Spotlight on Lawrence Board of Education Candidates

Of the three Lawrence Township Public School (LTPS) Board of Education three-year term seats expiring January 2017, currently held by Patricia “Pepper” Evans, Michael Horan, and Dr. Laura Waters, only Ms. Evans seeks reelection. Michele Bowes is running unopposed for a one year term. Besides Ms. Evans, the five individuals vying for seats are Glenn Collins, Colette Dickinson, Michele King, Michael Wilson, and Jonathan Dauber. Below are profiles of the three-term candidates to better inform your election choices on November 8th.

Glenn Collins: After being elected to the board, Glenn Collins was required to step down after a year and a half of service due to a personal conflict with the district. This past May, the board selected Michelle Bowes to serve the remainder of his term. Now, Mr. Collins is running again, since reaching a settlement with the district.

Glenn Collins

Mr. Collins enjoyed being on the board and believes that he accomplished a lot. “I want to run again because I want to create policies ensuring that the administration is doing the correct thing for the students, the parents, and the taxpayers,” said Mr. Collins.

One of the things he is most committed to is ensuring the continued improvement of the district’s Student Services department. “One out of four students in the district receive some form of special services in the form of after school programs, reading programs, and special education classes. During my board tenure, I never hesitated to question the status quo.”

Mr. Collins works as an insurance field investigator with Encompass Insurance and has lived in Lawrenceville for 25 years. His two children attend The Cambridge School in Pennington, an out-of-district placement, and Lawrence Middle School.

Mr. Collins believes in “giving back to the community” and currently serves on the township’s Recreation Advisory Committee, is a member of the Knights of Columbus, and is a Seargent-At-Arms with the American Legion. In the past, he served on the township’s Planning Board Committee and spent five years volunteering with Boy Scouts.

Jonathan Dauber: Dr. Jonathan Dauber, Principal of West Windsor-Plainsboro (WW-P) High School North since fall 2015, moved to Lawrenceville over four years ago with his wife and two young sons. He and his wife, also an educator, moved because, “Lawrence is a great place for kids to grow up and go to school.” They have two young children.

Jonathan Dauber

Prior to his current position, Dr. Dauber worked as Assistant Principal for Lawrence High School (2005-2006 school year), Principal of Lawrence Intermediate School (2006-2011 school year), and Principal of Lawrence High School (2011-2015 school year).

“Education goes way beyond standardized test scores and I think that Lawrence does a lot in regards to: character education, teaching kids right from wrong, and teaching kids how to work with other people. Lawrence is genuinely a diverse district. It teaches kids how to live and learn alongside kids who are very different from them.”

When Dr. Dauber was asked what sets him apart from other candidates he said, “The field of education is a very challenging place to be right now. Everything from teacher evaluations, assessments, PARCC, educational technology, connections to higher education, student teaching, and transgender students requires a good eye and understanding of what these topics are about in order to make good, solid decisions. I think I bring a lot of that to the table because I live it everyday. Part of the responsibility of a board of education is to recognize all of the needs of all of the families in a community, and work to support them. As a school leader in Lawrence for many years, I understand the concept of who we are and what we are about, as a town.”

Colette DickinsonColette Dickinson has lived in Lawrenceville for 30 years. Her reason for seeking a seat on the board is because “Our school system has a very large budget and people should contribute what they can to running these things. Our high school was listed as 87th in the state, according to New Jersey Monthly. My son is a graduate of the Lawrence school system. For what we (taxpayers) spend, we should be getting an even better rating.”

Colette Dickinson
Colette Dickinson

In regards to the public’s generally low attendance of board meetings Ms. Dickinson stated, “It can only help to have more ideas to find out what people want. The people are the ones that are paying for it (the schools) and the board needs to be more user-friendly in order to gain better public participation. Maybe the meetings should be paired with other events going on.”

“Lawrence does an excellent job but there is always room for improvement. Robbinsville was built only ten years ago and (according to New Jersey Monthly) they’re rated 66th, 20 better than us. Princeton is just down the road and is rated 15th. I think we have to see why Lawrence doesn’t get good ratings. The way high schools are rated affects property sales. People may feel that ratings don’t matter but, like scores on SATs, we have to play the game, either to get into colleges or to sell our homes. Ratings affect the perceptions of the students that come out of the schools. Perhaps we need a comparative study to other schools rated higher.”

“Sometimes a new person on the board can bring new questions and that is one of other reasons why I am running.”

Patricia “Pepper” Evans: Pepper has been on the Board of Education for the past three years and seeks an additional three-year term. She advocates for “greater board transparency in negotiations with the Lawrence Township Education Association (LTEA)”, and in her role as board member, will continue to provide “The best affordable education, a safe and nurturing school environment, a supportive place for teachers to work, and programs geared toward educating the whole child”.

Pepper Evans
Pepper Evans

Pepper has lived in Lawrenceville since 1988 and has two daughters; one is a senior at LHS and the other is a sophomore at Loyola University. She stopped working for many years to raise her daughters and care for her chronically ill husband, but when he died ten years ago, Pepper was forced to go back to work, reinventing herself. She successfully launched her own business as an Independent Living Consultant, advising families in ways to keep loved ones living independently with the fewest restrictions possible. She also works part-time for Silver Century Foundation, an organization committed to helping people plan for their later years, empowered and free of stereotypes.

While buoying her family financially, she still made time to be a soccer coach, room parent, PTO president, Girl Scout leader, peer-to-peer mentor for recent widows, member of HomeFront’s board of directors, and member of Lawrence Township Education Foundation’s board of trustees.

She currently serves on the Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment, and Professional Development (C.I.A.P.D.) committee and the Finance committee for LTPS’ Board of Education.

When asked about LTPS administration she said that she has “a lot of faith in the current administration”. “The business administrator is brilliant and my feeling about our superintendent is to give her the resources and get out of her way.”

Michele King: Dr. Michele King, a resident of Lawrenceville for the past 18 years, lives with her husband and the last two of her five daughters. Her undergraduate degree is in Special Education and her PhD is in Educational Leadership with a focus on Curriculum Instruction.

Michele King
Michele King

Her three oldest children are in college and the younger two are enrolled at St. Paul’s middle school. Since 2003, Dr. King has coached soccer for the Lawrence Hamnett Soccer Association, coached swimming for the Ben Franklin Elementary swim team, and basketball and soccer for Christian Youth Organization (CYO) teams.This season, she is also coaching a Lawrence Recreation soccer team. Besides volunteering for youth athletics, Dr. King has served six years on the Academic Committee at St. Paul’s schools.

Dr. King teaches graduate and undergraduate-level Education courses at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), and supervises senior-year student teachers. In her role supervising burgeoning teachers, she is in local school districts throughout central New Jersey and has gained insight into how districts address present-day concerns. “I think it gives me a wide window into school management and how they address school district problems. I have significant, relevant education experience that would allow me to provide high quality support to the LTPS board.”

“I applaud some of LTPS’ efforts, like the academy approach in the high school. I’m not running to address any problems. I think our school system is well run and that we have some strong, positive administrators in place. I think improving instructional programs, and ensuring that the right people are in faculty and administrative positions should always be a concern. I would like to know what is happening in each of the classrooms and I would like to ensure that staff are getting high quality professional development. My ability to evaluate, analyze, and offer support in those areas is where I can benefit the board.”

Michael Wilson: Dr. Michael Wilson, an Associate Professor of Education for Western Connecticut State University (primarily online), has lived in Lawrenceville for 20 years. He’s married and has a blended family of four children, and six grandchildren. One grandchild is entering the LTPS district in two years. Approximately 13 years ago, Dr. Wilson served two terms on the school board and after a decade-long absence wishes to serve again. The following was written by Dr. Wilson:

Michael Wilson

I am on a mission. As a university professor, I have dealt mostly with learners who work at the behest of the professor and comply to what they are told, having very little understanding of how to control the various aspects of their learning machinery, i.e. they have an extremely limited access to a range of learning strategies in relation to motivation, thinking, emotional skills, social skills and physical development. They are what Carol Dweck, Stanford University professor, refers to as the “helpless learners”.

My mission is to push what I refer to in three phrases:

  • Pursuit of potential – understanding how to coordinate the elements of passion, constructive self-appreciation and skills of learning
  • Self-determination – the development and integration of the multiple elements of autonomy, competence and social agency
  • Intrinsically oriented learning – the optimization of the use of self-knowledge in control of learning goals, and experiential involvement in learning.

I am looking for people interested in the conversation and possibly in the movement of personal  learning in the directions outlined above. I have been particularly interested in learning contexts in which these sorts of skills might be most efficiently and effectively developed. Currently, I am running for a seat on the Lawrence Township Board of Education in hopes of furthering the conversation and possibly improving student learning in the directions above.

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