The Voyager sits down with Eastern BOE candidates

High school’s student newspaper submitted questions to the five candidates running for the board of education

The staff of Eastern Regional High School’s student newspaper, The Voyager, submitted questions to the five candidates running for Eastern’s board of education. There are two open seats. Those running include Robert Campbell, John J. Parker, Veronica Parker, John D. Rothman and Richard Teichman.

The Voyager staff asked each candidate the following five questions (Editor’s note: Some candidates addressed multiple questions in one answer):

1. Why do you think you should be elected or re-elected?
2. What distinguishes you as a candidate?
3. What connection do you have with education and high school students?
4. What is your educational philosophy?
5. What do you think makes Eastern a special place?

The candidates’ responses are below. They appeared in The Voyager’s Oct. 25 print edition, and are also posted at voyager-online.org/category/news/. The Voyager senior editorial staff includes Maanasi Natarajan ’19, Lauren Casole ’19, Julia Dodd ’19, Srishti Ramesh ’19 and Shreya Gowda ’19.

Robert Campbell

1. I have served as a member of the Eastern Regional School Board since August 2001. My experience and commitment to providing the best possible educational programs for the students qualify me as a candidate for the board. I have always done my best to serve the students and citizens of the three sending districts and have taken great pride in being a board member in such an outstanding district.

2. I have spent 30 years in education as a teacher and department chairperson in two school districts and as an administrator in Berlin Borough. My bachelor of arts and master of arts degrees are in the field of education. These experiences have provided me with the knowledge and skills to make sound judgements regarding the educational and financial decisions for the district. In addition, I have been a resident of Voorhees Township for 41 years.

3. As stated in question two, I worked in the field of education in districts that included grades pre-school through 12 and I am in my 18th year as an Eastern board member. I have also served on the Eastern District Advisory Council since its beginning and I am a member of the Berlin-Gibbsboro-Voorhees Municipal Alliance which helps to fund The Spot at the Voorhees Town Center. My two children graduated from Eastern and during their time at the high school, I was a parent volunteer for the Eastern Marching Vikings for seven years.

4. My educational philosophy, concerning Eastern High School, has been to provide the district with the resources and support to advance the educational and extracurricular programs that enable every student to succeed both in school and throughout their post-high school years as well as in the workplace of the 21st century.

5. During Eastern High School’s history of more than 50 years, it has been a very special school due to the students, staff and administration as well as the support provided by the parents and citizens of the three sending districts. The district has always attempted to create an atmosphere where all students can succeed. Eastern has an outstanding reputation and I hope to continue to assist the district in maintaining its excellent reputation.

John Parker

1 and 2. I was born and raised in Voorhees. I went to Osage, Voorhees Middle School and Eastern High School. I graduated in 1989 which was the same year I achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, which is the highest rank in Boys Scouts of America.

It has always been important for me to give back to the community and I have extensive experience volunteering and dedicating my time to serve others. I am the chairman of The Friends of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) “Party with a Purpose.” This event has raised more than $7 million over the past 13 years in the quest to conquer cancer.

I also serve as vice chairman on the board of trustees for the Virtua Foundation, a non-profit whose mission is to transform health care for everyone in South Jersey. I am the chairman-elect for 2019.

Furthermore, I’ve been recognized by Wells Fargo Advisors as a Premier Advisor, a designation that reflects a high degree of professional achievement and commitment to client service. I’ve been named one of Barron’s Top 1,200 Advisors as well as one of the Financial Times Top 400 Advisors for the last several years.

3. Our oldest son is currently a sophomore at Eastern High School and I hear directly from him and his friends what is happening.

I also have two children at VMS who will be attending EHS in the next couple of years.

4. A well diversified education including arts and sciences is important for students to become fully prepared to thrive in life.

5. Eastern High School is near and dear to my heart. It gave me the foundation to become a successful business leader today. I am always proud when I’m at Eastern because it has a great sense of community, leadership and the potential to become the №1 high school in South Jersey.

My vision is to utilize my experience to ensure fiscal responsibility, open and clear communication and safety for all students and teachers.

Veronica Parker

1 and 2. I was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. My parents moved to the U.S. to provide my siblings and I the American Dream. Education has always been important in my family. Upon moving here, I learned English and was able to attend Rutgers University a year later.

I studied biology and did research in molecular biology for a number of years. While raising my children, I got certified as a yoga and meditation teacher and created a holistic healing business to help women thrive in life. I’m also the creator and producer of the iTunes podcast Live Your Happy NOW! Conversations to open up and have an authentic, happy and fulfilled life.

Serving our community has always been a priority for me and I volunteered for local schools and organizations. I’m currently a member of Moms Demand Action and a presenter for Be SMART, promoting safe gun storage and preventing unintentional children shootings. I’m also a member of the Voorhees School Safety and Security Committee. I’m passionate about keeping our schools, students and teachers safe at all times.

3. Our oldest son is a sophomore at Eastern High School. Our daughter is in eighth grade and youngest son is in sixth grade at Voorhees Middle School. I often connect with our children and their friends to learn about what’s happening and what’s important for them.

I’m a kundalini yoga teacher at Hot Yoga Center in Voorhees, where I teach students how to reduce stress while increasing mindfulness, flexibility and strength.

4. Education has always been a priority in our family. I believe education is the doorway to the realm of infinite possibilities. Having grown up in a country without much accessibility to high quality education, I advise our children to take advantage of the incredible resources and limitless opportunities available in the U.S. and Voorhees.

5. Eastern is an amazing institution with highly qualified teachers and powerful extracurricular activities. It is a great place to discover who you really are by participating in different programs and making long-lasting friendships.Remember, everything you experience at Eastern will help you become more of you and provide you with exceptional tools to create the life of your dreams. If you believe it, you can become it!

It is my vision to ensure that safety, high-quality education and enhanced communication are priorities for Eastern High School.

John Rothman

1. With two recent graduates and a junior currently attending Eastern, I am very aware of what it takes to make a successful student. Furthermore, I have been a technology consultant for more than 20 years and one of the key skill sets needed for my role is to be familiar with the latest technology, to be able to listen, and at the same time ask the questions nobody wants to hear or are afraid to bring up. At recent Eastern meetings that I have attended, it has become very apparent to me that new ideas are not making it to the board and when information is brought up, there is nobody asking the tough challenging questions. In my opinion, it is the responsibility of a board member to actively find out the current issues that the parents, teachers and the community are concerned about and represent these concerns to make sure they are being addressed. At the same time, a board member should be looking for new ideas to discuss with constituents and propose them to the board. During my campaign, I have spoken to many people who have brought forward very relevant issues on improving Eastern that fall on deaf ears or, incredibly, leaders of the school are not aware of because somehow the information is not shared internally. With my background, I feel I have the qualifications that are needed on making sure the pulse of the community is heard and the tough questions are asked.

2. My father who is 92 and a World War II veteran instilled in me at a very early age the importance of education. He would share stories with me about the opportunity education provides and the importance that everyone gets educated. In 1983, my father took me to China to show me a country first hand how education was about to revolutionize it. When I visited China, it was a country stuck in time. Bicycles were the main form of transportation and almost everyone dressed the same. Fast forward 35 years later, the China I saw no longer exists because their leaders realized to become a modern society you needed a plan for education. My family has always practiced what it preaches and followed through on the importance of education, as I have a brother who is a professor, my sister and I both have master’s degrees, my oldest daughter is working on her PhD and my middle daughter is working on her bachelor’s of science. Between my global experience, views that everyone should have an education and with my background in modern technology consulting, I know what it takes to focus Eastern on the modern skill sets that need to be made available to all of its students.

3. As a parent of two recent graduates and a junior at Eastern, I have had connections with Eastern for almost 10 years. You can say I am very aware of the modern issues high school students face, such as college affordability, getting an education that prepares you for the future, anxiety, safety and bullying, among others. In addition, I have a brother who is a professor and we frequently discuss what skill sets high schools should be focused on to prepare students for the future.

4. My educational philosophy is very simple — preparing all students for the modern skill sets needed to be successful. If you want to pursue a trade, join the armed forces, go to college or try to get into a top university, clear opportunity paths need to be made available for all students.

5. There are many good things that go on at Eastern every day, including GT, model UN, clubs, sports teams, band, fashion, drama and others, but what makes them truly special are the students involved. I am always amazed by seeing the students run a model UN conference by themselves, winning sports tournaments, putting on award-winning shows and more. I am firm believer that if you want to keep it a special place, you have to continue to focus on making the changes needed to keep it competitive for the future, and those changes would be to help the students reach their full potential.

Richard Teichman

1. The school board provides me with an opportunity to give back to the community in a way that complements my interest in education. I want the students at Eastern Regional High School to have access to a solid academic foundation to help ensure the future careers of their choice. I continued my education for a bachelor’s of science degree at Drexel University and a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. I champion math, science and technology education and the academic curriculum in general.

As a board member, I help oversee the development of curriculum and policy for the school. It is our job to make sure the best curriculum for learning is in place and presented effectively. Balancing educational needs and the ability of taxpayers to pay for it is key for all community members. This is not to be taken lightly at Eastern, with its 2,000 students and $40 million annual budget.

2. My working career was based in industry and focused on process improvement and the development new chemical products. I see the value of education from shop floor workers to the management team.

I have been on the board for the last 23 years and have shown that I can work as part of that team to keep Eastern a high performing school. I have been part of Eastern’s District Advisory Council since its inception and get to interact with students, teachers, administration and the community. It is here we help set goals based largely on the ideas of this group. As part of Eastern’s needs I have served on the Camden County Educational Services Commission for 20 years and treasurer for 17 years, overseeing county school transportation needs and special needs education for community students in non-public school.

3. As a parent of two former students who went on to engineering degrees and rewarding jobs, I understand the need for a great secondary education. As a school board member, I have many connections with current students. At our monthly board meetings we have the student of the month, and two student representatives to the board provide overviews of their time at Eastern and their plans for the future. On occasion, we need to understand and deal with problem students. I attend the District Advisory Council meetings that are well attended by students in a less formal setting where they provide useful input. I also attend school events, plays, musicals, graduations, etc. They all help provide a flavor for the student community.

4. I come from an industrial background and held technical and management positions focused on chemical process improvement and new chemical product development during my 40-year career. Over this time I have mentored 25-plus years of chemical engineering and chemistry co-op students, as well new college graduates. During my last 10 years, I was also a mentor for groups of chemical engineering students at Rowan University. This work involved employer-sponsored industrial projects. These connections with older students help me see the need for excellent problem solving curriculums in secondary education and that it is critical for our youth to compete on the world stage. Eastern’s initiatives in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) go a long way to addressing these needs.

5. I have lived in Voorhees with my wife Jean for more than 40 years. Our boys graduated well prepared for their chosen college paths. Eastern offers a wide range of opportunities, from robotics to culinary arts, from sports to theater, and much more for all students to find a niche and grow as young adults. As a board member, I try to make sure every student has access to these opportunities.