Candidate Dan Benderley Answers Our Questions

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1. If a number of more experienced educators in the district retire this year, what will you consider to be the most important requirements for new hires?

We have seen a number of our most experienced educators retire over the course of this last year, and I expect that, given the atmosphere and changes ongoing in Trenton, this trend will continue.

As we replace these valued members of our school community, we need to make sure that we take advantage of the best that the current market has to offer.  While the Board does not directly participate in the hiring of educators other than the Superintendent, I believe that we should be looking for educators that have: deep knowledge and certifications in their subject areas; a commitment and passion for teaching; training and experience in differentiated instruction; and a belief that every child can learn

2. What do you think will be the role of guidance counselors in the district? Is there a benefit to providing guidance to kids regarding their academic progress well before they enter high school?

Guidance counselors play an extremely important role in our district, and in the lives of our students. They provide a range of support services for our students, whether in times of trouble or preparing for their triumphs. 

One of the roles of guidance counselors is to help students plan their individual academic program through our school system and beyond, be it college, the work force, or the military.  I have been serving on the Curriculum Committee where we have been advocating for the development of an integrated Guidance Curriculum encompassing grades 6-12. While we do not want to put too much pressure on our students at a young age, I believe that it is very important for parents to understand how choices made at Edgar School or even earlier may affect opportunities later in the High School. 

3. What structural improvements on the district schools are of the utmost priority now, with overcrowding at Campbell and a growing population of young families in town?

We are fortunate in Metuchen to have had the support of the community over the last 15 years in rebuilding our schools and infrastructure, so that we now have modern, up to date facilities for the education of our children.    Our main challenge in this time of severe budgetary pressures is to resist the temptation to defer necessary maintenance, and to find the resources to continue to maintain these facilities in good condition.

We have had to deal with an unusually large first grade this year of almost 190 student, as compared to an average class of around 150-160.  As a result, we have had to convert the Music Room at Campbell to two classrooms.  Fortunately, our kindergarten class this year has reverted back to an average size.  In addition to accommodating this group as it moves through our system, we will need to continue to monitor our enrolment trends to determine whether there is a sustained trend towards larger classes, which may require permanent facility changes, or whether we can continue to accommodate our needs through creative solutions, minimizing the fiscal impact on our taxpayers.

For personal information on this candidate, check out Dan's profile on the next page.

 

DAN BENDERLEY PROFILE INFORMATION

Metuchen Roots:

·       14 year resident of Metuchen, married to Mary O'Donnell, M.D.

·       Children:            Aidan, 7th Grade, Edgar            Arielle, 3rd Grade, Campbell            

      Alanna, 6th Grade, Edgar      Liam, 1st Grade, Campbell

·       Two nephews and one niece (ages 9, 14 and 14) also in Metuchen schools

  • Little League Baseball/Softball Manager, Coach - 8 years
  • Volunteer with MMP Swim Team
  • Participate in Metuchen Travel Soccer
  • Spring Extravaganza Presenter, 7 years

 

Platform:

I will continue to:

·       Ensure that our students get a high quality general, math and science education

·       Advocate for programs to develop EVERY child to their fullest potential. 

·       Drive innovation for the benefit of all of our children.

·       Encourage appropriate differentiation at all levels

·       Leverage available data and analysis tools to meaningfully measure performance. 

·       Improve communications with parents

·       Exercise Fiscal Responsibility

 

Board Experience:

Committee Assignments:

Board Achievements:

Policy, 2008-2011

Chair, 2009-2011

·       Web Streaming of  Board of Education meetings

·       Updated Board Policy Manual - district earned 100% on NJQSAC Review in Governance

Negotiations, 2009-2011

·       In face of massive state aid cuts, achieved agreements with all associations, keeping teachers in our classrooms.

Curriculum, 2010-2011

·       Approval of new half-year Economics courses

·       Approval of new science sequence at MHS

·       Revised placement methodology, grades 3-5

·       Enhanced technology - e.g. SmartBoards,
Online tools for math (Accelus, SkillsTutor)

Professional:

·       18 years of senior management/entrepreneurial experience in high-tech businesses

·       Current Employment:  Director, Corporate Business Development, NICE Systems

 

Education:

·       MBA from Columbia Business School in Finance, Management and Marketing

·       Bachelors of Electrical Engineering, The Cooper Union

·       Stuyvesant High School, NYC

 

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