“The teachers and administrators go above and beyond for their students,” said Marissa Falcon in discussing one of the many positives she sees in the Roselle Park School District, “As a parent who is raising their child in [the borough], that is of utmost importance to me. The strong connection between school and family is also a valuable trait of Roselle Park schools. That connection is extremely important for the student’s ultimate success.”
It is that connection that Marissa looks to in her putting her name in for this year’s school board election.
The nine member school board has three seats open every year but this election only had one person who filed a petition to officially run for the Board Of Education (BOE). This leaves two seats available and Marissa – wanting to stay connected with her community – has decided to run a write-in campaign for one of those seats.
It was that opportunity which presented itself that caught Marissa’s attention when she found out that there were going to be vacant seats on the board. Previously, she was busy completing a second Masters Degree and her time was dedicated to her studies. Now that she completed her coursework, she felt ready to dedicate herself to take on this new role.
Marissa is a mother of two school-age children who are Roselle Park school students, a public school teacher herself with 12 years educating in Elizabeth public schools, and a volunteer who has helped with everything from the Roselle Park Arts Festival to Girl Scouts to other school-based activities.
Having lived in Roselle Park for a decade, Marissa has seen her children and her neighbors’ children grow through the education and community involvement. It is that propserity that she wants to have a part in continuing. She remarked, “I am running for the BOE because I value the work of educators in promoting the academic success of all students and I want to contribute in any way I can to achieve the same vision.”
Continuing, Marissa stated, “I am looking forward to serving the children and parents of Roselle Park and help our school district become one of the best not only in the state, but in the nation.”
As an educator, she understands the effects of school policies on teachers, parents, students and administrators. It is that experience that gives her the confidence in wanting to help and support the school board in making decisions that will promote high academic achievements. She explained, “My academic knowledge on school leadership and my professional expertise on instructional practices and curriculum will be my contribution if elected in November.”
Having a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and having recently completed a second Masters in ESL Education, Marissa hopes to be a voice for parents, teachers and students of the community. She stated, “I hope to work with the board members and school district officials to ensure that Roselle Park Schools are setting high expectations for all students and that students have the resources they need to meet their goals.”
Marissa is interested in giving input and helping, not being a radical and up-ending the work done by the school board. She simply wants to ensure that the new board members elected have the student’s best interest in mind.
As far as ideas and initiatives, Marissa said she would like to see an improvement on student use of technology at the elementary and middle school levels. She explained, “Things have been improving slowly and I would like to see bigger changes happen sooner than later.”
She is also a supporter of bring departmentalization back onto the table as a way to prepare fifth-grade students for the middle school level. She even spoke about this last year during a school board meeting and still thinks that with some work and revision, it could be implemented once again in the district.
Additionally, Marissa would like to see the addition of elective courses offered at the middle school level. Not only do these courses empower practical skills but Marissa believes they can help students find hidden talents or passions.
“In fact, she said, “Several studies show that students are more likely to get a degree or major in a course they took as an elective. Electives offer options that allow individuals to seek out interests. Being able to choose a class is huge, and this tends to keep kids motivated to learn.”
Marissa would also like to have the school board research to see if filtered water stations could be put in each school building. She stated that a key benefit of filtered water bottle filling stations for schools is their ability to provide safe drinking water in removing common contaminants such as chlorine and lead.
As for the current major issue of development and, in particular PILOT or Payment In Lieu Of Taxes, Marissa is in agreement with the current BOE that the program could adversely affect the school district and that monies should be appropriated in order to plan for the changes needed. A PILOT program is an incentive to have developers invest in a community by making payments that are less than if they paid taxes. The draw for a town is that 95% of a PILOT payment goes to the municipality but none of PILOT goes to a school district. There is debate as to whether using PILOT for residential development negatively impacts a school district’s population without fair recompense for that increase in resources.
In closing, Marissa refers to a quote from philosopher Herbert Spencer in how she sees her time on the board if elected.
“The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.”
Marissa hopes to help put into action what she knows to better the community. She stated, “I look forward to working with the BOE to ensure that the best interest of our children and the school district is a priority in this process.”
Anyone requesting more information can reach out to Marissa on Facebook @Marissa Jane Falcon or e-mail marissab211[@]yahoo.com.