Meet the Candidates: Oaklyn BOE 2017


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

By Matt Skoufalos | November 2, 2017

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

Therese Marmion. Credit: Therese Marmion.

Therese Marmion (Incumbent, Unexpired Term)

Therese Marmion is the director of major Gifts at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

Marmion, a mother of two, was appointed to the Oaklyn Board of Education in January 2017 to fill one of its two vacated positions.

What is your philosophy of education?

“I grew up in New York as the child of a long line of educators, including my parents, grandfather, aunts, and uncles.

“I have seen first-hand the profound effect a teacher can have on not only a student but also the student’s family. I believe that schools can and should serve as the heart of a community. Their successes or failures can have a significant impact on every resident of the town.

“Having worked in higher education at the University of Pennsylvania for the past 10 years, I place a high value on investing in a child’s education early on in order to insure their future successes.”

Why would you like to serve on the Oaklyn Board of Education?

“My family and I are devoted to the Oaklyn Public School (OPS) and to our town. Our daughter is in first grade at OPS, and her two siblings will follow her in a few years. In the small amount of time that we have lived here, we have been quite impressed with how welcoming this tight-knit community has been, and we are excited to be active participants in its growth and development.

“When the opportunity to serve on the board arose, I jumped at the chance. My time on the board has been quite fulfilling, and I would like to continue to work with my fellow board members to make OPS, its students, and its staff as successful as possible.”

What are the biggest challenges for the Oaklyn school district?

“It’s no secret that the Oaklyn budget will have some significant challenges in its not-to-distant future. I have already been impressed with how Oaklyn has taken proactive steps to safeguard the budget, like sharing services with Collingswood, which has reaped great rewards.

“As a member of the Board and a resident of our community, I look forward to working with our board leadership, the Collingswood board of education, and our superintendent to find the best solution that puts all of our students’ needs first. I have no doubt that we will be able to do so in the coming year.

“I think that the fact that we’re a small district is both a challenge and an opportunity. The smaller number of students means that things like standardized test scores hold so much more weight per student than in larger districts. That being said, the small class sizes make for a really special learning environment where the students feel supported and the parents feel included in their children’s education.”

What are the biggest strengths of the Oaklyn School District?

“The staff and teachers at the Oaklyn Public School impress me more and more every day. Whenever I talk to OPS graduates or parents of graduates, they invariably comment on the dedication and ability of the OPS staff and teachers. As a fellow parent, I couldn’t agree more.

“A perfect example of this is the school’s “#bekind” initiative. Anti-bullying campaigns are standard these days, but OPS has taken it a step further to not only condemn mean behavior but to also shine a spotlight on good behavior. Personal accounts of small gestures of kindness are plastered all over the walls of the school. Students are awarded for exhibiting fine character traits. It is obvious that the school wants each child to learn all that they can, but it’s also clear that they care about the whole student and making them good people as well.

“During my time on the board of education, I’ve been impressed with the school’s focus on curricular goals. There has been a steady increase in the use of technology, the inclusion of STEM-focused lessons, and an emphasis on reading and writing comprehension across classes and disciplines. I admire the forward-thinking attitude of the school’s administration, which is perfectly summed up in the school’s motto—“Yet…”

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

“If elected, I would like to continue my work on the Finance, Facilities, and Shared Services Committee of the board. As such, I would be focused on our committee’s goal to present to the Oaklyn board of education and Oaklyn community a concrete plan concerning the potential expanded send-receive relationship with the Collingswood Public Schools.

“As a member of the board, I will support our board’s 2017-2018 goal to develop curricula aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. There is a solid plan to accomplish this goal that involves collaborative professional development and curricula writing among Oaklyn and Collingswood teachers. I am in absolute agreement that this plan will raise our students’ comprehension across content.

“Finally, as a Board member, I feel a duty to help improve the communication between the community and the school and to act as an advocate for our students at every opportunity.”

Rich Taibi. Credit: Rich Taibi.

Rich Taibi (Incumbent, Unexpired Term)

Rich Taibi is principal of the Dorothy L. Bullock School in Glassboro and a father of two.

Like Marmion, he was appointed to the Oaklyn Board of Education in January 2017 to fill one of its two vacated positions.

What is your philosophy of education?

“As an educator and building principal, I believe that it is our duty to meet the social-emotional and instructional needs of all the children in our community.

“In order to achieve this, we must ensure a positive learning environment that focuses on data-driven instructional practices, social-emotional supports such as school-wide PBS (Positive Behavior Supports), and community outreach.

“Our children must be ready to face the challenges of the future and it is up to each of us – parents, teachers, administrators, board members and the community – to make this happen by working together!

Why would you like to serve on the Oaklyn Board of Education?

“I have been a passionate educator since 2001, and can’t imagine going anything else! Since then, I have impacted countless students as a music teacher and as a school principal. My hope as a member of the Oaklyn board of education is to help ensure that the children of Oaklyn receive all the educational opportunities they need to be successful, and to help impact their lives in a positive way as well!

“Having the opportunity to combine my love for our community with my love for education is such an exciting prospect, and I am looking forward to supporting the OPS faculty/administration in their/our mission!”

What are the biggest challenges for the Oaklyn school district?

“One of the biggest challenges we face in education is maximizing the funding we have available to ensure that our students’ needs are met. OPS is no different in this situation, as we seek to provide our children with cutting-edge programming and technology (along with the necessary professional development for teachers to support these initiatives).

“In Oaklyn, we have the additional burden of addressing the current sending/receiving relationship with Collingswood in a way that is practical for both communities. This has been an ongoing conversation amongst both school boards and my ability to view this situation as both a taxpayer and educator will play a valuable role as we develop our plan moving forward.”

What are the biggest strengths of the Oaklyn school district?

“As a parent of a Kindergartener and a second-grader, I can say first-hand that our biggest strength as a district is our sense of community. Whether it is through the PTA, OMAYSC, or our various community events, the OPS faculty and staff are always there to support our children and their families, and when they are unable to attend events, they are only a quick e-mail or Facebook post away! It is a wonderful thing to know that the “Taibi Girls” are loved and supported by every adult they come into contact with throughout the school day!”

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

“If elected, my main focus as a board member, much like my focus as an educator, will be to support curriculum/instruction and student learning. This will include providing feedback and support to the district administration as they review programming and student achievement data.

“As an educator, I am also in the unique position to act as a community liaison and provide insights regarding our instructional practices by steering parents and the community in the right direction. This is a crucial role of any board member, and I will work to ensure that the community and board of education are always working together. Lastly, I hope to play a role in facilitating the conversation between the Oaklyn board of education and that of Collingwood so we can do what is best for our community and our children!”

Other Balloted Candidates

Also appearing on the November 7 ballot are incumbent board vice-president Jennifer Cassel and board member Colleen Faupel.


**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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