Meet the Candidates: Cherry Hill School Board 2018


We invited candidates for the township board of education to tell voters a little about themselves ahead of Election Day. Here’s how they responded. 

By Matt Skoufalos | October 25, 2018

On November 6, Cherry Hill voters will choose from among 11 balloted candidates for three seats on the borough Board of Education (BOE). Incumbent board president J. Barry Dickinson is seeking re-election on a ticket with fellow incumbents Ken Tomlinson and Kathryn Bay Judge.

They’re challenged by Benjamin A. Shore, Rosy Arroyo, Sally Tong, Laurie Neary, David Rossi, Sanjay Sharma, Brunia L. Pilet, and Fredrick Dande.

We invited each candidate to respond to the same set of prompts, telling voters about themselves, their priorities, and their views of the current state of the district. Here’s how they responded (edited for clarity and length).

Balloted candidates whose responses are not noted here have not responded to requests for contact. This story will be updated if they reply.

Fredrick Dande. Credit: Fredrick Dande.

Fredrick Dande

Fredrick Dande is an IT manager in the financial service industry, a college adjunct instructor, and a father of three children in the Cherry Hill school district.

Dande holds two master’s degrees, an MBA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and a master’s in technology management from the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

He is pursuing a Ph.D. in technology management from Indiana State University.

Dande volunteers with the Cherry Hill Deer Park Fire Company – Rehab 13 and Boys Scouts Pack 170.

He has also served on the board of Junior Achievement of New Jersey.

What is your philosophy of education?

“I strongly believe that students are able to meet their fullest potential in a caring, secure, and stimulating environment that supports their growth and maturity emotionally, intellectually, physically, and socially.

“The key to achieving each student’s full potential is our talented teachers’ ability to enable students’ natural curiosity in directing their learning, and the promotion of respect for everyone.”

Why would you like to serve on the Cherry Hill school board?

“As an involved parent creating awareness about the many challenges we face as a district, including the pending bond election in December, I am asking for every vote from Cherry Hill residents to be every parent’s voice in making our schools better for our kids’ mental and emotional growth by putting ‘Kids’ Education First.’

“As the children’s and parents’ voice, I plan to be involved in decision-making that supports our students, Cherry Hill families, and the Cherry Hill school district employees in a transparent and ethical manner. One priority that I will work together in solving is the state of the district infrastructure, including information technology (IT).”

What are the biggest challenges for the Cherry Hill school district?

“Looking across all our 19 schools, it’s easy to notice the state of the facilities that are in need of repair and/or maintenance to ensure all our children have fully functional and safe facilities. With the district only receiving $12.2 million per year, on average, from the state, the lack of full funding is a priority that will involve working with our local leadership. I have proven negotiation skills that are much needed for our school district.”

What are the biggest strengths of the Cherry Hill school district?

“In talking to many parents and residents, one common attraction has been the quality of our public school system! As a board member, I plan to continue building on the several strengths of our school district, while getting the community involved by openly communicating.

“With a 2018 US News district average proficiency rating of 50 percent in reading and 33 percent in mathematics, there is room for improvement.”

What are three key issues on which you would focus if elected?

“I would like to continue working on a fiscal policy that will continue to keep our district budget balanced, and will continue a more aggressive initiative for fair funding of all the state mandates.

“Working to ensure our kids have clean and well-maintained playing fields, and more importantly, that our teachers and staff have the right technology to support their hard work, would be key to me. Together, let’s put our kids’ education first!”

J. Barry Dickinson. Credit: J. Barry Dickinson.

J. Barry Dickinson, 55

J. Barry Dickinson is dean of the School of Business Administration at Holy Family University and the incumbent president of the Cherry Hill BOE.

A married father of two, Dickinson has twice been elected to the board.

What is your philosophy of education?

“I believe a quality education is the key to success in life.”

Why would you like to serve on the Cherry Hill school board?

“I am running for re-election to the BOE because it is very personally rewarding. As a current BOE member, I get the opportunity to contribute directly to the educational experience of the 11,000 students in the district.

“Being involved with meeting new employees, viewing theatrical and musical performances, recognizing individual student achievements, and attending graduation are some of my most favorite activities. It is at these moments when you get to see the results of our hard work.

“I have had the honor to be a member of the BOE for the last six years, serving as President for the last two. I have learned quite a bit in this time. I believe this experience is key to being a strong BOE member. The operation of a large district like ours is very complex.”

What are the biggest challenges the Cherry Hill school district faces?

“The biggest challenge in the district is fair funding. The infrastructure is in desperate need of improvement and there is little room in the budget for major renovation. The State of New Jersey needs to signal that education is a high priority by funding districts adequately.”

What are the biggest strengths of the district?

“Strengths include: high-quality teachers and staff, successful co- and extracurricular activities, and dedicated and involved parents.”

What are three key issues on which you would focus if elected?

“Fair funding, challenges related to special education, and learning to deal with an increasingly diverse student body.”

Kathryn Bay Judge. Credit: Kathryn Bay Judge.

Kathryn Bay Judge, 57

Nineteen-year Cherry Hill resident and married mother of two Kathryn Bay Judge has served on the Cherry Hill BOE since 2007.

In that time, Judge has been the board’s president and vice-president, as well as serving on the Camden County Educational Services Commission and Executive Board of the Garden State Coalition of Schools.

Judge was named a New Jersey School Board Association Master Board Member in 2016, and also volunteers at the Catholic Community of Christ Our Light.

What is your philosophy of education?

“Public education is a right for all. We need to provide a secure, caring, and nurturing environment to prepare our children in the 21st century. “

Why would you like to serve on the Cherry Hill school board?

“My husband and I moved here for the same reason most of us have moved to Cherry Hill: because of the excellent reputation of the school district. It has been a great honor to serve on the BOE for the past 10 years.

“I have represented Cherry Hill throughout the state at NJSBA meetings, as well as testified before the Senate and Assembly Education Committees, and have advocated formally and informally with both local and state representatives for more equitable funding for our schools.

“Maintaining collaborative relationships with our local and state leaders is imperative for the future of our schools. It would be my honor to continue this ongoing battle.”

What are the biggest challenges the Cherry Hill school district faces? 

“Our aging facilities, passing the bond referendum, and fair funding. For many years, we tried to keep funding in the classroom and placed our facilities on the back burner. We cannot continue to do this.

“We’re at a crossroads with the condition of our buildings. Passing the three questions on the December 11 bond referendum will make great strides in improving the security and the condition of our buildings.”

What are the biggest strengths of the district?

“We are a very diverse community, and speak 72 native languages in our homes. We hire and retain passionate, hard-working and caring teachers, staff, and administrators. We offer excellent extracurricular opportunities.

“We have done very well over the last several years, adding staff and programs with extremely limited budgetary constraints and no reductions in force or elimination of programs like other districts have experienced.”

What are three key issues on which you would focus if elected?

“If re-relected, I’d like to concentrate on passing the bond referendum and monitoring the very necessary security and facilities work that needs to be done in our district. We also need to work on the achievement gap. Third, I’d like to see a 1:1 technology initiative in at least one level at the secondary level.”

Ben Shore. Credit: Ben Shore.

Benjamin A. Shore

Ben Shore is a 2018 graduate of Cherry Hill High School East who works as a congressional aide to a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Shore’s interests include innovation, technology, and equal rights.

What is your philosophy of education?

“My personal philosophy of education is to challenge students and watch them grow to their full potential.

“I want to take students at different levels and see them develop together for the betterment of each individual.

“Therefore, group work is the key to having a successful class, and is something I value.

“The impact of group work, when students help fellow students, changes each person and transforms the atmosphere of the class as a whole. I believe it is also important to help the students develop their social and interaction skills, and will do this with group work and activities.

“From my educational experiences, I know how valuable teacher encouragement and motivation is for personal motivation. Students should be motivated by teachers, and taught to be intrinsically motivated through challenging yet supportive lessons and assignments. I also want students to be active participants in the class in order to learn in the best way possible.

Why would you like to serve on the Cherry Hill board of education?

“As a community member and former Cherry Hill student, I feel it’s my duty to ensure that our future kids have the best and most innovative education available. I experienced the problems within our education system firsthand, and I believe I am in a unique position to change them.”

What are the biggest challenges the Cherry Hill school district faces?

“[Cherry Hill East Principal] Dr. [Dennis] Perry is one of the biggest challenges your school district faces. I’ve seen firsthand how he has stifled educational progress for students rather than fostered it.

“Another challenge this school faces is not taking sufficient advantage of the local, state, and federal educational programs that exist to better our education system. These programs are readily available to us, yet the current administration does not take advantage of them, and nobody is fighting for them.

“A third challenge this school district faces is corruption and accountability. There is no transparency as to what our current administration is doing to better the school. Transparency allows the parents of our children to be fully aware of what is going on in their educational system, and allows them to be confident that we are doing the best for their kids and keeping them safe.”

What are the biggest strengths of the Cherry Hill school district?

“The biggest strength of the school district is the community. The amazing parents and community that love their kids and want to get active are the heart and soul of our amazing school district.

“As administrators, we must do our part in fostering this activism and participation through transparency and parent events, and not stifle it, as the current district is doing.”

What are three key issues on which you would focus if elected?

“I would bring my knowledge of local, state, and federal programs—many of which I’ve learned through congressional briefing—to the current school administration to improve education for our children.

“I will provide advancements in opportunities for our children. As a student who started off in concept classes and made his way into honors and AP classes, I understand how important it is to foster a student’s education and ensure they reach their full potential.

“Add an ROTC program at both Cherry Hill high schools.”

Ken Tomlinson, Jr. Credit: Ken Tomlinson, Jr.

Ken Tomlinson, Jr., 32

Ken Tomlinson, Jr. is the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for NextFab, a Philadelphia makerspace and business incubator.

A former financial analyst and married father of three, Tomlinson, Jr. also volunteers as a scout leader.

What is your philosophy of education?

“I believe in a broad, hands-on experience for students.

“Exposure and experience with opportunities opens up a world of possibilities.

“Giving students the opportunity to explore topics and interests that don’t show up on a PARCC or SAT exam is paramount.”

Why would you like to serve on the Cherry Hill school board?

“I would like to continue to serve on the Cherry Hill Board or Education because of the work ahead.

“Over the next several years, the district will be focusing on major construction and updating of our schools. It’s crucial that these are successful for our students.”

What are the biggest challenges the Cherry Hill school district faces?

“Chronic under-funding from the state government. With local share funding 91% of our annual budget, Cherry Hill has the most lopsided funding formula in the state. Because of this underfunding, we have been slow to implement large new initiatives, like 1:1 student technology, addition of programs and/or resources.”

What are the biggest strengths of the district?

“The district wouldn’t be the success that it has been without a dedicated, committed, and passionate staff. Each layer of staffing—teachers, teacher’s aids, library, custodial, facilities, just to name a few—all have students’ best interests at heart.”

What are three key issues on which you would focus if elected?

“1:1 technology, experiential learning, and a continued fight for fair funding from the state.”

(from left) Laurie Neary, David Rossi, Sally Tong. Credit: Neary, Rossi, Tong.

Laurie Neary, David Rossi, Sally Tong

Health and wellness consultant Sally Tong, strategic sourcing manager Laurie Neary, and sales executive David Rossi elected to respond to our prompts as a slate of candidates rather than individually.

What is your philosophy of education? 

“Education must meet the needs of all students.

“We should expect the best from each student, while recognizing that every individual has their own strengths and challenges.

“Education at the preschool/elementary level should be based on best practices of early education—developmentally appropriate, integrated, and primarily hands-on learning. We must also take into account all of the social determinants that affect learning. The needs of students outside of the school will affect learning in the classroom.”

Why would you like to serve on the Cherry Hill school board? 

“Our families chose to make Cherry Hill our home for the excellent schools and wonderfully vibrant, diverse community. We are proud to be from Cherry Hill, and look forward to making our school district even better through a set of values we would each bring to the board of education.”

What are the biggest challenges the Cherry Hill school district faces?

“Planning ahead with vision in spite of the difficult financial situation we are currently facing. How to design and build facilities that are worthy of our students and appealing to homebuyers in the most fiscally responsible way.”

What are the biggest strengths of the district?

“Our teachers and students! Thanks to Cherry Hill teachers, our graduates are well prepared for higher education and training. Our teachers make the most of less-than-ideal funding and facilities. We need to ensure we keep our teachers satisfied and in-district.

“Cherry Hill is a diverse and vibrant community that prepares our children for the world at large. We should continue to embrace and celebrate the numerous ethnicities and cultures represented in our student body. Let’s do a better job hearing and respecting the voices of all our students and families.

What are three key issues on which you would focus if elected?

“Accountability: creating a culture of accountability within the district and answering to the students, staff, and residents.

“Collaboration: working with all stakeholders (including administration, staff, students, parents, and community members) to ensure everyone has a seat at the table to create a long-range vision for the future of our town’s education and reputation, which are important to all taxpayers.

“Transparency: fostering transparency through consistent, open communication and developing innovative ways to engage the community in dialogue and incorporate input into decision-making.”

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