Warren Board Of Education Profile: Laura Keller | #Education

WARREN, NJ — Warren Township School Board has five candidates vying for three seats in the upcoming election on Nov. 3.

Laura Keller is one of the candidates running. The other candidates include Todd Weinstein, Eric D. Winch, David Brezee, and Christian Bellmann.

Lori Ruckstuhl-Clar is also running for one, one year unexpired seat.

Are you running for office in Warren? Contact Alexis Tarrazi at alexis.tarrazi@patch.com for information on being featured in a candidate’s profile and submitting campaign announcements to Warren Patch.

Laura Keller

1. Why are running for Board of Education?

I’m passionate about helping my two girls, ages 9 and 5, develop academically, socially and emotionally, and having a role on the Board of Education will enable me to have a direct impact to Warren’s already strong school programs.

But, more importantly, the best school experience can only come from collaboration and dialogue among parents, students, teachers, principals, the superintendent and the BOE. I believe serving on the BOE requires the ability to listen carefully to constituents, understand their needs and facilitate solutions, and my community volunteer and work experience make me an ideal candidate to serve on the Warren Township BOE.

2. What are your qualifications for this position?

We moved to Warren in 2017 from Jersey City. While there, I was active in the community, helping various Jersey City departments figure out community-driven solutions to problems. I helped digitize/automate the process for acquiring cultural/recreational event permits, developed recommendations for streamlining public pre-K school registration, and helped kickstart an arts council for the community. These solutions were driven 100 percent by community input. From surveys, to interviews to collaborative workshops, I worked with residents to ensure these community services and improvements met their needs. The greatest skill I acquired from those volunteer efforts was working with others who may have very disparate needs and preferences to figure out solutions and create consensus.

Since moving to Warren, I’ve been looking for similar ways to get involved and decided the Warren Township Board of Education was a great way to apply my ability to solve problems using community input.

Another qualification for the Board is my job working in technology strategy. Similar to my volunteer experience, to do my job well I need to understand what people want from technology and make sure the design meets those needs. My career in consulting has made me be an expert listener and communicator, strong at creating consensus and determining solutions. These are all skills required to be effective on the Board of Education.

3. The single most pressing issue facing our school district is ____ and this is what I intend to do about it:

I believe the single most pressing issue facing our school district is ensuring the hybrid model is achieving the academic and social-emotional outcomes we want, consistently across the district.

Obviously, we all want a safe return to in-person schooling, full-time. Until that’s possible, if elected, I will use my skills mentioned above — the ability to listen carefully to constituents, understand their needs and facilitate solutions — to help assess the success of the hybrid model, ensure Warren community and school stakeholder input, and roll out solutions to identified problems.

4. What are other issues you would like to see addressed in the school district?

In addition to continuing to assess a safe return to full-time in-school learning and evaluating the success of the hybrid model, one topic that has come up consistently on recent Board meetings has been the challenges of children on IEP plans or those with any special needs. The hybrid model has highlighted how much we rely on Warren Township’s support services, and how we need to ensure continued, effective delivery of those services. I’d like to see the district address these needs.

Another issue I believe the district needs to continue to address is facility modernization. The district has made great progress with front-door security, library renovations and prototyping more innovative space designs, but there still seems to be issues such as temperature control in the older buildings. This is clearly less urgent given students are spending less time in the schools in the current hybrid model. But as we get back to a normal, in-person school experience long-term, I would like to see a renewed focus on the facilities. If the hybrid experience has taught us anything, it’s how important the physical space is in which our children learn.

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