Meet the candidates: Monroe Township Board of Education

Planning on voting on Nov. 5? Here’s the rundown on who’s vying for a spot on the Monroe Township Board of Education:

Name: Mike D’Andrea
Occupation: Public and government affairs professional

A Voice for Progress: Conflict-free. Fact-based.

  • We don’t possess any conflicts: we will be able to fully participate in all board votes.
  • We don’t work for profit-based organizations who do (or seek to do) business with the district.
  • We don’t have any family members employed in the district.
  • We don’t buy/sell votes based on contracts/jobs: we will form opinions, make decisions and take actions based on facts.

There is no “I” in team – Mike joins the team focused on progress, which is more capable and stronger as a result of the team’s collective experiences and perspectives.

We will pursue responsible government of our school district – on behalf of students and their families, as well as for our taxpayers.

We are committed to educational attainment and outcomes – we will develop a vision with actionable goals to equip students for success, exceed standards and pursue innovative programs/services.

Our students deserve progress – with plans, programs and services that effectively meet their unique learning needs.

We strive to be dutiful and intentional in our business and financial conduct – our approach will be to govern with comprehensive information from which we can make informed, intelligent decisions.

Our taxpayers deserve progress – an annual 2 percent budget increase “because the district can” is neither defensible nor sustainable.

A Voice for Progress believes that progress is within our grasp – we seek to stimulate cultural change in order to do business without the baggage of conflicts, limited/missing information and special interests:

Progress = Our district needs to rid itself of special interests that have conducted how business has been done – we need to ensure fair and open process, where contracts and jobs are fairly and openly transacted.

Progress = Our district needs to demand accountability, openness and transparency from administration.

Progress = Our district needs to embark on a new journey to transform its identity, performance and reputation.

Mike is a public and government affairs professional with the EPA. Integrity and intellect complement problem-solving, making Mike an approachable and valuable addition to the board of education.

Mike is well rounded and grounded, valuing family time and involvement in youth sports. Mike seeks to resolve the lack of transparency and accountability on the board and school administration. Mike has two daughters, both graduates of WHS, and one son, a student at WMS.

Name: Jennifer Lewis-Gallagher

Occupation: Information Strategy Executive

A Voice for Progress: Conflict-free. Fact-based.

  • We don’t possess any conflicts: we will be able to fully participate in all board votes.
  • We don’t work for profit-based organizations who do (or seek to do) business with the district.
  • We don’t have any family members employed in the district.
  • We don’t buy/sell votes based on contracts/jobs: we will form opinions, make decisions and take actions based on facts.

There is no “I” in team – Jennifer joins the team focused on progress, which is more capable and stronger as a result of the team’s collective experiences and perspectives.

We will pursue responsible government of our school district – on behalf of students and their families, as well as for our taxpayers.

We are committed to educational attainment and outcomes – we will develop a vision with actionable goals to equip students for success, exceed standards and pursue innovative programs/services.

Our students deserve progress – with plans, programs and services that effectively meet their unique learning needs.

We strive to be dutiful and intentional in our business and financial conduct – our approach will be to govern with comprehensive information from which we can make informed, intelligent decisions.

Our taxpayers deserve progress – an annual 2 percent budget increase “because the district can” is neither defensible nor sustainable.

A Voice for Progress believes that progress is within our grasp – we seek to stimulate cultural change in order to do business without the baggage of conflicts, limited/missing information and special interests:

Progress = Our district needs to rid itself of special interests that have conducted how business has been done – we need to ensure fair and open process, where contracts and jobs are fairly and openly transacted.

Progress = Our district needs to demand accountability, openness and transparency from administration.

Progress = Our district needs to embark on a new journey to transform its identity, performance and reputation.

As an information strategy executive, Jennifer has critical business and financial management skills that are imperative for effective and responsible business conduct. These will enable her to make important contributions as a board of education member – from day one.

Jennifer values community involvement and educational attainment. She additionally seeks to improve communication, engagement and enhanced integration between district and community. Jennifer has two daughters who attend WMS.

Jennifer possesses an MBA in management, as well as a BA in communications – both from Rutgers University; she is graduate of WHS.

From left: Theresa Terzian, Tiffany Grandison, James Henderson

Name: Tiffany Grandison

Name: James Henderson

Name: Theresa Terzian

James Henderson, Tiffany Grandison, and Theresa Terzian are all pleased to announce their candidacy for the Monroe Township Board of Education. James is a retired educator with over 46 years of experience. James stays active in his church, Camden County Special Olympics, as well as many other community organizations. Tiffany Grandison works for a non-profit and has over 15 years experience in education. Tiffany is active in the PTO in two different schools in Monroe, is secretary of the NAACP of Gloucester County, and 2nd vice president of the Gloucester County Federation of Women Voters. Theresa Terzian has over 22 years experience in the safety/transportation industry and currently works as lead dispatch for the N.J. State Police on the Atlantic City Expressway. Theresa is active in her church as she serves as the clerk for the church, as well as a board member for the Vine Haven Christian School in Vineland. James, Tiffany and Theresa want to run to help their community. Some of the pressing items they look to focus on are facilities management, programs improvement, and open/honest government. We look to implement a proper preventative plan for all facilities which includes quarterly inspections while also putting a repair plan of action in place to prevent mold or any other facilities damages. While Monroe Township has the finest teachers and staff. We look to enhance the programs by starting a STEAM/career-based academy through strategic partnerships. This also includes the revamping of vocational education. Our team is not beholden to any political party and/or government entity and will provide open and honest government. We are always mindful of the taxpayers and we are always putting students first. For any questions for the team please email us at puttinmonroestudentsfirst@gmail.com.

Name: Summer Merakian

Age: 41

Occupation: Research and Business Development, BlueSel Commercial Solar Inc.

When my husband and I moved here two years ago from Massachusetts, we knew right away that we had made the right decision to move to Monroe Township. This community has been nothing short of welcoming, and my son has truly blossomed with the help of the amazing educators at his school. My reason for throwing my hat in this election is simple, I want to be part of the team that will adopt and implement policies that will serve the best interests of our children and educators. I believe in the ripple effect, and what we put into our community and our children, is the catalyst to promote positive change outside of our geographical boundaries. We, as a community, have the responsibility of ensuring that each and every student has the tools, resources, opportunities and support to assist them on their path to success.

As a fairly new member to this community, I want to do all I can to ensure that not only my children, but all the children in Monroe Township, have access to the best possible educational programs available. I recently went back to school to finish my B.S. in human services and graduated this past May from Chestnut Hill College. I wanted to show my own children that it is never too late to achieve one’s goals. In addition, I want them to know that no matter where life takes you, you have the ability to promote positive change within yourself and the rest of the world. With hard work and dedication, I hope that I can be part of the future successes of our schools and students. I will continue to educate and inform myself on the needs and desires for our community’s schools and students. What I lack in experience, I make up for in the desire and drive to give back to our community. I believe that every child deserves access to a safe, encouraging and positive learning experience. I am the mother of two young sons, who has a vested interest in being part of this process. I would like to be part of that change that makes this terrific community even better.

Name: Jeff Simpler

Occupation: Retired – U.S. Army/U.S. Postal Service

A Voice for Progress: Conflict-free. Fact-based.

  • We don’t possess any conflicts: we will be able to fully participate in all board votes.
  • We don’t work for profit-based organizations who do (or seek to do) business with the district.
  • We don’t have any family members employed in the district.
  • We don’t buy/sell votes based on contracts/jobs: we will form opinions, make decisions and take actions based on facts.

There is no “I” in team – Jeff joins the team focused on progress, which is more capable and stronger as a result of the team’s collective experiences and perspectives.

We will pursue responsible government of our school district – on behalf of students and their families, as well as for our taxpayers.

We are committed to educational attainment and outcomes – we will develop a vision with actionable goals to equip students for success, exceed standards and pursue innovative programs/services.

Our students deserve progress – with plans, programs and services that effectively meet their unique learning needs.

We strive to be dutiful and intentional in our business and financial conduct – our approach will be to govern with comprehensive information from which we can make informed, intelligent decisions.

Our taxpayers deserve progress – an annual 2 percent budget increase “because the district can” is neither defensible nor sustainable.

A Voice for Progress believes that progress is within our grasp – we seek to stimulate cultural change in order to do business without the baggage of conflicts, limited/missing information and special interests:

Progress = Our district needs to rid itself of special interests that have conducted how business has been done – we need to ensure fair and open process, where contracts and jobs are fairly and openly transacted.

Progress = Our district needs to demand accountability, openness and transparency from administration.

Progress = Our district needs to embark on a new journey to transform its identity, performance and reputation.

A current board of education member and U.S. Army veteran, Jeff values representing his community. Jeff is involved with the VFW and American Legion and has coached/refereed numerous sports.

A lifetime of standing up for what is right has prepared Jeff to be a voice of reason on the school board. Questioning contracts, protecting the taxpayer and keeping the best interests of the student in the forefront remains among Jeff’s top priorities. Jeff has a grown daughter, who is a graduate of WHS.

Jeff has a degree in business management.

Name: Joseph Rumpf

Current board of education member and candidate in this year’s election Joseph Rumpf did not respond by deadline.