Montclair will hold elections in November for three open Board of Education seats. Nine residents filed petitions to meet the July 31 deadline to run as candidates. Three of the nine are incumbent members: Phaedra Dunn, Melanie Dysher and Allison Silverstein. New candidates are Stuart Ball, Alex Binkley, Jessica Glass, Theodore Graham, Will Novak and Dr. Kimberly Robinson Santos.
To help inform you before Election Day, Montclair Local launched a series of candidate profiles. Get to know the candidates and the plans they have for the future of education in Montclair. Our series continues with Ted Graham.
Why are you running for Board of Education?
I decided to run for the Board of Education because I want this community to act on its values, central among them, the cultural and intellectual diversity that helps us understand that we should work together to improve the opportunities available to everyone. These values are central to and grow from our schools. I want to help shape space where Montclair Schools are once again at the forefront of innovation in education that leads to the best possible outcomes for ALL of our students.
What are some of the issues that are personal to you that you hope to address?
As an educator, I could write pages about the issues that matter when it comes to our schools. Primary among these, I want to ensure that our schools have the resources they need so that our students want to be at school and want to be learning a wide variety of knowledge and skills. I want to ensure our schools retain and continue attracting world-class staff so all our students have a real opportunity for a top-notch education. Another chief concern for me is communication. I’d like to see more open, honest, multi-way dialogue between the district and the community. Most parents and caregivers I know are running themselves ragged trying to do the best for their children, and it’s potentially transformative to have more integrated support and direct communication.
What can you bring to the board that you feel is currently missing?
I bring the perspective of a career educator, someone who intimately understands how policy and budget decisions affect students in classrooms. With that, I also bring experience shaping and fighting for policy that improves equity and student outcomes. I deeply understand that every decision a Board of Education makes has very real consequences for all of our students.
What connections, if any, do you have to the Montclair school system?
I have two children in Montclair schools, one at Edgemont and one at Renaissance. I myself am a proud graduate of Bradford, Mt. Hebron (Buzz), and Montclair High School. I also had the honor of coaching MHS’s wrestling team for a time.
What else would you like voters to know about you or your campaign?
I care deeply about our community. Montclair is more than just a place to live—it is a place that empowered me and my peers to believe we could make the world a better place. We also had the lesson imparted that if we wanted a better place, we bear responsibility for making it that way. If I’m entrusted to be one our schools’ stewards, I will listen and work to make sure that the tradition of empowered students continues. I will work with my colleagues to identify our problems, solve our problems, and create a brighter tomorrow.