My name is Amanda Betz Marano and I’m running for the New Providence Board of Education on Nov. 3, 2020.
My family moved to New Providence in the summer before I entered 2nd grade at AWR, and I am a proud Pioneer and graduate of the NPHS class of 1998. Like many of your children, grandchildren or yourselves, I grew up proudly wearing “the green and gold” on the field. I also attribute my love and appreciation for music and art to the various opportunities offered to me by this school system and town.
I attended Fairfield University, where I met my husband Pat, and have built a career in digital media sales for some of the world’s leading news brands, such as The Washington Post, Bloomberg, BBC and currently Business Insider. We moved to New Providence at the end of 2012 after we had our first son, Patrick (aka “Tripp”), because we wanted to raise a family in a safe community with quality schools. We’ve since welcomed another son, William, in addition to a black lab, Bear.
Having grown up in New Providence, I understand the importance our schools hold for ALL members of this community, from igniting the imagination of kindergartners to preserving home value and affordable taxes for seniors. In addition, I am acutely aware of the work our Board of Education does to serve the community, as I saw the amount of time my dad, Bob Betz, dedicated to the district during his 18+ years as a member. The BOE in previous eras helped establish New Providence as one of New Jersey’s educational jewels. Now it’s 2020, and in what has arguably become a turning point in modern history, I have fully embraced the dedication to community service that my parents instilled in our family. As I have two young children in our schools, I want to represent my fellow parents and am ready to make a meaningful difference.
The challenges that our children, and we as parents, are facing have grown overnight. Considering this is a ‘new world’ we’re operating in, we need to think creatively, expand how we raise capital for infrastructure improvements and technology and collaborate outside the traditional avenues that we have relied on in the past. If elected to the Board, I would focus on the following four specific areas:
1. Technology, Our Children and Our Schools
How do we as a district create a deepened focus on how we utilize and introduce our children to technology? I’ve spent a career in digital media and know that a “one-size-fits” all model of how students and teachers across ALL grade levels use various platforms and devices does not work. I understand that technology is ever-changing and that it can be a rabbit hole of information to navigate. There are many opportunities for small districts like ours to implement different ways of communicating and learning for our children and teachers. Have we considered all the latest hardware and software options to prepare our kids for what's to come? Are our schools fully equipped for an uncertain future of live, remote and hybrid instruction?
2. Impactful Mental Health Action Plan
It's critical that we take a renewed look at the social, emotional learning needs of our children in these challenging times. Are they receiving the care and personalized focus needed to manage the months and years ahead? The community has been deeply affected this year on a personal level and the loss of any young person is a tragedy beyond repair. Our children are being forced to grow up faster than is biologically safe, due to technology advances, anxiety and pressure. Add in the ramifications of Covid-19 and it’s easy to see how the trepidation of these times will carry impact for the rest of their lives. As a district we have to acknowledge, embrace and ensure they have the right coping skills to lead the productive, fruitful lives that we all envision for our future leaders.
3. Parent Perspective
I am a firm believer that we need to be led by true representatives of our parent population. I have two young sons in the district. I know where we've been, and I know what we need to go forward. My interests are your interests at a district and township level.
4. Fiscal Responsibility
I am in tune with the needs of voters in New Providence without children in our schools. My parents still live here. I hear their concerns and those of their peers regularly. We need to tend to those needs to be fiscally conservative and respectful of tax implications as we balance the investments required to boost our district to new heights in 2021 and beyond.
In closing, I don't enter this election lightly. I do it because New Providence is core to who I am as a mother, a spouse and a business executive. And I have lofty hopes and goals for how we can elevate our educational offerings further. It will come down to communication, commitment and clarity and I believe I'm the right pick to help us get there.
Thank you for your neighborly support and encouragement. Please vote Amanda Marano, column 3, on Election Day or your mail-in ballots. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions and to learn about my vision for our school and community.