Meet the Candidates: Haddon Township 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 | November 4, 2018

On November 6, Haddon Township voters will choose from among two balloted candidates for three seats on the borough Board of Education (BOE). Incumbent board vice-president James Lex is seeking re-election, as is incumbent board member Allison Rodman. There is no third balloted candidate for the final, open seat.

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).

Haddon Township BOE Vice-President James Lex. Credit: Haddon Twp BOE.

James Lex, 45

James Lex is the Chief Operating Officer for the Camden County Improvement Authority and incumbent vice-president of the Haddon Township Board of Education.

A 12-year Haddon Township resident and a married father of three school-aged children, Lex has volunteered with the township environmental commission as well as its recreational sports teams.

What is your philosophy of education?

“I believe education should be diverse, and should allow students to achieve success at whatever drives them.

“We need to provide an array of opportunities to allow them to seek out the skill sets to make them successful at the next levels of their lives.”

Why would you like to serve on the Haddon Township school board?

“Over the last three years, I have been privileged to serve on this board. Those past three years have taught me a lot. I would be honored to continue with the changing atmosphere that has been taking place with the Board over the past few years.

“My focus will be on working to set budgets that allow for better educational environments for students and teachers, continuing to improve school safety, progressing the communication the district has with the overall community, and working with fellow board members to set goals that are more visible to the public.”

What are the biggest challenges the Haddon Township school district faces?

“The ever-changing state budgeting system is the biggest challenge to this district. Last year, our budget was cut after we approved a budget. This year is shaping up to be the same. We will have to guard against any significant decrease, and hold the budget tight as possible.”

What are the biggest strengths of the district?

“The township community is the district’s biggest strength. Haddon Township supports this district in a variety of ways that range from supporting the arts and athletic programs to voting to approve the referendum to benefit all the schools.

“The sense of pride that the town has for the school system is amazing, and I am proud to help support that.”

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

“Continued improvements to school safety. As we have seen over the last few years, safety at schools is paramount. The district has revised the safety programs over the past year, but continued improvements still need to be made.

“Explore shared services with surrounding districts on select programs. We will need to partner with other districts to see if there are ways to save funds or improve programs.”

“Continued fiscal responsibility. Focus on budgets that fund all aspects of the education experience and are in-line with the community.”

Allison Rodman. Credit: Allison Rodman.

Allison Rodman, 37

Professional learning consultant Allison Rodman is a married mother of three who was first elected to the Haddon Township school board in 2015.

A former assistant principal for the Mariana Bracetti Academy Charter School of Philadelphia, Rodman has worked with Teach for America and as a classroom teacher in Richmond, Virginia.

What is your philosophy of education?

“I believe that schools, in collaboration with the broader community, have a responsibility to cultivate the whole child: students who are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.

“We need to meet students where they are, support them academically, socially, and emotionally, and push them to reach their full potential as informed and engaged global citizens.

“Students’ learning experiences, both inside and outside of school, should be personalized in a way that honors them as self-directed learners.

“As educators, we must work to amplify students’ voices, invite them to be co-creators in the learning process, provide consistent opportunities for students to socially construct new knowledge, and offer safe learning spaces that promote self-discovery.

“This ambitious work also calls upon us to personalize professional learning experiences for administrators, teachers, and staff members. A one-size-fits-all model of professional development will not equip educators with the mindsets and skills necessary for continuous growth and improvement.

“Schools must develop and sustain systems and programs that promote educator agency while maintaining exceptionally high expectations for student achievement and growth.”

Why would you like to serve on the Haddon Township school board?

“I have experience as a teacher, instructional coach, school leader, director of teaching and learning, and professional learning consultant. I currently provide professional learning services to districts, schools, and educational nonprofit organizations across the United States and internationally.

“Given my experience, I feel I have a civic responsibility to offer support and provide guidance where possible here in my own community of Haddon Township. I am running for re-election to grow Haddon Township’s distinction as world-class schools that create lifelong learners and adaptive problem-solvers empowered to engage as mindful members of a global society.”

What are the biggest challenges the Haddon Township school district faces?

“The biggest challenge currently facing the Haddon Township School District is continued reductions in state aid. Over the course of my current term, the district has had to grapple with both planned as well as extremely sudden reductions to our state aid allocations.

“This has required us to make very difficult decisions regarding staffing, facilities, and programs. We have worked collectively with district leadership to minimize the impact on teaching and learning, but these reductions have significantly limited our ability to enhance, augment, and refine some of our program offerings and spaces.

“Despite this challenge, NJ Monthly’s “Top 100 Public High Schools” ranked Haddon Township as 82nd this year (up from 137th in 2016). This is a testament to a strong collaborative relationship between the current administration and board.

What are biggest strengths of the district?

“The Haddon Township school district and community as a whole are deeply committed to continuous improvement and meeting the needs of all of our students.

“The district is currently working to further enhance community engagement, deepen its practice of data-driven decision-making, better support both the physical and emotional well-being of all students, and build staff-wide capacity for the integration of high impact instructional practices.”

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

“Continue to improve transparent communication between the district and parents/community. This includes advancing a positive district narrative that promotes our schools both locally and nationally.

“Support the refinement of district mission and vision statements that provide an active touchstone for goal-setting and decision-making.

“Enhance educational programming to create additional opportunities for student academic support, enrichment experiences for advanced learners, and deepened social-emotional development for all students.”

NJ Pen is free thanks to regular, small contributions. Please support our work

Get e-mails, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, or try Direct Dispatch, our new text service.


Comments are closed.