Three members of the Upper Freehold Regional School District Board of Education are seeking re-election to three available three-year terms in the November 2020 election.
Of the board’s nine members, seven are residents and representatives of Upper Freehold Township and two are residents and representatives of Allentown. Board members appear on the ballot in the municipality they represent.
The terms of board members Patrick Nolan of Upper Freehold, Kurt Wayton of Allentown and Michael Zuppa of Upper Freehold will end in December. All three men are running unopposed for re-election.
Nolan, who is serving as board president in 2020, is a portfolio strategist for BlackRock. A resident of Upper Freehold for 17 years, he joined the board in 2011.
“We have done well evolving the district over the past decade, but there is more to do,” Nolan said. “I would like to see us push the district’s programming further into the 21st century world around us.
“I have worked in finance and the asset management industry specifically for almost 25 years. This background has allowed me the ability to chair the Finance Committee and partner with our business administrator to find ways to solve challenging financial problems for the district. Most things we do have financial implications, so it’s a place that is comfortable for me,” he said.
If re-elected, Nolan said areas of focus for him in a new term will be advancements to the curriculum – including enhancements to academies and additional partnerships with colleges and universities to offer high school students an expanded menu of coursework that offers college credit – a push toward more specialized student preparation and better branding.
“The world around us is changing. Adults are finding the need to update their skills in order to stay relevant and employed. Our Guidance Department should be a hub of skills discussions for kids and it should be supported by 21st century coursework that aligns with the largest set of job opportunities available.
“Some careers will be obtained through further education, but others will not. We should be able to offer all students the resourcing and training they need, whether their next step is to a university, a trade school, or directly into the workforce.
“I would like students, parents and staff to all be able to say something similar about what this district offers; what it’s about. We have a mission statement that is long and doesn’t land with kids and we have certain schools that offer something.
“Stone Bridge Middle School, for example, is about “Finding Your North Star.” That’s a brand. We need something like that; it brings people together around a common purpose. It defines what they are a part of, what they are working toward and what they have accomplished when they leave us. The brand should help us in a few words define why we make the decisions we make. All decisions should be logically aligned with it,” Nolan said.
Wayton is a public school teacher in West Windsor and coaches cross country and track and field at the Hun School of Princeton. He has resided in Allentown for eight years and joined the board in 2015.
“I have 21 years of teaching experience. I understand what drives successful educational practices that create unique opportunities for our children. I have empirical practical knowledge of how schools operate and how children can best be served,” he said.
If re-elected, Wayton said areas of focus for him in a new term will be continued fiscal responsibility, expanding opportunities for students and athletes at every level, and advocating for educators to improve their craft through creating and supporting professional innovation and development.
Zuppa works for a family winery from California and has lived in Upper Freehold for 12 years. He joined the Board of Education in 2018.
“I like what has been accomplished in our school district over the past three years, but I think there is always more to do. I am not finished helping our district.
“My profession makes me very detail oriented and my job is to figure out how we can improve. This makes me constantly looking at ways to get better as a district, which is exactly what we all want and strive for each day,” he said.
If re-elected, Zuppa said he will continue to work for the benefit of the district’s students.
“They are the reason we are all here,” he said.