LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ – Heather Camp believes that transparency is key to succeeding as a Board of Education member. Camp is running with Jasmine Surti and Tabitha Bellamy-McKinley to fill the three Board of Education seats up for grabs this Nov.3.
A resident of Lawrence Township for eight years, Camp wants to create a transparent education system that benefits students. The three Lawrence Township moms come from different educational backgrounds. Yet, what unites them is their platform of racial justice and diversity.
Read below to learn more about Camp and her platform for the upcoming elections in Lawrence Township.
Name – Heather Camp
Age (as of Election Day) – 42
Position Sought – Lawrence Township Public Schools Board of Education Does anyone in your family work in politics or government? – No
Master of Science in Social Work, Columbia University, Concentration in Social Enterprise Administration Minor in International Development
Bachelor of Science in Social Work, Calvin College – Minor in Third World Development
Occupation – Over 20 years of experience in Civic & Community Engagement in Higher Education and Non-Profit work. Most recently Director of Community Engaged Learning at The College of New Jersey.
Previous or Current Elected or Appointed Office – Lawrence Township Public Schools Board of Education
Campaign website – Facebook: @ElectBCS2020
Why are you seeking elective office?
My drive to run for school board stems from my desire to see more parents with children in LTPS represented on the board, to create a more transparent education system in Lawrence by building bridges within the community and to push for a more equitable school system. Overall, I want to see LTPS schools succeed, and for every child to receive an education that helps them thrive.
The single most pressing issue facing our community is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.
Inequality – if I were elected onto the School Board I would work to diversify the teachers and staff so that they mirror the population of LTPS students. Additionally, I would seek avenues to have a more diverse curriculum and opportunities for dialogue on issues of inequality (i.e. race, gender, disabilities, LGBTQ). Finally, I want to streamline the process for seeking services for children. Too often parents are bogged down with bureaucracies when trying to get services for their children to be the best learners.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?
I am a mother with two young children enrolled in the district. As such, I have a long-term interest in the quality of LTPS. If elected, I would use my own observations as a parent to help augment board of education policy. Moreover, my extensive background in higher education and years of community work would bring value to the board. I have led projects for schools with community members requiring communication and planning, as well as managed large grants and budgets. My connections to local nonprofits and Colleges/Universities could provide programming, research and training from the educational field.
If you are a challenger, in what way has the current board or officeholder failed the community (or district or constituency)
I think the LTPS Board of Education needs to work on transparency with the community. A major responsibility of the Board is to represent the community. To do this, you have to stay attune to the community you’re serving, seek their input, and inform them of policies and approaches. Many community members do not feel informed of what the LTPS Board is doing, how they’ve come to decisions and why they have taken the approaches they have (examples of this could include placing security guards in the school, or working on equity in the school system).
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform.
COVID has created a different learning environment for LTPS. Special needs students have not been receiving the services they need to succeed in our schools. During the Spring Child Study Team meetings did not take place, nor did most of the services that children were entitled to in their IEPs. As a result, students with special needs are regressing at a rapid rate. These students need to be prioritized. Most other districts have brought their students with special needs back. And, while Lawrence just voted to bring 40 students back on October 12, this doesn’t even come close to the nearly 1,000 students that have IEPs in our district. Beyond this, COVID has created isolation for many students and families. It is important to check-in with students and help bring mental health services to families due to loss, loneliness and depression. This can be done by check-ins with teachers, outreach from school counselors and psychologists, and providing information on school websites and the LTPS website. If families need help, we should make the process easy, not difficult, for them to find the information and services they need. If we work together as a community, we can find creative solutions to learning, but it takes teamwork and innovation. We must come together, listen and brainstorm to find solutions to get through this time.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
I have been part of two start-ups in Higher Education – The Pace Center at Princeton University and the Center for Community Engaged Learning & Research at TCNJ. In both positions I had to collaborate with others, seek grants, manage budgets, and learn new systems. I worked with diverse sets of students, community members and faculty to come together to innovate new programs and address community and higher education needs. It is a delicate balance. Both positions entailed multiple sets of stakeholders that I had to please.
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
I have lived in Lawrence for nearly 8 years, and Mercer County for over 20. The reason my husband and I decided to move here was because of the wonderfully diverse population of Lawrence. Lawrence not only has racial and ethnic diversity, but also socio-economic diversity. I wanted my children, who have a mixed ethnic background, to be in an environment where they would meet people of all different walks of life and I think you can find that in Lawrence.
In anticipation of the upcoming election, Patch asked candidates to answer questions about their campaigns. We will be publishing candidate profiles as election day draws near.
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This article originally appeared on the Lawrenceville Patch