NJ Pen 2020 Election Coverage: Meet the Audubon Board of Education Candidates


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

By Matt Skoufalos | October 16, 2020

On November 3, voters in Audubon will choose from among four balloted candidates for three seats on the borough school board.

Incumbent Gina Osinski and challengers Joe Miller, Christopher Proulx, and Ed Simpson appear on the ballot.

We invited everyone to reply to the same set of prompts, telling voters about themselves, their priorities, and their views of the current state of the community. Answers were edited for clarity and length.

Joe Miller. Credit: Joe Miller.

Joe Miller, 24 (Challenger)

Mortgage loan processor 
Joe Miller is a graduate of Audubon public schools whose interests include golfing, visiting the beach, fishing, politics, traveling, hiking, and reading.

What is your philosophy of education?

When taking a look at public education, I personally feel that community involvement and the quality of education is a crucial symbiotic relationship.

As residents of Audubon, we all need to unite to strengthen the youth, and to give them great examples of what an outstanding citizen looks like.

While taking this “at large” route, I also feel that individualized learning is needed for each and every child.

We should ensure our faculty (and all forms of supervision) is truly there for each student. When I was in school, any teacher that took a specified interest in my education always made a lifelong impact to build me in a beneficial way, and this is the same experience I want for all of our children!

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

I would like to serve on the Board of Education for one reason: to ensure the youth of this community have a great education and all the resources they need to be successful. After my graduation from the University of Maine, I wanted to give back to the area that helped shape me in an enormously positive manner.

What are the biggest challenges your school district faces?

The Audubon education system is truly extremely strong and unified; however, like any community, there are challenges we all face as a whole. Firstly is the one that is on everyone’s mind, and rightfully so: the coronavirus flipped everything we knew about education upside down. However, we all adapted amazingly well with all the necessary changes to keep each child and their loved ones safe.

One of the biggest challenges I see occurring is this overall transition. Thankfully, this challenge is only temporary, and we will get through it. Another issue I see is that of our school district’s math and reading scores. The New Jersey public school proficiency average for math is 42 percent; Audubon is at 31 percent. Alongside this, our schools’ reading proficiency score is at 50 percent, while the state average is 55 percent.

What are its biggest strengths?

Despite these challenges, however, we can use our strengths to bounce back. Our community is full of caring individuals inside and outside the school walls. The Audubon faculty is so caring that enhancing our overall proficiency is completely possible and can be just as temporary as the COVID crisis!

“Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.”
― Mattie J.T. Stepanek

Name three key issues on which you would focus if elected.

  • COVID-19, and how we can best transition back to normal, healthy, and safe education for all children, their families, and school faculty.
  • Increasing test scores while also keeping the students engaged and challenged to keep working towards success within each of their own educational careers.
  • Connecting the diverse community of Audubon with the schools themselves through beneficial programs such as a community clean-up day.


Gina Osinski. Credit: Gina Osinski.

Gina Osinski (Incumbent)

Gina Osinski is a certified registered dental assistant at the Ancora Psychiatric Hospital dental clinic.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in business and multiple technical certifications related to dentistry.

Osinski is a married mother and 14-year Audubon resident.

What is your philosophy of education?

As a parent and a school board member, I find it difficult to subscribe to just one type of educational philosophy.

I feel that my philosophy is both progressive and essential in nature.

I do believe that common core knowledge is necessary to form a foundation for children to build upon in learning both academia as well as life skills.

I also firmly believe that because of differences in both personality as well as learning, children need to be considered multifaceted. It is important for them to be educated, not just the sum of one part. They need to take an active part in their learning.

When students leave high school, they should have learned how to be productive members of society, but they should also be capable of solving problems in the real world. They should be prepared for whatever comes next, whether that is college, learning a trade, serving in the armed forces, or joining the work force.

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

I want to serve on the school board because I find it a rewarding way of giving back to my community. It is a privilege to serve the district, especially the children. I do not want to be one of those people/parents who constantly complains about issues or about decisions that are being made. I want to try and help find solutions by being involved in the decision-making process.

What are the biggest challenges your school district faces?

I believe that 2020 has presented our district with the biggest challenge it has ever had to deal with. I am sure that other districts would agree that the task at hand is daunting. We are left with having to attempt to adequately and equally educate all our students while simultaneously keeping them, as well as staff, safe during this COVID-19 pandemic. It has proven to be very tricky with an aging school infrastructure.

What are its biggest strengths?

I believe the biggest strength of our school district is how dedicated and close-knit the staff and families of our community have proven to be during such a difficult time during the pandemic. The support given by everyone has been wonderful to see. I also believe that our technology capability has proven to be a strength, as we have only had minor issues during the remote learning so far.

Name three key issues on which you would focus if elected.

The most important issue that I would concentrate on at this time is making sure that each student is receiving an equitable education during both remote and hybrid learning models. I realize that this is a challenging time, and I recognize the challenges it presents for teachers, administrators, students and families alike.

Getting kids back into school is an obvious issue for many reasons. Children need continuity, as do their families. It has been a difficult decision going to a full remote start for the first semester, and the decision was not made lightly.

Safety within the buildings during the pandemic for students and staff is important, too. Strict protocols must be in place to keep the children and staff at the lowest risk possible for catching and spreading this virus.

Of course, there are always the traditional issues that are common to many school districts, such as budget shortfalls and the like; however, I feel that the current situation warrants immediate attention for the time being.

Christopher Proulx. Credit: Christopher Proulx.

Christopher Proulx (Challenger)

Born and raised in Audubon, Christopher Proulx holds a degree in music education from the College of New Jersey.

A 12-year educator and father to a school-aged child, Proulx has taught at home and abroad in Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, and China.

What is your philosophy of education?

My philosophy of education is threefold: everyone can learn and grow, empathy is the most important quality to teach and model for students, and our schools must do a better job of equipping our children with the critical thinking skills they need for the 21st century.

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

I am running for school board to represent my friends and neighbors, and to represent parents of younger students, as I myself am a parent of a 6-year-old daughter.

What are the biggest challenges your school district faces?

COVID-19 is the biggest challenge currently facing Audubon. We should continue to look for ways to better deliver instruction during this pandemic, and to better prepare for any future virtual schooling.

What are its biggest strengths?

Audubon is a tight, proud, patriotic community. The involvement of parents in extracurricular activities is an excellent example of this.

Name three key issues on which you would focus if elected.

If elected, I will focus on listening and representing my constituents. I will be eager to learn what changes to the curriculum we can make to offer students more vocational education, and more accurate information about the history of our country and the role native peoples and minorities have played.

I will work as hard as possible to learn how the board functions, how I can help, and how I can build a consensus.

Ed Simpson. Credit: Ed Simpson.

Everett “Ed” Simpson (Challenger)

Everett “Ed” Simpson is a certified civil trial attorney and longtime Audubon resident.

A parent of three Audubon High School graduates and grandfather of five, he is an Air Force Reserves veteran and longtime community volunteer.

Simpson has been the borough Little League’s Umpire-in-Chief, co-director of its youth wrestling program, and VP of its Grapevine Wrestling League.

Elected to the borough board of education in 2016, he chaired its human relations and education committees.

Simpson holds a Doctorate of Law, a Drexel MBA, and a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers.

What is your philosophy of education?

Beyond the socialization process, in which we are currently lacking due to the COVID-19 shutdown, and certainly exposure to the arts and sports, I believe that education can serve two purposes:

  1. to teach children how to think logically to improve their ability to analyze across multiple disciplines to survive in our complex world
  2. to teach children how to learn how to earn for their future, usually in the context of intentionally choosing their next steps after high school: joining the workforce, the military, taking up a trade apprenticeship, or attending college and understanding how to get into the college of their choice.


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

As those who have participated with me in community activities for many years will agree, I have always held the families and students in Audubon in the highest regard.

As the environment in which the local schools operates becomes more challenging, I believe I can make a positive contribution through my participation on the local board, whether it be with private donors seeking grant funding to displace depleting state funds, or contributing to the overall discussion of issues that are presented.

What are the biggest challenges your school district faces?

Operating in a complex and diverse society, the schools must maintain continuous transparency and communication with other community organizations.

Up until 2018, Audubon schools have enjoyed a relatively calm period in a contentious society, but the students may not have advanced academically as much as they might have, particularly in mathematics and offering basic introduction to the trades.

Recognizing that funding is a key issue and in consideration of minimizing its impact to the local community, I would work with professionals for a self-funded or grant-stipend-supported trade and robotics programs as well as more student access to advanced placement (AP) courses.

What are its biggest strengths?

I’ve worked with Audubon youth and families for over 30 years, and have found them dedicated and willing to pursue their goals.

In addition, the dedicated teachers and administrators of the Audubon Schools are tremendously creative and work tirelessly to maintain the integrity of the education in the district, working with whatever the state and federal governments have presented to them and within the budget of the community.

Name three key issues on which you would focus if elected.

The immediate issue to resolve is to get the kids back into the classroom.

While some parents and their children may choose to opt out and continue with Zoom, which I would support if requested by a parent, it’s my understanding that the majority of families in Audubon want their kids back in school. Complaints include a lack of homework and that Thursday has become a second Monday to our students.

Our sending district, Mt. Ephraim, is sending their kids five days a week for a half a day. Other districts to our south are using a hybrid schedule of two days in class and two days on Zoom, which is how Audubon was set to go up until the August Board of Education meeting.

Even though the current return date for a “hybrid” school experience in Audubon is scheduled right after Election Day, there’s nothing that would prevent continuation of the status quo without some negotiation and accommodation. I would focus on those issues necessary to keep our students in the classroom.

I would then proceed to continue to work with the curriculum administrator in testing and procuring the new mathematics curriculums for the fourth, fifth, and eleventh grades. Further, and as needed, I would work with Operations to secure funding for new HVAC units and to begin subrogation for funds for updating the floor in the auxiliary gym.

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