For the last several months, Madhu Pai, Wayne Eastman, and I have listened to the community, researched best practices in education, analyzed South Orange-Maplewood’s own strengths and weaknesses, and used those findings to create articulate a bold, positive, budget-realistic 21st Century agenda for our schools.
The following profile is a summary of the ideas we hope to implement to support excellence for all children
- Help build the background knowledge that is essential for school success by expanding after school academic enrichment in the elementary grades. The topics would be academic, but fun. With a modest copay, the cost to taxpayers is small.
- Teach foreign language to younger students in a more serious way, with technology as a supplemental tool to allow students to learn at their own pace. Have a definition, expectation, and then supplemental materials in the curriculum for foundational work and advanced work.
- Bring greater sophistication to the middle school Language Arts curriculum with connections to Social Studies. Offer acceleration opportunities in Science.
- Improve the Middle School Transformation: Offer more supplemental instruction after school for struggling students. Create a structure for students to do in-depth independent projects. Create extracurriculars like National Geography Bee and Mock Trial. Allow more 8th graders into the accelerated English class.
- Work to close curricular gaps in 21st Century studies at Columbia in economics, global studies, and computer science.
- Create more extracurriculars at Columbia for their social, college admission, school reputation, and educational benefits.
- Become a highly attractive school district for teachers through supporting teachers in classroom management, giving teachers some autonomy over content (while maintaining high standards), and individualizing professional development.
- Improve communications between the Administration, Board of Education, and community. Improve marketing of our schools.
My running mates and I bring backgrounds, skills, and knowledge to the Board of Education that give us perspectives that will benefit all students. I am a proud graduate of public schools and have been passionately interested in education since I was in high school. I tutored and mentored throughout college in Chicago and then taught Social Studies at Arthur L. Johnson High School in New Jersey. As a teacher I got to experience the joys of teaching, such as designing curricula, having classroom conversations go off in unpredicted directions, and seeing students grow in their knowledge of the world and as writers. I am now a librarian, but I continue to get to work with children, assisting them in finding books that will stretch their horizons and work with children on reports and research.
We have an inclusive vision for all 6,625 students and the broader community of Maplewood-South Orange. Our agenda is not about the debates of the last two years, but is about ways to move our schools forward and our students upwards. We are not trapped in the past, but look to the future. If you Expect More from our schools please vote for us on Tuesday.