HomeHaddonfield NewsFor board of education: Four candidates, three seats

For board of education: Four candidates, three seats

Meet Haddonfield's board of education candidates Nousheen Yousuf-Sadiq, incumbent Michael Nuckols, Jessica Drass and Stephen Derkoski.

Four candidates will compete for three seats on the Haddonfield board of education on Election Day, Nov. 7.

Candidates include Nousheen Yousuf-Sadiq, incumbent Michael Nuckols, Jessica Drass and Stephen Derkoski.

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Name: Nousheen Yousuf-Sadiq
Age: 41
How many years have you lived in Haddonfield?   7 years
Married? Children? Grandchildren? I’m happily married and we have four children, aged 12, 9, 6 and almost 2. 
School and degree: BA in History from University of Illinois at Chicago; MA in Religious Studies from Boston University  

Profession: Stay at home parent 
Is this the first time you have run for a seat for (Council/Committee/mayor/BOE)?   Yes
What is your involvement in the community?   I am on the Tatem PTA Executive Board and a class room parent. I am also a trustee of the wonderful organization, The Haddonfield Foundation, Co-Leader of my daughter’s Girl Scout troop, and Parent Co-Lead of Special Education Parent Advisory Group (SEPAG)

Why are you running for an elected seat?

I have really enjoyed working with the schools the past few years. With my position on Tatem PTA’s executive board, I had the pleasure of working closely with administration to implement school programs throughout the year. Additionally, working with SEPAG (Special Education Parent Advisory Groups) allowed me to extend initiatives to the other elementary schools and engage with their staff and students. I have gotten a lot of positive feedback as well as constructive criticism, and would really like to continue this work at the district level to bring in my perspective as a PTA member, parent, and Haddonfield resident.

What is one area you would like to concentrate on if elected?

I would continue to build on my work in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives by utilizing engaging educational experiences. I believe that our district needs to be proactive, not reactive, for teaching our students about each other. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it is a way to reduce HIB incidents by fostering understanding and respect amongst our community members. I have also received a lot of positive feedback from our events focused on inclusion and teaching about neurodiversity and disabilities in general, and this is something that I am happy to continue working on.

Name: Michael Nuckols

Age: 52

How many years have you lived in Haddonfield? 19

Married? Children? Grandchildren? Married with 2 children. Jack (class of 21, now at Fordham University). Alex (class of 24).

School and degree: SUNY Fredonia. BFA in English.

Profession: SVP, Creative Director at McCann Health New Jersey7.    Is this the first time you have run for a seat for (Council/Committee/mayor/BOE)?

If not, how many years/terms have you served as (Council/Committee/BOE/mayor) person? Last year I ran for and won a 1-year term on the Haddonfield Board of Education. I’m now running to be re-elected for a 3-year term.

What is your involvement in the community? I’m currently on the Haddonfield Board of Education. I was formerly on the Haddonfield Sustainability Committee. I’ve also been involved for 20 years with all kinds of volunteer roles with the schools.
Please answer these two questions below in 100 words or less:

Why are you running for an elected seat?

For the past year, I’ve had the privilege to serve on the Haddonfield Board of Education. It’s been a productive whirlwind of engagement with parents, teachers, community members, and school administrators to achieve some exciting things.

Haddonfield is an amazing community and school district – and I’d like to help make things even better. On a personal note…my mother was the President of the Board of Education in the town where I was raised. I grew up seeing the incredible impact she had on the people in our community. She’s my role model and my personal hero.

What is one area you would like to concentrate on if elected?

Maximize Classroom and Field Space – While Minimizing Tax Burden

Our classrooms are overcrowded, which is affecting teachers and students. Our field space is inadequate, which is affecting participation in athletics. As a board member, I’ve been working to expand classroom space and build new fields, in a way that minimizes the burden to our taxpayers.

Name: Jessica A. Drass
Age: 43
How many years have you lived in Haddonfield?

Married? Children? Grandchildren? I have been a lifelong resident of South Jersey. My husband, Charles, and I moved to Haddonfield in 2017 specifically so our son, CJ, could go to the wonderful schools here. He is currently in 6th grade at HMS.

School and degree: BA in Fine Art from Rutgers University, Received NJ State Certificate, Teacher of Art, K-12, NASDTEC Certified; MA in School Psychology from Rowan University; MA in Art Therapy from Drexel University 

Profession: Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of the Arts; Trauma Specialist with Temple University’s Philadelphia Healthy & Safe Schools (PHASeS) Program

Is this the first time you have run for a seat for (Council/Committee/mayor/BOE)? Yes

What is your involvement in the community? I am a proud parent of a Tatem graduate and a Haddonfield Soccer Club player. I have thoroughly enjoyed building connections and community here through past volunteer positions such as Room Parent, Art Goes to School, Art Reflections and the Tatem Talent Show.  It would be an honor to serve this wonderful community and advocate for ALL voices in town as a member of the Haddonfield Board of Education.

Why are you running for an elected seat?

I am a trauma-informed psychotherapist, professor, author, and researcher committed to collaborative community building. I love school and have always been involved in education. I have been a high school teacher and have a degree in School Psychology.  I am a professor training future educators and a Trauma Specialist stationed at a K-8 public school in North Philly. I am also a grassroots organizer, both on the national and local level, and an advocate for the arts. I have studied how local school boards have been attacked in recent years and decided it was time for me to get involved. 

What is one area you would like to concentrate on if elected?

I know firsthand the importance of mental health and its impact on learning. When someone feels or is excluded because of who they are or how they learn it can increase distress and get in the way of learning. Social and Emotional Learning in schools is key to increasing the health and success of our students. I’m running on a platform emphasizing the need to support the mental health and overall well-being not just for students, but also for teachers, staff, administrators and the school community. Mental Health Matters for Schools to Thrive.

Name: Stephen Derkoski

Age: 74

How many years have you lived in Haddonfield? 17 years in Haddonfield

Married? Children? Grandchildren? Married to my wife Debbie for 47 years. She was an Elementary teacher for 36 years. I have three children and two of them are also public school teachers. I also have one grandchild and one on the way later this month.

School and degree: Rowan University Masters Degree in Public School Administration and
Bachelors Degree in teaching

Profession: Retired. I have been in the profession of Education my entire career, and
recently retired. I have been a Teacher, Asst. Principal, Principal, Asst.
Superintendent of Schools, Superintendent of Schools. I also was a
Clinical Practice Supervisor for Rowan University, and Director of the
Child Study Team and Supervisor of Special Education. The majority of
my career was Asst. Superintendent and Superintendent (29 years).

Is this the first time you have run for a seat for (Council/Committee/mayor/BOE)? Yes

What is your involvement in the community? I am a member of the Haddonfield Over 65 Club, and assist my wife with her responsibilities in the Haddonfield Garden Club.

Why are you running for an elected seat?

I am running for the Board of Education because I believe I could be an asset and a resource to the already excellent BOE. From my professional educational career, I have completed and knowledgeable of many of the future challenges that face our school district.

What is one area you would like to concentrate on if elected?

I would like to understand the components included in the upcoming Bond Referendum, and be able to assist the public in the understanding of the process and the importance of their approval in the best interest of our students.

There will be a board of education candidate forum on Wednesday, Oct. 25 from 7 to 8:45 p.m. on Zoom. More information will be available at www.haddonfieldcivic.com. Questions can be submitted to hca1911@gmail.com. Please include your name and street in the email (for residential validity only, candidates will not see names or addresses). Residents are encouraged to ask non-targeted candidate questions, but questions that all candidates can respond to.

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