Meet the Candidates: Collingswood BOE 2017


We invited school board candidates from each of our coverage areas to submit short biographies of themselves to inform voters ahead of the November 7 elections.

By Matt Skoufalos | November 2, 2017

This Election Day (November 7) Collingswood has an uncontested school board election, with three candidates running for three open positions. NJ Pen invited everyone on the ballot to share a little about themselves with voters. Here’s how they responded.

Kim Brooks. Credit: Kim Brooks.

Kimberly Brooks (Challenger)

Kim Brooks and her husband Shawn have lived in Collingswood for 16 years.

Their two children are fifth-graders in its public school district.

Brooks is a graphic designer who works for 7 Mile Publishing & Creative.

She is an avid PTA volunteer and advocate for special-needs children.

What is your philosophy of education?

“All students, no matter their ability, deserve an equal education and to learn with their peers.

“Hands-on small group work creates an atmosphere where students of multiple levels can work and problem-solve together, and they take away skills beyond the workbook.

“This creates a well-rounded student and richer experience.

“I believe that teachers should be provided the tools, education and support for what a classroom looks like now and moving forward. Classrooms are diverse, with different levels of learners, and everyone can learn from each other.

“Student achievement should be the focus at all levels of learning. That happens when our teachers are free to use their expertise and creativity.”

Why would you like to serve on the Collingswood school board?

“After being a highly involved parent at school for the past eight years, writing many IEP’s and being involved in multiple advocacy groups, becoming a school board member seemed like a natural next step.

“With my children moving to middle school next year, it will allow me the time and energy to be a fully involved board member. I have enjoyed being involved at Zane North and Sharp school as a volunteer, and am excited about this new chapter of volunteerism. A lot is happening in our schools and I want nothing more than to build upon that success.”

What are the biggest challenges for Collingswood schools?

“An ongoing challenge for our district is supporting all students, whether they’re gifted students, special education, or English-language support. True inclusion is not just attending PE, art, and music with general education students. It’s a spot in that classroom, a place to hang your coat and start the day, and a place to become a part of that class, not just a visitor.

“Recently, communication has become an ongoing topic. The current board has taken steps to create stronger communication for the public, and I look forward to using my marketing and communication skills to further enhance their efforts.”

What are the biggest strengths of Collingswood schools?

“The staff at our schools are amazingly caring people who go above and beyond in not only teaching in the classroom, but also supporting the emotional growth of students. Our diversity offers a richer environment to learn, and is one of the reasons we chose to move to Collingswood.

“When asked to help, whether it’s laying sod on a playground, or sitting in a dunk tank, our community steps up, and volunteers. This is an advantage for our students, because many things would not happen if it weren’t for volunteers giving or their time and skills.”

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

• Improvement in special education at all levels that supports best practices and meaningful inclusion.
• Community engagement through creating a parent advocacy group that works with the Board as a subcommittee.
• Address the achievement gap through the development of policy that addresses those specific needs.

Fiona Henry. Credit: Shawn Dougherty.

Fiona Henry (Incumbent)

Collingswood resident Fiona Henry has spent seven of her 22 years in the borough serving on the local board of education, and her three children graduated from the Collingswood public school system.

Henry is a supplemental instruction teacher who has taught for 18 years at the middle school, high school, and community college levels

What is your philosophy of education?

“All students can learn and be challenged to reach their potential.

“Good schools create innovative programs that allow learners to grow on an individual level.

“Good teachers help students self-assess, set goals, and develop as learners, breaking past self-perpetuating ideas of academic strengths or weaknesses. Finally, great schools create a sense of community that goes beyond academics.”

Why would you like to serve on the Collingswood school board?

“I am committed to education, as I have volunteered in the school district for many years (seven of those years serving on the school board), and I work in education. I feel our schools hold a central position in the community. I am excited that the current board has experienced members and newer members who can support a shared vision of success for our schools.”

What are the biggest challenges for the Collingswood school district?

“Challenges for the district include reducing achievement gaps, improved community engagement, and planning for the future in a fiscally responsible manner.”

What are the biggest strengths of the Collingswood school district?

“Strengths of the district include the dedication of our administration, teachers and staff and the district’s commitment to professional development and curriculum writing. Additionally, a strength is the wide variety of enriching extracurricular programs that not only develop and showcase students’ skills, but in many cases, encourage good character and community involvement.”

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

“Student achievement, community engagement, and responsible planning for the future are three important areas of focus. The Collingswood Board of Education welcomes community involvement and seeks to engage citizens in the processes that directly impact our students academically, socially, and otherwise. A strong district will be aware of and adapt to the needs of our community now, while also looking to the future.”

Antonina Miller. Credit: Antonina Miller.

Antonina Miller (Incumbent)

Nina Miller is a 12-year Collingswood resident, PTA volunteer, and mother of two school-aged sons.

She joined the local board of education in December 2016 as a replacement for Rob Lewandowski, who left the board when he was appointed borough commissioner.

Miller works as a senior enterprise risk management analyst at Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in business management, a master’s degree in business administration, and an associate’s certificate in risk management (ARM).

What is your philosophy of education?

“Everyone is an educator, in and out of the classroom; however, it is in our schools where student achievement and enrichment begins.

“How we can enrich our students through the curriculum so they are able to achieve overall success in and out of school is extremely important.”

Why would you like to serve on the Collingswood school board?

“Our schools and our community are deeply committed to the future and success of our students, and I would love the opportunity to see our programs expand even more. I believe that serving on the board would allow the opportunity to be part of promoting this.”

What are the biggest challenges for the Collingswood school district?

“Funding, community engagement, and inclusion.”

What are the biggest strengths of the Collingswood school district?

“Our curriculum and music/arts program, and our students and educators.”

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

“Increased community engagement; ensuring student enrichment through our curriculum; and promoting diversity and inclusion throughout the district.”


**Editor’s Note: Candidates who did not respond to our request for information may opt to e-mail answers to our prompts along with a photograph as late as 9 a.m. Monday, November 6. We will not update these profiles beyond that time.

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