HOWELL, NJ – Four seats are up for grabs on the Howell Township Board of Education, according to the Monmouth County Clerk’s Office.
For the full-term race (with three seats open), board vice president Albert “Al” Miller, Dr. Denise M. Lowe, Ira Thor, and Stephen Dobbins will be campaigning for a seat. Thor, Lowe and Miller are current members seeking to maintain their spots, while Dobbins is a newcomer slated to challenge the incumbents. Current board member Laurence Gurman is also running unopposed for a two-year unexpired term.
Lowe has been a resident of Howell for over a decade and is now in her sixth year as a Howell Township board of education member. The board of education reelection candidate is the managing director for All Children Can Learn, an academic coaching and training service, and works with the New York State Education Department as an educational consultant for East Ramapo School District in Rockland County, New York.
Lowe holds a professional diploma in educational administration from Long Island University and a doctorate in educational administration from the Columbia University Teachers College. She earned a master’s degree in special education from Long Island University and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Northeastern University.
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Why are you seeking a seat on the school board?
I am seeking another term so that I further and provide oversight in the goals and objectives of the Howell Township Strategic Action plan, In February of 2019 the board, conducted a renewal of our 5-year strategic plan, where over 100 community stakeholders including former and current students participated in providing input and feedback into the development of our district goals for 2019-2025. The goals for the action plan are; Learner Success, District Operations, Physical, Social & Emotional Wellness, Personnel/ Talent Team and Community Interaction. The full plan with details is listed on the district website. I have chaired the Education committee for 4 of those years, Labor for 2 years and Professional Learning for 3 years. The strength of our board work is in the committee structure which involves citizen members which is unique in New Jersey. My work is unfinished so I would like to pursue another term.
The single most pressing issue facing our school district is declining state funding for our school district over the next ten years and this is what I intend to do about it:
The greatest issue facing our school currently is declining state funds and the pandemic and our district reopening plan. We have developed an exemplary school reopening plan that involved parents, staff and community members at every level. We know the importance of school opening for our students, staff, parents and community members and for our Howell business community. We will continue to monitor data science and work in tandem with our Department of Health in keeping everyone safe. I also feel strongly that we need to evaluate the post COVID- practices that worked during remote learning as many students thrived in the digital platform. We need to evaluate what worked and what did not work and how we can translate both into instructional best practices when we fully return to the classroom.
Our school district is high performing and always performs above NJ state standards and we have exemplary programs that have been successful for our students. In order to maintain that standard, the diminishing funding and continual losses in education could impact the quality of our programs. We have always maintained and been efficient and cost effective in our spending over the years in all areas of school operations. If I am given the honor and privilege of returning to my board seat, I would work with our Legislative Advocacy Committee Chair as a member to work with our local legislators in addressing the funding issues for schools like Howell Township.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking to serve on the school board seat?
The critical difference between myself and the other candidates running is that I have been a leader in education in every role that I have served. I have worked as an educator for 42 years. I have served as a special education teacher, teacher coordinator, Associate for the NYS State Education Department, working with schools in NYC, assistant principal at the elementary and high school level, elementary principal, Ass’t Superintendent and retired as Superintendent in 2013. I established my consulting business, All Children Can Learn, LLC. where I provide instructional and leadership coaching and have worked in several states in our country since the business was formed in 2014. Currently, I am the NY State Monitor assigned to the East Ramapo Central School District in NY. In every role I have served I have been a leader and have established a proven track record of success in implementing effective organizational and operational procedures that have resulted in increased student learning.
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform:
As chair of the Professional Learning Committee, we have started to also need to address issues of Equity and Access for all our students through professional development, curriculum reform, hiring practices and disaggregating our data ensuring that all of our students have what they need to be successful. In my 1st year as a new board member I brought these issues to the education committee as a member and during 5 years as chair of the Education we raised and identified areas that we needed to focus on. Maintaining the high quality of instruction and programs working together to make our school even better. It is always about ever improving quality!
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you will be effective on the school board?
The strength of our board work is in the committee structure which involves citizen members which is unique in New Jersey. I have chaired the Education committee for 4 of those years, Labor and Professional Learning. My goal if I am able to serve a 3rd term would be to oversee the 2nd year of the five-year strategic plan in my role as a board member. In addition, I would continue working through the committee process using my areas of expertise to work with my fellow board members and the district administration in the implementation of our Strategic Planning Goals.
I have chaired the Educational Committee for 4 years were we have addressed instructional components to support new school reconfiguration by adopting new Writing programs, Wilson training and Math instruction, and working with Administration in addressing personalized learning with the framework of Passion, Play and Purpose.
Working as a member of the Labor Department and later chaired were we able negotiate a contract that brought significant cost savings in health benefits and increasing time for teacher and staff professional development days.
Lastly, the Professional Learning Committee which started as a ad hoc committee I am most proud of as this committee supports our own professional development as board members going above and beyond what is offered by NJ School Boards Association. Out of that committee we developed a new board member manual and orientation process to assist in supporting new board members right away after the election. As chair of that committee we work also coordinate our board retreat working with our administration in getting additional training for ourselves. Topics are included, understanding data, reviewing operational topics such transportation and sustainability projects. a We also have included students board leaders in a retreat to help gain their input in branding for district. Our committee has presented at NJSBA conference on the topic.
The best advice ever shared with me was:
To Listen to all perspectives, LEARN and much as I can, one who seeks to teach should never cease to learn and LEAD with professionalism, integrity and truth.
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
I would like voters to know that I have a passion for Howell Township schools. Despite all of many accomplishments I have obtained in my professional life and my community service life, I continue to serve to ensure that all children have those same opportunities.
When I moved here in 2009 from NY, having to move your family and my son had to leave the only life he knew as a mother, my heart was in my hand. His 1st day at school at Memorial Middle School and my 1st day as a new Superintendent, I asked him how he would rate his 1st day on a scale of 1-10 compared to where he would have gone in our community on Long Island, he told me, “Mom was 1st day was a 10. His remaining years at Memorial were outstanding. I chose to run for the board 6 years ago to give back to the Howell Township community what was given to my son, and to me as I have retired from working every day. I love living in this community as we are special and unique!
This article originally appeared on the Howell Patch