CHESTER, NJ — Candidates are selected for the Chester K-8 Board of Education race in the Nov. 8 ballot.
In anticipation, Patch sent questionnaires to each of the candidates vying for vacant school board seats, asking them to share facts about themselves and why voters should choose them to represent the local school district.
Responses received will be published by polling day.
Here are the answers of candidate Melissa Mauro-Duffy below:
- Last name: Melissa Mauro-Duffy
- Age: 49
- Town of residence : Chester
- Job sought : Chester Board of Education 3 year term
- Family: husband and two children
- Education: Montclair State, Fashion Institute of Technology Continuing Education Assistant Professor in my field of study, Interior Design
- Occupation: Fine Design owner
- Previous or current elected mandate: no previous or current elected office
Why are you seeking to present yourself to the school board?
I have been an active volunteer in the school district for the past 8 years. Helping the school community has always been a priority for me. Seeing what my children were going through during the covid pandemic inspired me to take an active interest in our school board meetings. Since then, I have attended every meeting, spoken at some, and learned a great deal about how our district operates. I feel compelled to run for school board to ensure the best possible educational experience for the Chester school community, including children, parents, teachers and school staff.
COVID-19 has resulted in learning loss for many students. What will you do to get students to bounce back?
The loss of learning and socialization has been devastating during Covid-19, but now is the time to start reclaiming what our children have lost. I would fully assess the issues and start by finding out what teachers need to help students get back to normal. We have already started this school year with clubs, extracurricular activities and sports that have not been part of the school experience since before the pandemic. These offerings go a long way toward meeting social and emotional needs. By connecting and making new friends through these experiences, it creates an optimal environment for superior academic performance.
What other issues do you think need to be addressed in the school district?
Teacher retention, finding and retaining exceptional/talented teachers and other school personnel. We are in dire need of teachers and other school personnel, and it goes without saying that our district cannot function without them. Finding ways to attract educators to our district and entice them to stay is something the board needs to continue to work on.
What is your opinion of the sex ed curriculum that Governor Murphy introduced earlier this year? What is your position on inclusion and diversity? Is the community doing enough? Not enough?
My take on the new sex ed curriculum the governor introduced this year is that it’s not the one-size-fits-all solution the state would like it to be. New Jersey has about 600 public school districts, each with their own opinion on how they would like to see their children educated. Our district takes a more conservative view of the sex ed curriculum and it always has. Nothing has changed in our K-5 schools, at least not yet. If elected to the board, I would advocate continuing to take the same approach with the more conservative vision we already have for our elementary schools.
Of course, our schools need to be inclusive and diverse, and our educators do a great job of that. In all three schools, you can find examples of how they achieve this. Circle of Friends, Respect Week, Unified Sports and Lunch Bunch are just a few examples of how our schools work to make students feel respected and valued for who they are.
What particular skills do you bring to help meet the challenge?
I’ve been a business owner for 28 years, a business that I built and grew myself. I’m no stranger to hard work and putting in time until the job is done. My business background along with my volunteering at school, my position on the PTO Board of Directors, and my objective thinking skills allow me to hear from all sides and come up with thoughtful solutions that benefit everyone. all. When I asked what was the biggest challenge facing our school district, the answer was division in our school community. I feel well placed to help overcome this feeling and focus on how best to benefit all students, parents, teachers and school staff.
What else would you like to share about yourself or your campaign?
I am a parent, business owner, volunteer, PTO board member, and concerned citizen who seeks to do what needs to be done to keep our district among the top ranked in our state. . For more information about me, check out my Facebook page Melissa Mauro-Duffy for Chester Board of Education, and find me on your ballot – Line 4 Melissa Mauro-Duffy with the tagline – Children, Education, Community