PLAINFIELD, NJ - TAPinto Plainfield is profiling the candidates running for the Board of Education in the General Election on Nov. 6.  All of the candidates were invited to participate in this effort.  This time, we learn more about Harry M. Watson Jr., another independent candidate running for a three-year term.

What is your educational background?  I have attended F.W. Cook Elementary School, Maxson Middle School, Union County Vocational Technical High School, and Plainfield High School and proud alumnus of the Class of 2002. Attended Mercer County Community College and graduated with an Associates in Applied Science in Business Management, and Political Science. Associates in Science in Funeral Service Education and Certificate of Proficiency in Mortuary Science. I went on to further my education by attending William Paterson University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology concentration in Criminal Justice and a Bachelor of Science in Political Science. Currently, I am pursuing my master’s degree from Rutgers University, Newark campus in Public Administration concentration in Leadership and Government and will graduate May 2019. I look forward to pursuing my doctorate degree in the fall 2019.

What is your occupation?  Corporate Security Supervisor, Self-Employed Small Business Owner, Former Teacher Assistant and Substitute Teacher.

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Are you married? Partner?  No, I am not married.

Do you have children?  If yes, are they in the Plainfield public school district? No, I do not have any children but, I have relatives that are attending several schools in the district.

Why are you running for the Plainfield Board of Education?  I choose to run for Plainfield School Board because of my passion for education and my vision and leadership to help the students and the community. Since, employed with the Plainfield School District, I felt that it was my time to step up and show the community who I am and what I am about. Plainfield has great people and we as a community need to elect individuals not because they have political connects or their family name but, elect those that can get the job done.

How do you feel about standardized testing for students?  In my opinion I believe that standardized testing has its pros and its cons. One of the pros, would be that standardized test help measure what the student has retained after being taught the lesson for some period. It also helps identify their strengths and weakness within the classroom setting, throughout the school, and the subject matter being taught. Through assessments administrators can also assess where students, teachers and parents need further resources to improve on student outcomes. A few cons in standardized test would be, one the students are over assessed, which in that case causes them not to take those assessments on a serious level. Many teachers are more focused on teaching towards passing the test to retain their tenure and or job security and by them doing that it causes a lack of creative instruction within the learning environment.

What are your suggestions for improving the process?  To improve the process with standardized test I think that it is important for the students to be given the opportunity to have a discussion on why they are taking the test and what does the test do. We need to engage them in the testing process so that when they do decide to take those assessments their stress levels are not as high going in to the test and then our outcome would be much better.

What qualities would you look for in a new Superintendent?  The qualities I would like to see in the next superintendent would be transparency, effective communication, goal setting, trust, demonstrating good ethical standards, compassion, knowledgeable of policy and procedure and understanding how to effectively lead district to the next level, Innovator and an initiator and someone who has a close understanding of the routines and rituals of a school district.  

School board trustees are charged with, in addition to attending public meetings, researching their decisions for the schools, and attending numerous committee meetings. Given that, do you have time in your life to dedicate to the school board?  Very good question, Yes, I will have time in my life that is fully devoted to serving the school district in all meetings and committee meetings. It would be wrong of me to run for a position that I will not be able to dedicate my time and energy to helping to be a solution to the problem. I am fully ready and capable of serving and willing to sacrifice many things I love doing just to see all our students succeed and do well in life.

Is there anything else you would like readers to know about you?  There are several goals that I have when elected to the board. Just to name one of them is transparency. I plan to do what I have believed, and the school board must be responsive and held accountable to the students, teachers, parents, staff, and the Plainfield community in communicating and encouraging open dialog. I believe that the board must be acceptable on receiving and taking input from all groups and weighing all the facts before deciding. As a board member: I will remain, transparent always, be an active listener to all, and engage our community and students as well as the parents. If elected I will remain a trustee to the Plainfield community that elects me. I will be willing to collaborate with all the members of the board and community that includes all our teachers and staff. I believe that anyone that comes before the board has a right to speak and be heard on their issues and concerns. I will continue to build a stronger community and participation so that our children succeed.

I am a product of the Plainfield school district and I have never given up on my school and my town that I love. I did not leave and make another place my home I stayed and came back to the district that helped make me who I am today. As I visited Plainfield High School a few  weeks ago I happened to see a mural that was painted on the wall across from the security desk near the main entrance and there was a quote on the mural that said “WE ARE THE FUTURE” and it made me think that we need to continue to support our students and encourage them to keep moving up the mountain. Our students in Plainfield they are our FUTURE. We as a community need to work together to make them see that no matter the struggles they go through we will always be there to support them.

So, on November 6th, 2018 when you go to the polls remember me Harry M. Watson Jr., Column 1 Button 1-1 a product of Plainfield school district, a teacher, a leader, a mentor to all, and a voice for our students. I am running as an independent candidate and have no political agenda or any personal agenda other than the SUCCESS of the Plainfield Public School District students.