CHERRY HILL, NJ — When voters cast their ballots in the Nov. 3 elections, they will be asked to choose three people from a field of six to serve on the Cherry Hill Public School District’s Board of Education.
Patch asked each candidate to answer questions to give voters information about who they are and their stances on various issues. We are printing their responses in full, unedited except for spelling or punctuation. Below are the responses from candidate Miriam Stern.
Previous elective office, if any
Does anyone in your family work for the school district or in politics?
Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies from Washington University, Master of Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania
Founder and Executive Director of a group counseling practice.
Why are you seeking a seat on the school board?
I’ve been an involved parent advocate in Cherry Hill Public Schools for 10 years as a champion of: Fair Funding when our District was being shorted $200 million in state aid; modernizing education and our buildings that have critical maintenance needs; fiscal responsibility; and ensuring all students have equitable access to an education so that they can achieve academic and social-emotional success. After all these years I’m ready to take volunteering to the next level and serve on the Board of Education.
The single most pressing issue facing our school district is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.
The District has faced many big challenges in recent years that have been addressed piecemeal in reactive ways, rather than with a proactive and cohesive big-picture approach. If elected to the Board of Ed, I will bring a big-picture, long-range planning perspective to developing a proactive plan for modernizing our education and facilities so that our excellent schools remain one of the top reasons people choose to live in Cherry Hill. This will involve exploring state aid, alternative funding and bond funding options for the best fiscally-responsible path forward.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking to serve on the school board seat?
I am the only candidate who currently has children in the District (a junior at Cherry Hill East and two 8th graders at Rosa) and who has also been an actively involved leader as a parent advocate in our schools for 10 years. I have been involved in several PTAs and served on several committees including the District’s Alternative Funding Committee, and the Zone PTA Fair Funding Committee where I led a public information campaign and testified in the State Assembly Budget hearings. I have attended the majority of bi-weekly Board of Education meetings over the past 4 years and many Board committee meetings and spoken publicly about important issues, such as offering Chinese Language class for our high school students, supporting STEM education and extracurricular activities, supporting families of students with special needs, and addressing opportunity gaps for students who face academic challenges. I am the only candidate who is an experienced mental health professional with a deep understanding of social-emotional learning and student mental health wellness program development.
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform.
Our District is at a crossroads because of the many challenges we’ve faced, and at times ignored, due to major funding issues. Over the last few years because we have been shorted $200 million in state education funding, our facilities and our approach to education are both in need of modernization. We must ensure all our students receive an equitable education, push for our fair share of state funding, develop alternative funding sources (by hiring a grant writer and exploring other alternative funding) and develop a long-range plan for Cherry Hill Public Schools for modernized education that will ensure continued success in the present and future. I am ready to put my deep understanding of these challenges to work collaboratively with the other Board members to ensure the District Administration makes proactive progress in the right direction for the students and all stakeholders.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you will be effective on the school board?
During my 25-year career as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker I’ve worked in the public and private sectors. In 2004, I founded a group counseling practice in Cherry Hill, and now work as both a therapist and administrator of the practice that has grown to have 20 therapists with two locations. I am a problem-solver and innovator who thrives on collaborating with others to make an impact. I currently serve on the Boards of Directors of the National Association of Social Workers-NJ Chapter and of Jewish Family and Children’s Services of Southern New Jersey (JFCS) where I have used my professional expertise to bring new initiatives that help the organizations and the people they serve.
In 2017 and 2018 I worked with our local leaders to bring Cherry Hill Public Schools funding plight to the attention of the State Department of Education. I was part of a small group of parents who met with the then NJ Commissioner of Education, Dr Lamont Repollet in 2017. Then in 2018, I helped to bring Dr Repollet and 15 members of his staff to visit our schools to see our challenges first hand.
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
I am deeply passionate about progress, leadership, and integrity in education. If elected to the Board of Education, I will use my expertise as an experienced advocate and successful leader to guide the District with integrity and commitment.
The best advice ever shared with me was
Do things the right way, for the right reasons.