NJ Pen Elections 2022: Meet the Collingswood School Board Candidates


This year, four Collingswood residents are running for three open seats on the borough Board of Education. We invited each of them to tell voters a bit about themselves in the lead-up to the election.

By Matt Skoufalos | October 20, 2022

On November 8, voters in Collingswood will choose from among four balloted candidates for three seats on the borough school board: challengers Kevin Carey, Kelly MaiaMeghan Mikulski, and Kate Seltzer.

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.

Kevin Carey. Credit: Kevin Carey.

Kevin Carey, 40

Collingswood Police Chief Kevin Carey is a married father of two school-aged children.

A lifelong Collingswood resident, Carey holds a master’s degree in public administration from Villanova University and a bachelor’s degree in law and justice from Rowan University.

He’s also an active community volunteer as a youth coach and board member of the Mark Newbie Elementary School PTA.

Carey enjoys spending his free time with family, golfing, and watching the Phillies.


What is your philosophy of education?

My philosophy is of education is centered on students and their varying needs. Every student is different, and a philosophy that supports students as individuals is one that speaks directly to equity.

Equity in education requires putting systems in place to ensure that every child has an equal chance for success, despite things such as race, economic means, etc. Equitable philosophies need to be adaptable, focused on students as individuals, and fair.

This philosophy of individualized, student-based education not only requires an understanding of barriers in the way of attaining equity for individuals and groups of students, but also having an ability to overcome those barriers through extra support and initiatives. Although equity cannot guarantee equal outcomes, it does allow for equal opportunity for success for each student.

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

My reason for running in this election is my passion to give back to the community where I live and am raising a family.

I have dedicated my life to public service, and am excited at the opportunity to expand on my service and commitment to our community by serving on the board. I’m passionate about making a difference in Collingswood Schools to build a positive learning environment for our children.

As an elected Board member, I believe the combination of my experience and demonstrated commitment to work alongside parents, fellow board members, staff, and students will create a learning environment focused on equity and inclusion, while ensuring we improve communication and transparency.

What are the biggest challenges your school district faces?

There are multiple challenges currently facing our district, two of the most significant being budget and infrastructure needs. Formulating a budget that can support students’ needs — most especially mental health and equity initiatives — all while trying to navigate the reduction of federal and state aid, is important.

Along with budget, there is an obvious need for infrastructure updates in the district, which is also tied to community connection, communication, and safety. We need to update facilities and expand space to allow room for programming to continue and expand. The challenge here is to meet the needs of the school, and balance those needs into fiscally responsible options that align with both school mission and town values.

There are additional challenges as well, such as the need for community connection, better communication, and improved safety. None of these challenges are new, yet none has shown any improvement. This lack of improvement shows either a bigger challenge than I can understand, or a lack of commitment from the board to address.

All these challenges require open communication, both talking and active listening, to solve them in a way that is both supportive of our students and staff and responsible to our community.

What are the biggest strengths of your school district?

As a lifelong Collingswood resident, without question, in my experience as both a student and parent, the strength of our district is the teachers and staff. Having graduated from CHS, the staff inspired me to push myself beyond what I though was possible, and had it not been for that effort, my life would have turned out much differently.

As a parent, I get a different, but aligned view of the impact our teachers and staff have. They are talented, compassionate, emotionally supportive, and do an amazing job building up and educating our future generations.

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

Budgeting: sustainability and strategic financial planning that’s fiscally responsible for the future. We need to make sound decisions that reflect the values of our school community and community at large, considering cause and effect, and working in partnership with everyone to promote budgeting needs that apply to Collingswood.

Communication: I will work to improve communication from the district to parents. Timing is everything, and the communication breakdown in our district ranges from scheduling to major events involving safety. Honest and effective communication among our community members is crucial to building trust and partnership.

Relationship building / partnerships: no one person is all-knowing, so in order to make the best decision for our district, we should be relying on partnerships with stakeholders in the community. If a board is not diverse and does not have a perspective from outside its specialties, then some decision can be made that goes against best practices or recommendations of experts in that particular field.

As a board member, I would leverage the expertise of board members, administrators, staff members, students, and community members to take a holistic look at challenges, and make decision that best serve our children and community.


Kelly Maia. Credit: Kelly Maia.

Kelly Maia, 46

Realtor Kelly Maia is a lifelong Collingswood resident and married mother of three school-aged children.

An animal lover, Maia and her family foster rescue dogs alongside their own three dogs and housecat.

Her hobbies include reading, knitting, crocheting, walking, entertaining, baking from scratch, cooking, and spending time with family and friends.


What is your philosophy of education?

I believe that all children are entitled to a good education. Our schools should work to make sure that we are engaging and meeting children where they are, helping them to learn and grow. We must do everything we can to ensure their success.

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

I have been engaged in the community for many years, including as an active PTA member at the elementary, middle, and high schools. I have been president of the Mark Newbie Elementary PTA for many years, and am driven by my ability to be a community liaison.

It is important to listen to the community, and to try to make sure that the issues important to our community members are addressed by the Board of Education. I have a broad understanding of what the needs are in a variety of grade levels because I have spent years building relationships with parents, teachers, staff and students.

What are the biggest challenges your school district faces?

Collingswood public schools are unique. We are a school district that consists of Collingswood, Oaklyn and Woodlynne students. It is our responsibility as a district to ensure we are meeting the needs of all students.

We also need to focus on what parents and caregivers have told us are important to them, including but not limited to: the safety of our students and staff, our programs serving students with special needs, student mental health, arts and music programs, the gifted and talented program, communication from the district, being more aware of the gap between parents schedules and the school calendar, and the before-and-after-care program.

Another key challenge is ensuring that we are listening to our school staff and meeting their needs as well. We must ensure that we are receiving their input in everyday decisions that affect their classrooms and their interactions with our students. We also need to focus on ensuring our staff feels valued, heard, and respected.

What are the biggest strengths of your school district?

Collingswood is an amazing community of parents, caregivers, community members, educators, staff, and amazing students. Our strength is that we care so deeply for one another, and we always have the best intentions at the forefront of our minds.

Our valued staff is another one of our great strengths. We can see how much love they have for our children through the relationships they work to build with them each day, as well as the relationships they build with their student’s families, and with their PTAs.

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

  • Building relationships between the board and the community we serve
  • Student and staff advocacy and safety
  • Improving communication


Meghan Mikulski. Credit: Meghan Mikulski.

Meghan Mikulski, 45

Educator Meghan Mikulski is an 18-year Collingswood resident and married mother of three school-aged children.

Mikulski has taught Social Studies at Cherry Hill East High School since 2000, and holds a master’s degree in history from Temple University and a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from the University of Scranton.

She is a James Madison Foundation Fellow, and sings in a madrigals group during the holidays.


What is your philosophy of education?

Providing a quality education to our children is crucial to the development of a vibrant community. The quality of that education rests on true collaboration and partnership among students, teachers, district officials, families, and the municipality. Helping to facilitate that partnership is something I look forward to doing.

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

My time as a teacher has helped me recognize the important role that Boards of Education play in developing policies that facilitate the partnerships I mentioned above. As someone who is in a public school working with students every day, I have a solid sense of what works in today’s classrooms and what doesn’t. I feel I can bring an important voice to the table.

My time as a resident of Collingswood, and my experience volunteering at our schools and on the PTA , have afforded me the opportunity to get to know so many people here in town. My relationships with Collingswood parents, teachers, and school administrators will further inform the perspectives I can bring to our Board.

It is important for town residents to volunteer their time to their community, and this is an area where I think I can make a positive impact.

What are the biggest challenges your school district faces?

The best way to ensure that all perspectives are taken into consideration when developing policy is through communication. Based on both what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard from parents and community members I’ve spoken to, transparent and honest communication from the Board and from district officials does not seem to be a priority right now.

Staff morale is another problem. Teachers are leaving the profession in droves, which has left school districts desperate for qualified educators. Our district had an unprecedented amount of turnover leading into this school year. Reasons behind this need to be examined.

Addressing these two important challenges will put us in a better position to tackle the myriad of other challenges that face educating students in the 21st century.

What are the biggest strengths of your school district?

The most important strength of Collingswood is its sense of community. Whether I’m hearing from a resident, a teacher, or an administrator, one thing consistently stands out: the admiration that all stakeholders have for the sense of belonging they have in this town.

Educators want to work here, and people want to live here because of the positive relationships they have developed in Collingswood. We need to work to maintain our sense of community by listening to and valuing all of the perspectives of those who make our town truly great.

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

The first is communication. As I’ve said, it is a challenge, and I hope to help fix it. There are many ways to promote transparency and minimize misinformation in this day and age. District websites and social media pages can be platforms to promote initiatives and provide regular updates to parents and residents.

Timing of information is also key. Working parents need to know of after-care program changes well before they go into effect. Better yet, parents need to be notified of possible changes, and be allowed to offer input about what works for them. If there is an unforeseen safety threat at a major school event, the district has the responsibility to update residents as quickly and consistently as possible.

Second is advocacy for staff and students. As I’ve mentioned, staff members need to feel valued and heard, since they are the ones supporting students on a daily basis, and I will expect respectful treatment of staff at all levels of the district.

Professional development in current education theory is important, but it must be balanced with a sincere desire to listen to those who are in the classroom every day. They are an invaluable resource as to what works and what doesn’t when supporting students and the interests of their families in a post-COVID world.

Third is the development of better relationships with a variety of stakeholders. My time teaching social studies has taught me that some of the best leaders in history have been people who take advice from others. I feel that I bring an area of expertise to the table, but I certainly don’t know everything and I recognize the need to listen to other professionals.

For example, I thought it was important for me to learn more about the schools that my own children do not attend. I reached out to all seven building principals, and they have all graciously taken the time to meet with me. I have relished the opportunity to learn more about them and the work they and their teachers do to support students.

As a Board member, I would encourage open communication between district officials and building administrators to ensure that their expertise is taken into consideration when developing policies and initiatives.

We need to ensure that in an uncertain world, our schools are safe places for our students. A sense of safety is vital to students’ mental health. A true partnership between the district and the borough is a crucial part of the relationships I’ve discussed before. Listening to the expertise of borough officials is a commonsense way to promote student safety and parent peace of mind.


Kate Seltzer. Credit: Kate Seltzer.

Kate Seltzer, 39

Rowan University education professor Kate Seltzer is a four-year Collingswood resident and mother of two young children.

Seltzer holds a doctorate in education from the CUNY Graduate Center, a master’s degree in secondary English education from Lehman College, and a bachelor’s degree in English from George Washington University.

She and her family moved to Collingswood from Queens, New York, and have enjoyed getting to know the community ever since.

In her spare time, Seltzer enjoys being outside with her family, practicing yoga, and recently took up pottery at Say it with Clay.

What is your philosophy of education?

I believe that schools should meet every student where they are, providing each with what they need and what will enable them to flourish and navigate whatever paths they choose.

To help them find those paths, schools can provide students with what Rudine Sims Bishop refers to as “mirrors and windows.” Mirrors affirm who students already are, and windows present glimpses outward, to perspectives and experiences they may not have known before and that open up new possibilities.

As schools provide these expansive educational approaches, they should also invite students to grapple with big questions and hard truths about our society and their places in it. Overall, education should be hopeful, critical, and engaging, and should cultivate in students a strong sense of self and ways of living within and contributing to their communities.

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

My whole career has been devoted to strengthening public education. I started out as a high school English teacher in New York City, and after six years of classroom teaching, I pursued my PhD in Urban Education, and began teaching and providing professional development to teachers working with bilingual students.

I am now a professor in the College of Education at Rowan University, where I teach students becoming certified to teach ESL and bilingual education.

In spring 2021, I drew on these professional experiences when I served as a member of the Collingswood Strategic Planning Advisory Committee for Vision 2026. In that role, I worked alongside members of the community to write our district’s new mission and vision statements, which emphasize equity, inclusion, and social justice.

If elected to the board, I want to help make our new mission and vision a reality, supporting and promoting progressive policies and practices that would help move our district toward greater equity.

I am highly invested in using my professional expertise to be of service, and to make this district as strong as possible for my two children and for all children. It is my belief that if we make our public schools as inclusive, supportive, and empowering as possible, our children and our community will thrive.

What are the biggest challenges your school district faces?

Since I began campaigning, the challenge that has come up most often is communication. Many families are confused and frustrated and feel that decisions are being handed down without enough explanation. The district must improve communication efforts so that our community feels secure and informed about what is happening in our schools.

Another major challenge in our district is related to equity. Our data shows that students have vastly different outcomes depending on their race, language background, socioeconomic status, and even where they live in Collingswood. To address this troubling fact, our district must prioritize efforts to produce more equitable academic outcomes for all students.

Lastly, the reality of budget constraints means that our district must be fiscally creative and innovative if we are to meet these and other challenges. I look forward to bringing a progressive, equity-focused lens to the conversation around how to allocate our resources to fulfill our mission and vision.

What are its biggest strengths?

Collingswood is a highly invested and engaged community. Teachers, administrators, parents, community members, and students love this town and its schools, and are committed to making them the best they can be.

This has been one of my biggest takeaways from campaigning for school board – people truly care about the issues and are willing to challenge what they thought they knew if it means doing right by our community’s young people.

Collingswood is also a progressive community full of diverse perspectives, and families here are hungry for critical, engaging, inclusive educational approaches. They want and are willing to advocate for more arts education, project based- and service learning, civics education, and other approaches that will holistically enrich their children’s education.

A strength of this community is that we have the engagement and the drive to come together and push for the kind of progressive educational approaches that will help our children find success and contribute meaningfully to their communities.

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

Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging: As a teacher educator and researcher, I have insights and expertise regarding professional development for teachers, program offerings for students, district-wide policies, and supportive pedagogical approaches that could address issues of equity and inclusion and help all students to find success.

If elected, I hope to bring this expertise to several target areas of Vision 2026, including diversity, equity and inclusion and programs, pathways, and proficiencies.

Communication: As a member of the school board, I would prioritize the improvement of communication practices so that district policies and decisions are as inclusive, accessible, and clear as possible. All families and stakeholders have the right to feel secure and informed about the directions of our district.

Teaching and learning: If elected, I would promote progressive approaches to curriculum, instruction, and programming that would challenge all students intellectually and support their social-emotional well-being. Students should be exposed to learning experiences that encourage them to think creatively and critically about content, about themselves, and about our society.

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