A pilot, a law student, a business owner and a Board of Education member, Moorestown’s Brandon Pugh is a busy man. Despite his busy schedule, he is able to find time to accomplish many things and improve upon his knowledge as a board member for the Moorestown Township Public Schools.
Pugh was recently one of 15 BOE members throughout Burlington County who were recognized for “service milestones” and for achieving various levels of professional development. At the spring meeting of the Burlington County School Boards Association on May 5, Pugh received recognition for achieving three levels of board member certification, various state citations and being re-elected as president of the BCSBA.
“It is such an accomplishment. I’ve been working toward these certifications for a number of years. It is nice to have it all wrapped up … I feel very humbled by these opportunities,” Pugh said.
Pugh ran for the Board of Education in 2012 at the age of 19. Graduating from Moorestown High School, he felt Moorestown schools were unique and wanted to give back to the town he loved. He has been a board member ever since, working his way up to vice president of the board at the beginning of this year.
“I thought, being younger, I had a unique perspective and saw what was working in the schools firsthand. We had good boards, but there were some votes I didn’t agree with so I ran for the board,” Pugh said.
Pugh wanted to be as knowledgeable of an asset to the board as he could and worked to learn more about what went into running a school district. He has taken part in the county board as well as the New Jersey School Boards Association, particularly with that in getting certifications in the NJSBA’s Board Member Academy certification program.
“I think it is really important for any board member to be well versed in every area you can so you can do more of a service to your local board … It makes for a better functioning board, and I feel more comfortable making the decisions,” Pugh said.
The New Jersey School Board Academy is designed to give board members training and information on a variety of subjects related to their board duties. Those areas include, but are not limited to, labor relations, leadership, school finance, advocacy, governance, school law, negotiations and student achievement.
A certified board member is the second tier of the NJSBA’s Board Member Academy certification program. To become a CBM, a board member must have earned at least 20 credit hours of training in at least four subject areas and attended prescribed county/state meetings.
The master board member builds on the CBM. Programs are designed to enhance interpersonal and leadership skills, enabling members to better govern their schools. To receive the MBM, members must have earned a CBM, 20 additional credits, pass a comprehensive exam and additional county/state requirements.
The highest level of individual certification in the Board Member Academy is certified board leader. To be awarded the CBL, members must be a MBM and earn an additional 20 credits for a total of 60 credits from all of the core areas, pass a comprehensive exam and have service in a leadership role at the local, county and/or state level.
For all of the certifications, the board member must have served at least one term or more than three years on their local board. Pugh was able to achieve all of the requirements for all levels during his first term; he just had to wait for his three years to be finalized.
Very few board members in New Jersey have earned all three designations, especially at the same time and within a first term. Pugh said he has only known one other person in the state to achieve that this year.
Pugh felt he has learned so much and had so many experiences, from visiting the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland to experiencing boot camp while trying to obtain his certifications. He feels more rounded in various subject matters the board faces and more comfortable making decisions because of it.
In addition to the NJSBA presenting awards, state Sen. Dawn Addiego attended the meeting to present joint Senate and Assembly citations from New Jersey’s Eighth Legislative District. Rep. Tom MacArthur also prepared certificates of special congressional recognition.
“It was nice of them to do, showing board members that their time is valued,” Pugh said.
Elections were also held for the BCSBA for the 2016–2018 officers. All three officers will be continuing for a second term, which includes Pugh as president, Margaret “Peggi” Haynes of Mt. Laurel as vice president and Harry Litwack of Delanco as vice president of legislation.
Pugh hopes to continue his education as a board member and hopes all board members, no matter the district, will want to do the same.