Three candidates seek Metuchen school board seats

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METUCHEN — Two incumbents and one newcomer are on the ballot for the Board of Education in the upcoming November election.

There are three three-year seats available. Incumbents Dan Benderly and Ben Small are seeking re-election and they are joined by newcomer Brian Glassberg.

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Board member Jackie Gibson is not seeking re-election.

Dan Benderly, 51, who is seeking his fourth term on the board, is a 20-year resident of the borough. He is married with four children, ages 13 to 19.

Benderly earned a Bachelor’s Degree in electrical engineering from The Cooper Union in 1988 and earned a MBA from Columbia Business School in 1992.

He works in strategy and corporate development, primarily for technology companies both large and small.

Benderly has served on the Metuchen Board of Education since 2008.

In that time, he said he has served on various committees including negotiations, public relations, personnel and technology as well as serving as chairman of the Curriculum Committee and Policy Committee. He has also served as vice president and currently is serving as president of the Board of Education.

Benderly said he has been involved with Little League Baseball and Softball serving as a coach and manager, he has served as a spring extravaganza presenter for 11 years, he served on the Religious School and Youth Committee, board member and trustee at Temple Emanu-El and has been involved with Metuchen Travel Soccer and the Metuchen Municipal Pool swim team.

“I initially ran for the Board of Education out of a love for Metuchen and a passion for education,” he said. “Over the last nine years while serving on the Board, I have come to appreciate the influence that the Board can have over the direction of the district.”

Benderly said the district has made major strides in that time all the while maintaining the budget.

The major strides include hiring new administration, building infrastructure, increasing use of technology in instruction, improving STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) instruction and opportunities across the district, and increasing course variety at Metuchen High School.

“I would like to continue to see these things through, while addressing new challenges that arise,” he said.

Benderly said his focus as a member of the Board of Education is to prepare the students and the district for a future that they cannot foresee right now.

This includes making sure the district has the right facilities and infrastructure, technology infrastructure and educational integration, curriculum and instructional methodologies and adopting a collaborative approach.

“Our students will be working with technology that we cannot [visualize] today,” he said adding that the district has to prepare the students to adapt to whatever will come their way.

Benderly said it’s important to build collaborative school leadership to enable better and more responsive decision making in the district.

Ben Small, 48, who is seeking his fourth term, is a 19-year resident of the borough. He is married to Marci and has two daughters, one is a freshman in college and one is a sophomore at Metuchen High School.

Small earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a master’s degree in accounting from Pace University.

He is a chief financial officer at a consumer products company and is a certified public accountant.

On the board Small is currently serving as chair of the Finance and Facilities Committee and is a member of the Policy, Personnel and Negotiations committees.

Small said he has volunteered his time for the Fuce 5K run since its inception. He volunteers for the Midnight Run food and clothing relief for the homeless in New York City, and he volunteers with the Elijah’s Promise soup kitchen in New Brunswick.

He is the co-founder of the Metuchen Recreation Girls basketball program and was the former Metuchen Little League girl’s softball manager and coach, and Metuchen Recreation soccer coach.

Small said he loves Metuchen and considers it his civic duty serving on the board.

“I call it my ‘mandatory volunteer work’,” he said. “I’m not an educator by training but feel that my finance and accounting background is a helpful addition to the board.”

Small said he will continue to make sure that the school district focuses on the whole child and gives the students in the Metuchen School District the tools they need to be well rounded individuals that can excel in life after their time in Metuchen and be future leaders.

Brian Glassberg, 44, who is a lifelong resident of the borough, is seeking his first term on the board. He is married with a young child.

Glassberg earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in math education and psychology from the University of Delaware. He earned a master’s degree in school counseling from Kean University and earned a supervisor certification, Director of School Counseling certification and he is a licensed associate counselor.

He is employed as a supervisor of guidance in the Edison Township School District.

Glassberg said he is an original member of the Full Day Kindergarten group on social media.

He has attended Board of Education meetings and participates in many activities with his family including the Metuchen Charlottesville Rally, Democratic Activists of Metuchen, and Farmers Market events.

“As someone who has lived here most of his life, I’m excited and motivated by the recent changes I have seen in town,” he said. “As a graduate of Metuchen schools and as an educator in a neighboring town, I have an insight into education and how it has evolved over the years.”

Glassberg said this is a pivotal time in Metuchen’s history.

“I’ve spent 22 years as a teacher, counselor and supervisor and believe this is the best way to serve the town I love,” he said. “I’ll help implement a smart growth plan to alleviate strain while finally launching full-day Kindergarten. I will improve the board’s website and communications for more transparency.”

Glassberg said his experience will help with a one-to-one computer initiative, which poses challenges for the district.

“We need to keep raising standards while respecting the strengths of students who may not continue to college,” he said. “I understand that the children’s well-being should be at the heart of every decision we make.”

Glassberg said the population in Metuchen keeps growing.

“We’ve taken a Frankenstein approach to construction — tacking on additions without long-term thinking,” he said. “We must address the space issues of today and tomorrow.”

Glassberg said more than 80 percent of New Jersey students have full-day kindergarten and Metuchen should too.

“Though my child won’t benefit from this, I believe it’s the right thing to do for all students,” he said. “The Board needs to have greater transparency and public communication. The website isn’t user friendly.”

Glassberg said Metuchen deserves a vibrant debate of ideas, which he encourages.

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 7.

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