Name: Sonal Patel, M.Ed.

Age: 50

How long have you lived in Westfield? 7 years

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What are your qualifications for office? I have a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Lehigh University, a master’s in education in educational leadership and am certified by the New Jersey Department of Education to teach mathematics.

As a professional educator, I have been a middle school math teacher in Edison Township for the past 17 years. As a teacher, who has interacted with thousands of students and parents over the years, I am well versed in the intricacies of public school education, curriculum and staff development.

What would your top priorities be if elected to the school board? While many priorities remain unchanged, like attracting well-qualified teachers and a strong curriculum, our new world requires new priorities related to COVID.

We must foremost safeguard the health and safety of students, staff, and the community. Our schools must continuously and flexibly re-calibrate plans based on the dynamically changing coronavirus situation to keep students and staff healthy and safe.

How would you work to promote diversity in Westfield public schools’ education? Studies show a positive link between diversity and educational outcomes as measured by test results and graduation rates. We can do more and should do more to promote diversity in Westfield public schools’ education. We must refortify our efforts in staff development and further study and carefully explore educational materials and technology that are sensitive and responsive to the racial, ethnic, cultural, and economic diversity of students.

What are some of the challenges COVID-19 has brought to the district and how you would handle them? COVID-19 has brought unprecedented challenges for our students. We must anticipate and bridge any learning gaps caused by the coronavirus. Teachers, administrators, and parents must work hard to keep learning alive and bridge these gaps via after school and summer programs over the course of the next few years. We must reevaluate the curriculum for upcoming school years until these gaps have successfully been bridged.

What else would you like the readers to know? As a parent, I have two children in the public school system, who have benefitted from the excellent academics and various other programs in sports, music and theater.

With my background and training, I am well equipped and informed of the practical realities, possibilities, and promise of public schools in our community.

As a professional educator in public schools, I am ready to make well-informed practical decisions impacting our schools, curriculum, staff, and most importantly, students’ education.

Questions for the candidate? Email Sonal Patel at spatel72511@gmail.com.

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