Meet the candidates of the Audubon Board of Education

We invited the candidates for the Audubon School Board to tell voters a bit about themselves before the vote. Here is how they responded.

By Matt Skoufalos | November 1, 2021

On November 2, Audubon voters will choose from two candidates in the ballot for three seats on the district school board.

Holders James blumenstein and Allison cox face no opposition in the ballot for their council seats, but with an undisputed third seat also available, residents Andrea Robinson and Kelly Tomeo announced their candidacies in writing for the governing body.

We invited everyone to respond to the same set of prompts, letting voters know about themselves, their priorities, and their perspective on the current state of the community. Answers have been edited for clarity and length.

Andréa Robinson. Credit: Andrea Robinson.

Andrea Robinson (Written Challenging)

Originally from Virginia, Andrea Robinson moved from South Philly to Audubon 13 years ago.

She currently teaches AP Environmental Science and Environmental Science to grade 10 students at Camden Academy, which is part of the Camden Charter School Network. This will be her third year there and her 22nd year as a teacher.

Robinson has taught at an independent school, Quaker school, public school, charter school, GT programs, and special education programs. She chairs the Camden Academy Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.

Robinson holds a master’s degree in science education from Virginia Tech University and a bachelor’s degree in biology. She served in the vestry of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Haddon Heights, as well as on the board of directors of the schooner North Wind in Gloucester City.

Robinson and his wife are mothers of three children, two of whom are currently enrolled in Audubon schools, and foster dogs and kittens through the Burlington County Animal Alliance.

What is your philosophy of education?

My teaching philosophy is that learning should be meaningful and engaging for students. I am a supporter of STEAM education and high school experience opportunities beyond the classroom, which may include vocational training, ‘College Now’ programs for juniors and seniors, or internship opportunities. .

I believe that students who have a personal connection to the subjects taught understand and grasp better the concepts presented. This connection can be made through a relationship with the teacher, engaging in hands-on activities, flipped classes and / or using the current trend i.e. TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat.

But above all, creating physically and emotionally safe spaces in schools for ALL students is my main goal.

Why would you want to sit on the Audubon School Board?

I am a teacher, a parent and a member of the community. I want to serve as a voice for those who might not feel empowered to share their voice.

Maybe they don’t have family members who reflect their identity because they identify with the LGBTQ + community. Maybe they don’t have someone who shares their racial identity in school. It may be a student marginalized by his peers and uncomfortable sharing his experience.

While I will be proud to represent all of the students in the district, I want to be intentional about listening to and amplifying the voices of students, families, teachers, and community members.

Please note that my name will not appear on the ballot and you will need to write my name, Andrea Robinson, in the space provided. I felt compelled to run for the third vacant seat after seeing that only two community members were running for three positions. My friends and family have encouraged me because they know I would be an asset to the board and the community if elected.

What are the biggest challenges Audubon schools face?

Although New Jersey is one of the most diverse and inclusive states in the country, our district faces the challenge of lacking a diverse set of educators and administrators, which leads to a more diverse educational experience. poor for the children of the district.

I believe that when our children learn from a diverse set of educators during their time at Audubon Schools, they will be better prepared after graduation to be more empathetic, successful adults and stronger members. from the community.

Finding the best way to deal with the inevitable disruption that will be caused by COVID this year presents a challenge for students who need to be quarantined and lack an equal educational experience. Virtual schooling should be explored as an option for these students.

What are the greatest strengths of Audubon schools?

The strengths of the neighborhood are the reason I moved here 13 years ago. It is a small school district that feels like family and provides our children with a high quality educational experience. We have always believed that teachers not only know our children and our families, but also care and love us sincerely. Our children grew up with their classmates because of the neighborhood community vibe.

The KEYS program provides working parents with a fun and safe environment for their children before and after school. The athletic program is both strong and inclusive, and offers opportunities for personal and athletic growth. The small size of the district means that all students are valued as individuals. The “School Choice Program” is a great opportunity to expose a diversity of thoughts and life experiences not only to students in our community, but also to surrounding communities.

Audubon has a lot of strengths, and I intend to make sure that we can continue to grow and explore more opportunities for students.

What are the three key questions you would like to focus on if elected?

The three issues I would focus on and bring to the attention of the board and administration would be:

  1. To expose the children of the district to a more diverse and comprehensive educational experience, both through the materials taught and through the intentional recruitment of a more diverse set of educators and administrators. Children who learn in a more diverse environment do better academically and become stronger citizens.
  2. Ensure that children in the district receive comprehensive health education based on empathy and science, which will give them the tools they need to make better decisions about their health as they grow older. Informed children make smarter decisions about their health.
  3. Continue to promote an emotionally and physically safe environment for every student in the district, regardless of race, sexuality, income, immigrant status or anything else. While the District has made great strides in eliminating bullying, there is still a lot of work to be done and I intend to ensure that we continue to learn and grow as a District in this regard. Creating physically and emotionally safe spaces in schools for ALL students is my main goal.

Kelly Tomeo. Credit: Kelly Tomeo.

Kelly Tomeo (Written Challenger)

Kelly Tomeo is a married mother of two Audubon graduates and a third school-age child.

A resident of Audubon for 25 years, Tomeo is running as a written candidate for the school board.

What is your philosophy of education?

My philosophy of education is to stick to the basics from the start and broaden the mind in high school or post-high school.

However, my philosophy is only one when it comes to an entire district.

I should listen more to teachers, because it is their expertise.

Why would you want to sit on the Audubon School Board?

After many years of watching from a distance, I feel it’s time for me to give the board more balance. With the most recent pandemic, I have seen too many instances where the board was dealing with too many unnecessary tasks that are not intended for educators. I feel it’s time to throw my hat in the ring and work on the balance; bring things back to basics.

What are the biggest challenges Audubon schools face?

We always seem to have a lack of funds. I would like to help identify programs that are not currently working and eventually allocate those funds to programs that are in demand.

What are the greatest strengths of Audubon schools?

Our community. The wealth of knowledge of our residents spans all different careers. From judges, laborers, university professors, doctors and city workers, each has something to offer in their experiences of what works.

What are the three key questions you would like to focus on if elected?

  • Introduction of more business jobs for students, as well as college programs
  • Stronger IEP programs for children who need them; I think we have to see what works and what doesn’t
  • Our school budget

About Leslie Schwartz

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