MILLTOWN – Five candidates will vie for the three, three-year terms available on the Milltown Board of Education in the upcoming election.
The general election is on Nov. 2.
Phoebe Glassner-Meade, 44, has lived in Milltown for almost 18 years. She is married with 12-year-old twin boys.
Glassner-Meade earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and American studies with a minor in history from Rutgers University. Prior to having her children, she worked in public relations for three major television networks. She has been a stay-at-home professional since they were born.
In the community, Glassner-Meade is an active volunteer and executive board member on the PTO.
Glassner-Meade is seeking her first term.
“I am running for Board of Education (BOE) because student success is directly related to the educational environment,” she said. “The most important thing you can give students is a content staff and a safe environment in which to learn. I think the most effective way to do this is by getting involved and understanding all aspects of how decisions are made.”
Glassner-Meade said some challenges facing school boards right now is an “us versus them” mentality.
“The boards are being tasked with keeping children safe, teachers safe, as well as making sure laws and union rules are followed,” she said. “It’s daunting and the solutions are not always exactly what the public wants, but serve a greater good. I think it’s important to find a way to bridge that gap in communication.”
Janice Hodgson, 67, has lived in Milltown for 44 years. She is a widow with two sons and four grandchildren ages 12, 10, 7 and 6.
Hodgson earned a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University and is retired as an administrative assistant.
She is seeking her second term.
“The most important reason I am running for the BOE is that I want to keep our children in school full-time while addressing the safety, mental and emotional well-being of our students and staff as we follow state mandates,” she said, adding “continuing to educate our students to be successful as they prepare for high school and their future careers is a major concern.”
Hodgson said expanding the district’s music program and afterschool clubs – theater and sports – will give the children more opportunities to apply their knowledge and build their self esteem in addition to the district’s math and language arts curriculum and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math).
“Consistent review, update and revision of our programs based on student needs will ensure that our children receive the best education from our district,” she said.
If re-elected, Hodgson said the areas she would like to focus on are diversity and the before and after school programs.
“Included in our curriculum are programs designed to promote diversity awareness within our schools,” she said, including Days of Dialogue, theme weeks which highlight different cultures and continued emphasis on core values of CARES (cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy and self control). “This learning environment was recognized at Joyce Kilmer [Elementary School] with the NJ School of Character award. Parkview School is presently working toward this recognition.”
Validating the culture of the district’s students contributes to a positive learning environment for all students, Hodgson said.
“I am confident that diversity awareness will become a more integral part of our children’s daily school life,” she said.
As for before and after school care, Hodgson said “childcare is paramount to our families in our community.”
“I would be interested in researching ways to facilitate making the childcare program become an extension of our school whether it is done in house or by an outside company that is hired by the BOE,” she said. “A program that will allow the children to participate in different activities plus help with homework would make their days more fun and productive.”
Charles David Oryniak, 44, is a lifelong resident of Milltown except for serving in the United States Air Force for a few years. He is married to Melissa with five children, ages 13, 12, 6, 3 and six months.
Oryniak is a graduate of the Milltown Public School system and graduate of Spotswood High School. After high school, he served in the U.S. Air Force. He has been employed by the Middlesex County Parks Department as a senior park maintenance worker for 14 years.
“I was a Boy Scout growing up and that helped instill a sense of service and pride in me,” he said. “So, after the Air Force, I volunteered as an assistant scoutmaster and have been doing that for 23 years. A few years ago I joined the Milltown Historical Society, then the Milltown Revitalization Committee and Milltown Historical Preservation Committee. I am also the creator and administrator of the Milltown For All Facebook page, which has become the largest de facto community information page, in the absence of an official borough Facebook page.”
Oryniak is seeking his second term.
“I am running for a second term because I believe that my first term had a good beginning, working to get a strong STEM/STEAM program in place until it was interrupted by the unprecedented challenges that were presented by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
As the district navigates the ongoing uncertainties presented by the pandemic, Oryniak said his primary concern is “ensuring that we can continue to move our schools forward and provide the social and emotional support that our students need right now, while still maintaining a safe, healthy, equitable and inclusive, quality educational experience for all of our students.
“While we slowly get back to our normal routine, I hope to reinvigorate our STEM/STEAM program and keep it current and inclusive,” he said. “Also, between gaining a wealth of knowledge and experience as a BOE member over the past three years and having five children that are currently going through (or will be going through) the Milltown Public School system, I feel like my decisions will matter more, be more meaningful and have a better degree of insight behind them.”
Egnita Pardo, 43, has lived in Milltown for 15 years. She is married with six children, who have attended the Milltown Public Schools. Three of her children are recent graduates of Spotswood High School – classes of 2018, 2020 and 2021. One child is currently a junior at Spotswood High. Two attend Joyce Kilmer School, in grade 8 and grade 4.
Pardo is a graduate of Perth Amboy High School, earned a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Kean University, earned a teacher of students with disabilities state certification from Rutgers University and a master’s degree in special education with a specialization in autism spectrum disorder from Georgian Court University.
She has more than 15 years of experience working as an educator in the public school education system. Currently, she is employed as a second grade special education teacher in New Brunswick.
In the community, Pardo helped organize and assist in the development of the Domestic Violence Response Team Milltown along with the local police department and Women Aware.
“This included speaking with victims of domestic violence, assisting in writing temporary restraining orders, providing victims and their children with comfort, explaining their rights and guidance,” she said.
In the past, Pardo has volunteered as a class mother. She serves as a trustee for the Milltown Education Foundation and last year at the invitation of Milltown Superintendent Stephanie Brown, she participated in the schools equity PLC (professional learning community) for the 2020-21 school year.
Pardo is seeking her first term.
“I am running for the Milltown BOE because I believe that my skill set and professional training and experiences as an educator, in addition to my cultural background, can be a great addition to the current board,” she said. “I am passionate about teaching and providing all students with equitable learning experiences. And I want to contribute a new, fresh and innovative perspective that will allow our school community to develop and maintain the level of equitable learning opportunities needed to nurture the whole child.”
Pardo said she is passionate about cultural competency and responsive teaching practices. If elected, one of the areas she would like to concentrate on is social emotional learning.
“Milltown is growing and changing and we as a school community need to be cognizant of the cultural differences of our students, but also the social emotional needs that our diverse population of students are now facing,” she said.
Patty Tymon, 50, has lived in Milltown for 14 years. She is married with two sons – an eighth grader at Joyce Kilmer School and a second grader at Parkview School.
Tymon is a graduate of Edison High School and is employed as an executive secretary to the superintendent of the Edison Township Public Schools.
In the community, Tymon has been a class mom for both of her children, she organizes the Holiday Shoppe at Joyce Kilmer School, she serves as team mom and as a COVID-19 Ambassador for both of her children’s football teams.
Tymon was appointed to the board in August 2020.
“I am passionate about making sure every child has a good education and successful life,” she said. “I want to make certain that our education system serves our students well. I believe all students regardless of their background deserve a high-quality education. I want to be the voice for students, parents, teachers and the community. I want to continue my services to teachers, families and students. I am just beginning to establish relationships and learning how to serve as an effective board member.”
Tymon said she is “very concerned about the academic achievement for many of our students.”
“During these trying times where students have missed almost 18 months of in-person learning, it is vital we offer support services to all students,” she said. “Social, emotional and education is a major concern at this time. I would advocate for more support services and more assessments to help students. As a board member, you have to realize that you are there for all students in the district. All children deserve a proper education and it is our responsibility to make sure that is possible.”
Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 2.