nov. 5.
Sam Messer, a product of West Essex Regional Public Schools, has earned a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master of Arts degree in Secondary Social Studies Education from NYU, a Master of Education degree in Education Policy & Management from Harvard University and a Certificate in Instructional Technology from Columbia University. She is currently employed as Chief of Staff for Uncommon Schools North Star Academy in Newark.
Messer’s husband, Alan Glazer, holds BA and Juris Doctor degrees from Washington University in St. Louis as well as a Master of Public Administration degree from Brown University. They are currently raising their children Andie Glazer (6) and Max Glazer (4), in Livingston.
Q: Why are you running for board of education? (Again, if incumbent?)
A: I have learned a great deal during my first term on the board and hope to continue to contribute to Livingston Public Schools for a second term. I am a career educator. I have built my career in education because, in the words of Nelson Mandela, I truly believe “Education is the most powerful tool we have to change the world.” I also believe that, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I would like to continue to contribute to our village. The best way I think I can contribute is to lend my professional expertise to the students and families in Livingston. We’ve accomplished a great deal during my first term on the board, but there is always room to grow. I feel I have a good sense of our strengths and our areas for growth.
Q: In what area(s) would you like to see more support?
A: I have the Helen Hayes quote, “If you rest, you rust,” on my desk. Though LPS is thriving, I’m not the type of person to be content. If re-elected, I hope to pursue the following initiatives at Livingston Public Schools:
- Refine the elementary school math program to ensure students have the foundational math skills to succeed in higher level mathematics
- Increase the diversity of colleges to which LHS graduates enroll
- Take greater advantage New Jersey's Option 2 to allow for innovative scheduling and programming for all students, not just those seeking remediation or enrichment
- Adapt Yale University's course, Psychology and the Good Life, to explicitly teach emotional resilience
- Expand internship and experiential learning opportunities for students
- Reduce fees associated with middle school and high schools sports programming
- Partner with the Town Council to increase the number of turf fields in town
Q: Tell us about your other career and/or other ways you are involved in the community.
A: Sam currently serves as Chief of Staff for the Uncommon Schools Network; prior to that she was the Executive Director for Literacy at Newark Public Schools.
Sam has done consulting work in education nationally for The U.S. Department of Education and internationally for The World Bank.
Sam was appointed to the Bill and Melinda Gates Education Advisory Board.
In 2019, Sam was selected by the NJ Department of Education to serve on the committee charged with re-designing our state assessments.
Sam has 10 years of experience as a teacher and vice principal in elementary, middle and high school.
Sam ran one of the early 1:1 laptop programs in the country at The Chapin School.
Sam was one of the founders at The Churchill High School, one of the premier schools for students with disabilities in the country.
Sam oversees College Guidance in her current Chief of Staff role.
Sam has been nominated for the 2020 Harvard Alumni Award for her Outstanding Contributions to Education.
Sam has served on the Livingston Board of Education for the past 3 years, during which time LPS’s rankings have climbed.
Q: How optimistic are you that the new leadership at Livingston Public Schools will continue to enhance and support the achievements of all students? Please explain.
A: I am extremely optimistic about the new leadership at LPS. We, the board and the administration, spent 8 months searching for the right superintendent for our district. We wanted someone who is smart, collaborative and has a vision for the future. We also wanted someone who could inspire our staff and our community, and maintain a sense of humor and a positive attitude. Our interview process was rigorous, and ultimately, the board unanimously and enthusiastically agreed that Dr. Matthew Block fit the bill. In his first few months here, he is exceeding my expectations. He is taking his time to learn about our district and connect with students, teachers, administrators and parents.
Q: What should people know about you that they might not know already?
A: One of our presidents I most admire is Teddy Roosevelt (TR). Teddy always did what he thought was right regardless of the reaction it would spark in others. For example, he invited Booker T. Washington to dine at the Whitehouse, filed 44 anti-trust suits, and legislated the meat-packing industry for the first time despite the backlash he knew he would receive. TR was known to be scrappy. As governor, he would walk the beat of a traditional street cop in New York to get a better understand of the city’s problems. He was an independent thinker who always questioned the pervasive way of thinking and was not afraid to take an opposing point of view. Though there are clear difference between us, I have great admiration for what he was able to accomplish and for the fact that he seemed to be guided by doing the right thing even when it was difficult to do so.