Meet the Candidates: Haddon Twp. BOE 2015


We invited school board candidates from each of our coverage areas to submit short biographies of themselves to inform voters ahead of Tuesday’s elections.

By Matt Skoufalos

Tuesday is Election Day, and Haddon Township, like many towns in the area, has a contested school board election, with six candidates running for four positions (Craig Roncace is running for an unexpired term). We put out an open invite to everyone on the ballot to share a little about themselves with voters.**

Here’s how they responded.


Renee Billingsley

Renee Billingsley (challenger)

Philadelphia native Renee Billingsley and her family have lived in Haddon Township for the past nine years. Billingsley has a daughter and son who both attend Van Sciver Elementary School, where she is an involved PTA parent.

A teacher in the Mount Laurel school district for the past 16 years, Billingsley also holds a master’s degree in Educational Leadership. She has never held public office.

Philosophy of Education:

“The essence of education is seen in our children’s social, emotional, and academic growth through exchanges with their peers, teachers, and other school personnel.

“Every classroom presents a unique set of learners. I believe our schools should provide students with a well-rounded education that meets their individual needs and cultivates growth. This can be accomplished by providing our students, teachers and schools with the necessary tools to keep up with our vastly changing world.

“Students need to be prepared for these changes by learning how to effectively communicate and collaborate with their peers. They need to be provided with the opportunity to think critically and creatively both in and out of the classroom. I believe education should provide an environment for student-centered learning to take place that enables students to obtain life-long learning.”

Why would you like to serve on the school board?

“I want to do my part in helping the children of Haddon Township receive the best possible educational experience. As a veteran educator, I have taught during years where the school budget has passed and years when it has not. I’ve taught in years where our teacher contract was settled quickly and in years when I worked without an updated contract. When federal, state and/or local funding is cut, I see how this directly affects students and learning.

“I want to be the voice of the classroom at Board meetings. I’d like to share my 16 years of experience with my fellow Board members as we make vital decisions that affect our children. More particularly, my career in teaching and the committees that I have served on allowed me to help write district goals that align with students’ needs while keeping district finances in mind.

“I have had the opportunity to develop new curriculum standards and choose materials and textbooks. After undergoing a few years of the new teacher evaluation system, I have the knowledge and experience to help establish conditions that would enable administrators to effectively evaluate district staff. I have had the opportunity to teach a diverse group of classes that range from advanced math classes to inclusion classes with special needs students. Through my first-hand experience, I am knowledgeable of the Common Core Standards and PARCC test.”

What are the biggest challenges for Haddon Township schools?

“Operational transparency and cooperation across all levels of our community is necessary in sustaining our awesome schools. I think every school district is faced with the challenge of student achievement. I believe many voices need to be involved in defining what student achievement means to our community, our teachers, and our administrators. I also think once student achievement is more colorfully defined, we need to create open lines of communication among the Board of Education, administrators, and teachers to dialogue about how we should best go about achieving our goals.”

What are the biggest strengths of Haddon Township schools?

“I believe the two biggest strengths are Haddon Township’s strong sense of community and our amazing teachers and administrators. The teachers and administrators work with our children every day to create a safe, positive and imaginative learning environment. They create a culture in the school that enhances student growth academically, socially and emotionally. Without them, our schools would just be buildings with bricks and windows.”

Allison Rodman

Allison Rodman

Allison Rodman (challenger)

Allison Rodman is an Assistant Principal and Director of Professional Development at Mariana Bracetti Academy, a K-12 Title I school in Philadelphia, where she has previously served as a lead teacher, instructional coach, and Director of Teaching and Learning.

Her work has included curriculum development and refinement, staff recruitment, job descriptions and evaluations for leadership and instructional positions, and personalizing teacher professional development.

Rodman is an executive committee member and Director of Communications for PhillyCORE Leaders and holds a M.S.Ed. from the University of Pennsylvania with a concentration in educational leadership. She and her husband Doug have three children: Cameron, Aislinn, and Lola.

Rodman has never held public office.

Philosophy of Education:

“I believe students are unique individuals with their own interests, strengths, growth opportunities, and personalities. It is educators’ responsibility to foster positive relationships with students, and act as facilitators rather than deliverers of knowledge. Students should drive their own inquiries and engage in meaningful and authentic assignments.

“Life does not fit in neatly defined boxes, and learning experiences should be “messy” if we are truly preparing students for the real world. The endgame should not be a series of bubbles on a standardized test, but rather, cultivating citizens who are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.”

Why would you like to serve on the school board?

“I believe my professional experience coupled with my personal investment in the Haddon Township community make me a strong candidate for school board. Through the years, I have been committed to community service. I was a local Girl Scout and earned my Gold Award. In college, I was the National Student Coordinator for Hunger and Homelessness, and started a food recovery program on my campus. Currently, I am an executive committee member and the Director of Communications for PhillyCORE Leaders, a diverse coalition of leaders whose mission is to build a more positive and collaborative education community.

“As a parent in Haddon Township, I have been searching for the most meaningful way to become involved that best leverages my experience and skills. Recent district challenges with the bond referendum, teachers’ contract, and PARCC have encouraged me to step forward and seek election. It is my hope that I am able to support the community by bringing a fresh perspective, new ideas, and open communication to push our schools to an even greater level of excellence.”

What are the biggest challenges for Haddon Township schools?

“The biggest challenge for Haddon Township schools is continuing to support and celebrate the whole child in an environment that has become more and more focused on standardized tests. While tests are one measure, they are not the only measure of student progress. Similarly, we need to find ways to recognize our teachers’ hard work amid shrinking budgets and rising costs.”

What are the biggest strengths of Haddon Township schools?

“The biggest strength of our town is also the biggest strength of our schools: we are a true community. While we do not always share similar views, we respect one another, and operate first and foremost in the best interests of our children. If elected to the school board, I pledge to uphold these values. Five years from now, I would like to see Haddon Township as a leader in technology integration, strong teacher/board relationships, and college and career readiness.”

Craig Roncace

Craig Roncace

Craig Roncace (unexpired term)

Craig Roncace and his wife Deborah are parents of three children who are all active in the Haddon Township School District.

Roncace is Director of Facilities for Temple University Ambler Campus, where he has worked since 2003. He holds a 2-year turfgrass degree from Rutgers, a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management from Eastern University, and a master’s degree in Business Administration from Temple University.

Roncace has coached HTAA youth soccer and baseball, is an avid golfer and runner, and enjoys spending time with family and friends. Prior to serving on the Haddon Township Board of Education, he had never held public office.

Philosophy of education:

“I think our children deserve the best opportunity a school district can provide. A safe and high quality learning environment needs to be a district goal. Offering a challenging, fair, and well-rounded education is imperative for a successful school district. Enhancing a student’s learning experience with high-quality faculty, outstanding leadership, AP classes, and strong extracurricular programs will help ensure our children receive a quality education.”

Why would you like to serve on the school board?

“I am running to offer my support to a school district that I believe in. Haddon Township has always had a strong and fair district, offering a product that I am proud to be a part of. The teachers and administrators do a wonderful job with our children each and every day. As an elected official of the board, I feel I will be able to help support our programs, the faculty and staff, and above all else, our students and community.”

What are the biggest challenges for Haddon Township schools?

“One of the biggest challenges for our district is balancing the district wants and needs with the limited amount of resources available. We are currently involved in a district-wide capital improvement plan; understanding and managing the future incremental costs associated with this project, all while continuing to offer a formidable educational experience to our youth, will be an arduous task.”

What are the biggest strengths of Haddon Township schools?

“A well informed and supportive community, strong academic standards, high-quality faculty and staff, and a student body eager to learn as it grows towards its goals.”

Other Balloted Candidates

Also appearing on the ballot Tuesday are incumbents James R. Lex, Jr., Robert D. Brown, and Marie Dezii.


**Editor’s Note: Candidates who did not respond to our request for information may opt to e-mail their answers to our prompts and a photograph as late as 9 a.m. Monday, November 2. We will not update these profiles beyond that time.

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