MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Susan Bergin wants to use her legal skills to serve the community on the South Orange Maplewood Board of Education.
Bergin said that as a regulatory lawyer with a degree in public administration, "I can quickly get my arms around dense, complex information and regulatory frameworks. I understand the Board governance structure. I have the skills to read budgets, analyze data, and craft policies to drive change. My perspective as a health care lawyer will be particularly useful as the Board navigates a full time return to the classroom and the health, employment and privacy issues it raises. I also have experience with the special education legal system."
She noted that the positives of the South Orange Maplewood School District include the variety of great schools and thoughtful teachers. "What I really love about this district is how its stakeholders — parents, students, teachers, community members, administration — are able to come together to tackle the complicated issues, like elementary integration, and work together to make our schools and community even stronger. We have such a wealth of experience to draw on in our community and in our schools."
Equity and instruction are the areas she would like to improve upon if elected. As a volunteer in the district, she said, she has been involved with such issues as "lunch shaming and food insecurity, school fines and access to activities, food allergy management and the digital divide. The central theme of my work has been to foster an environment where all our students are included and able to access everything our schools have to offer. I would like to carry this theme through the entire school experience. Students need to feel this sense of belonging in order to thrive, both academically and emotionally."
Voters should look to her years of being a “board watcher,” collaborator, and advocate when making their choice, she said. "I am running to bring this experience to the horseshoe to make change at the board level."
She added, "A successful board member needs to be both a collaborator with the district and an advocate before the district. I have a demonstrable record of achieving results for our students in both capacities: addressing lunch shaming & food insecurity, launching the CHS senior fund, and writing the neighborhood WiFi pilot program proposal that won Maplewood’s first participatory budget contest."
She is running as a team with Courtney Winkfield "because of our shared values and shared approach to tackling tough issues.... Our campaign motto is 'Collaborate, Belong, Thrive' because we believe that through the hard work of collaboration, we can create an environment of belonging where all our students can thrive."
She has not run for office before, but she did apply and interview for Javier Farfan's unexpired term earlier this year. She and her husband have lived in Maplewood for 11 years and have three children, ages 15, 12 and 4.
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