NJ Pen 2021 Election Coverage: Meet the Audubon Board of Education Candidates


We invited the candidates for the Audubon Board of Education to tell voters a little about themselves ahead of the vote. Here’s how they responded.

By Matt Skoufalos | November 1, 2021

On November 2, voters in Audubon will choose from among two balloted candidates for three seats on the borough school board.

Incumbents James Blumenstein and Allison Cox face no balloted opposition for their seats on the board, but with a third, uncontested seat also available, residents Andrea Robinson and Kelly Tomeo have announced their write-in candidacies for the governing body.

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.

Andrea Robinson. Credit: Andrea Robinson.

Andrea Robinson (Write-in Challenger)

Originally from Virginia, Andrea Robinson moved from South Philly to Audubon 13 years ago.

She currently teaches AP Environmental Science and Environmental Science to 10th graders at Camden Academy, which is part of the Camden Charter School Network. This will be her third year there, and her 22nd year as a teacher.

Robinson has taught in an Independent School, Quaker School, Public School, Charter School, GT programs and special ed programs. She chairs the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee at Camden Academy.

Robinson holds a master’s degree in science education from Virginia Tech University and a bachelor’s degree in biology. She has served on the Vestry at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Haddon Heights, as well as on the Board of Directors for the North Wind Schooner in Gloucester City.

Robinson and her wife are mothers to three children, two of whom are currently enrolled in Audubon schools, and foster dogs and kittens through the Burlington County Animal Alliance.

What is your philosophy of education?

My educational philosophy is that learning needs to be meaningful and engaging for students. I am a proponent for STEAM education and opportunities for high school experiences beyond the classroom, which might include vocational education, “College Now” programs for juniors and seniors or internship opportunities.

I believe that students who have a personal connection to the materials being taught understand and further grasp the concepts being presented. That connection can be built through a relationship with the teacher, engaging hands-on activities, flipped classrooms, and/or utilizing whatever the current trend is — i.e. TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat.

But above all, creating physically and emotionally safe spaces in schools for ALL students is my primary focus.

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

I am a teacher, a parent, and a community member. I want to serve as a voice for those who might not feel empowered to share their voice.

Perhaps they don’t have family members who mirror their identity because they are LGBTQ+ identifying. Maybe they don’t have someone who shares their racial identity in the school. Maybe they are a student who is marginalized by their peers, and doesn’t feel comfortable sharing their experience.

Although I will be proud to represent all the students in the district, I want to be intentional about listening to, and amplifying, the voices of the students, families, teachers, and community members.

Please note that my name will not appear on the ballot, and that you will need to write my name, Andrea Robinson, on the space provided. I felt compelled to run for the third open seat after seeing that only two members of the community were running for three positions. My friends and family encouraged me, because they know that I would be an asset to the board and community if elected.

What are the biggest challenges Audubon schools face?

Although New Jersey is one of the most diverse and inclusive states in the country, our district faces the challenge of lacking a diverse set of educators and administrators, which leads to a poorer educational experience for the children of the district.

I believe that when our children learn from a diverse set of educators over the course of their time in Audubon schools, they will be better prepared upon graduation to be more empathetic, higher-achieving adults, and stronger members of the community.

Figuring out the best way to manage the inevitable disruptions that will be caused by COVID this year presents a challenge to the students who must be quarantined and are missing out on an equal educational experience. Virtual schooling should be explored as an option for these students.

What are the biggest strengths of Audubon schools?

The strengths of the district are why I moved here 13 years ago. It’s a small school district that feels like family, and which provides our children with a high-quality educational experience. We have always felt that the teachers not only know our children and our family, but that they also genuinely care for and love us. Our kids have grown up with their classmates because of the community feel of the district.

The KEYS program allows working parents a fun and safe environment for their children before and after school. The sports program is both strong and inclusive, and provides opportunities for personal and athletic growth. The small size of the district means that all the students are valued as individuals. The ‘school choice program’ is an excellent opportunity to expose a diversity of thought and life experiences to not only the students of our community, but to surrounding communities as well.

Audubon has a lot of strengths, and I intend to make sure that we can continue to grow and explore more opportunities for students.

What are three key issues on which you’d like to focus if elected?

The three issues that I would focus on and bring to the attention of the board and administration would be:

  1. To expose the children in the district to a more diverse and well-rounded educational experience, through both the material that is taught and through the intentional recruitment of a more diverse set of educators and administrators. Children that learn in a more diverse environment do better academically and become stronger citizens.
  2. To ensure that the children of the district are taught comprehensive health education that is based in empathy and science, and which will give them the tools they need to make better decisions about their health as they grow. Informed children make wiser decisions about their health.
  3. To continue to promote an emotionally and physically safe environment for every student in the district, regardless of their race, sexuality, income, immigration status or anything else. Although the district has made great strides at stamping out bullying, there is much more work to be done, and I intend on making sure that we continue to learn and grow as a district in this regard. Creating physically and emotionally safe spaces in schools for ALL students is my primary focus.


Kelly Tomeo. Credit: Kelly Tomeo.

Kelly Tomeo (Write-in Challenger)

Kelly Tomeo is a married mother of two Audubon graduates and a third, school-aged child.

A 25-year Audubon resident, Tomeo is running as a write-in candidate for school board.

What is your philosophy of education?

My philosophy of education is sticking to the basics early, and expanding the mind in high school or into post-high-school studies.

However, my philosophy is just one when dealing with an entire district.

I would need to listen more to teachers, since that is their expertise.

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

After many years of watching from a distance, I feel it is time for me to lend more balance to the board. With the most recent pandemic, I saw too many instances of the board taking on too many unnecessary tasks not meant for educators. I feel it’s time to throw my hat in the ring and get to work on balance; bringing things back to the basics.

What are the biggest challenges Audubon schools face?

We seem to always have a shortfall in funds. I would like to assist in identifying programs that do not currently work, and possibly putting those funds towards programs that are in demand.

What are the biggest strengths of Audubon schools?

Our community. The wealth of knowledge of our residents range from all different careers. From judges, laborers, college professors, doctors, and municipal employees, everyone has something to offer in their experiences of what works.

What are three key issues on which you’d like to focus if elected?

  • Introduction of more trade jobs for students, as well as college programs
  • Stronger IEP programs for kids who need them; I feel we need to see what is working and what is not
  • Our school budget

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