I have been a proud resident of South Orange for over 20 years. My husband and I selected this town before we had kids; in fact, we bought our house before we even got engaged. We just knew that we would one day start a family in this special little town. When I was pregnant, so many friends said to us, "you aren't going to send your kids to school HERE, are you?" So, years ago, when it was time for my oldest to go to kindergarten, I figured, "we can't do that to him" and we put him in private school. But, it never felt right to me. If you know me, you know that I am a neighborhood girl. I truly believe the heart of a town is found in its schools. When my youngest was due to start school, we reevaluated our decision and came back home. My oldest started at Jefferson in 3rd grade; my youngest at Marshall in Kindergarten. All these years later, I have no regrets. As I tour colleges with my high school senior, I am convinced that he has not lost any opportunities as a result of my decision to keep him in the SOMSD school system.
I met Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad 8 years ago. Even before she ran for office, I admired her passion for life — for erasing boundaries, for supporting the school system through the Achieve dinners, and for encouraging the kind of thought-provoking discussions with diverse groups that most people only have with folks who look and think just like them. Stephanie brought together people from across the SOMA Community. You knew you would have fun at her events, but you also knew you would be challenged to think.
I supported Stephanie in her first bid for the South Orange-Maplewood School Board and I wholeheartedly support her now. She cares enough to dig, probe, and ask why. While others were fighting against reducing levels at the middle and high schools, worried that it would harm their own high-achieving children, Stephanie was fighting for it because she had done the research. She knew that a reduction in leveling was better for all children. She has continued to fight for all the children in our district in her six years on the board.
I also admire Stephanie’s courage. She has stood strong in the face of hateful attacks. As her friend, I have seen the vitriol she received from people all around this country. Most people would have retreated, but she is moving forward. That she is willing to throw her hat into the ring again in spite of this speaks volumes about her commitment to all our children. I trust her to represent my children who are now 12th and 9th graders. I hope you will trust her to represent yours.
I am proud to say that I will be voting for Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad on November 5th.
Tara Brown Favors
South Orange, NJ