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 Will Novak.
Why are you running for Board of Education?
I decided to run for two main reasons. First, I’m extremely passionate about education. I worked at Driscoll Elementary in Brookline, Massachusetts as an assistant teacher and I was an instructor at Glenridge Taekwondo for nine years. Second, I believe in helping bring the change I want to see. The best way I can address the issues I experienced in Montclair’s schools is by getting involved.
What are some of the issues that are personal to you that you hope to address?
While the district has made great strides in helping non-traditional students, there is still work to be done. I intend to use my own experience fighting for accommodations for my ADHD and Auditory Processing Disorder to make it easier for families with non-traditional students to get the support they need.
What do you bring to the board that you feel is currently missing?
I bring a more recent experience of Montclair’s Public Schools. Being a part of the class of 2020, the issues I experienced while I was a student are not far removed from the issues many current students are experiencing. I hope to voice the needs of and ultimately represent the current students and teachers within Montclair’s Public Schools.
What connections, if any, do you have to the Montclair school system?
I grew up in the Montclair public schools and graduated with the class of 2020. I’ve experienced the good parts of the system, such as how caring and knowledgeable the teachers are, and I’ve experienced the system’s flaws, such as fighting for my accommodations throughout my public school career. While I am thankful for the opportunities Montclair Public Schools have given me, I also experienced events, such as learning English in a hallway after the stairs collapsed, that affected my education. If I am elected to the board, I hope to use my position to support all of Montclair Public School’s positive qualities while ensuring an event that negatively impacts a student’s education cannot happen.