BRIDGEWATER, NJ — Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School Board has four candidates vying for two seats in the upcoming election on Nov. 3.
Jessica Levitt is one of the candidates running. Other candidates include Barry R. Walker, Scott Mihalick, and John-Paul Levin, who are all running for the two, three-year seats on the board.
Chingchaun “Jean” Lee is running unopposed for the one, one-year unexpired term. Lucretia “Lucy” Sandler is also running unopposed for the one, three-year seat representing Raritan.
Are you running for office in Bridgewater? Contact Alexis Tarrazi at [email protected] for information on being featured in a candidate’s profile and submitting campaign announcements to Bridgewater Patch.
1. Why are running for Board of Education?
I want to serve my community as a member of the BRRSD Board of Education mainly because I care about the students. For nearly two years, I have attended board meetings, both in person and now online. While I’ve been afforded the opportunity to voice my opinion, I would like to have a role whereby I can make more of a difference. I understand the hard work it takes to volunteer as a member of the board of education, and I am dedicated to representing the people of Bridgewater while working collaboratively with the other board members to build on our excellence.
2. What are your qualifications for this position?
I am a parent with two children (grades 11 and 8) who have been in the district since kindergarten, so I have experience with how the schools operate at all levels. My kids have very distinct learning styles and different needs and have utilized many aspects of the schools including the AI and E programs, both academic and honors level classes, counseling and mental health services, and special needs. I have been actively involved in the schools, including recently serving on the homework and mental health committees. I believe my involvement and experience with the board will give me an advantage because I can jump right in and get to work. And at the same time, I am still a fresh perspective who isn’t afraid to ask tough questions.
Also, I work very well in a team and have the leadership skills to help with building a consensus. This is so important because the board of education isn’t about anyone individual having power, but rather about working together with each other, the administration and with the whole community. Nothing can get done without that cooperation.
I have my Bachelor’s of Science from Duke University with a double major in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. And, I run my own business as a textile designer, author, artist, event planner, and teacher. I understand the importance of advancing STEM education and also how vital the arts, athletics, and extra-curricular activities are. I am logical and analytical as well as creative and open-minded.
3. The single most pressing issue facing our school district is ____ and this is what I intend to do about it:
The single most pressing issue facing our school district is continuing to provide and excellent and equitable education in the midst of the pandemic. I intend to ensure this by continuing to make our students the priority. Decisions about the format and operations of schools should be based on science and health experts. We must also listen to our teachers and administrators to understand how they need to be supported. This should include expanded professional development. The district needs to provide these amazing professionals with resources and training to improve the virtual and hybrid learning environments. While students are unable to be in the classroom, or while education is in hybrid form, we must make the virtual component as effective and enjoyable as possible. Our parents and students are relying on it.
We must also continue the hard work needed to get students safely back in the classroom as soon as possible. Many students may be experiencing high levels of stress due to social isolation, economic situations at home, and loss. It is particularly important that we address social and emotional learning and how to adapt it to our current models. The needs of individual students in our district vary. They include special education and gifted programs, counseling, health services, free and reduced lunches, and the many excellent athletic, performing arts and extra-curricular programs. Each need must be addressed in these challenging circumstances with the same outstanding level of services always provided.
4. What are other issues you would like to see addressed in the school district?
I will expect equity, opportunity, and respect for all students and staff, including access to a well-rounded education that extends beyond the classroom to athletics, the arts, and other extra-curricular activities.
I believe in fostering open, honest, and consistent communication between the board and the public (including parents and teachers) to create a climate of cooperation and respect for all voices. The community needs to see that the board is operating transparently and making appropriate and informed decisions to best serve our students.
I value accountability and fiscal responsibility to all the taxpayers of Bridgewater.
I prioritize student and staff health, wellness, and safety and will do my best to ensure an optimal learning environment. This includes addressing: pandemic health modifications, healthy school start times, on-going building safety evaluations, and mental health initiatives.