Six residents seek to fill three school board positions in West Milford 2021 General Election

West Milford. The candidates explain their positions and the reason why they want to serve.

| 28 Oct 2021 | 03:39

    In the Nov. 2, 2021 General Election, West Milford voters will be instructed to vote for three board of education trustees from the list of six candidates’ names on the ballot.

    Each of the top three vote-getters in the election will serve a full, three-year term as a volunteer school board trustee for West Milford Township Public Schools (WMTPS), beginning at the board of education’s reorganization meeting in January 2022.


    Board of education candidates Kate Romeo and Teresa “Terry” L. Dwyer are the two incumbents seeking re-election to the school board in 2021.

    Completing her first term on the school board, Romeo - in ballot position #1 - is seeking re-election to continue her volunteer work as a West Milford school board trustee for a second term.

    In ballot position #2, Dwyer (slogan: Integrity Above All) is also seeking re-election, to continue serving on the school board for a third term. For several subsequent years in a row, Dwyer has been elected unanimously by her fellow trustees in January of each year to serve as the Vice President of the WMBOE.

    The third seat on the school board that is up for election is currently held by trustee David Ofshinsky. After serving one full three- year term on the school board, Ofshinsky has decided not to run for re-election this year.

    Newcomer Claire Lockwood, in ballot position #3, is seeking to serve her first term as a school board trustee. Lockwood hopes to fill Ofshinsky’s position on the school board alongside incumbents Romeo and Dwyer.

    Although they are each running independently, candidates Kimberly Landolfi, Henrietta “Morrie” Shafer and Tammy Sloan. They have a shared Facebook campaign page created by parent supporters, on which their group slogan is: “Proven Experience, Dedication and Character” and their shared campaign signs read:

    “It’s as easy as 1 - 2 - 3. Elect Romeo, Dwyer, and Lockwood for West Milford B.O.E.”

    Three other newcomers to the West Milford school board race this year also seek to serve their first terms as school board trustees, and are bracketed together on the ballot. Listed in ballot positions 4, 5, and 6, respectively, are: Kimberly Landolfi, Henrietta “Morrie” Shafer, and Tammy Sloan.

    Candidate bios

    The following bios and photos were posted by the candidates on their public BOE campaign Facebook pages and requested to be shared. Links to the original posts for each are included below each bio. The candidates are listed in order of their ballot positions:

    Kate Romeo

    “I am running for the Board of Education in West Milford for another 3 year term . I would like to continue giving my energy into making West Milford schools the best!

    As a WMBOE member for the last 3 years I have been a part of multiple committees including personnel, policy and education. I have been a voice for our students, parents and employees. I have helped to implement changes in policy and procedures to assist our families in the educational process.

    I am a liaison on the WMMA formerly know as CASA- Community Against Substance Abuse where I help find prevention and intervention services for WM and bring great programs to our schools including Heros and Cool Kids and We are Not Buying It!

    I attend the WM SEPAC special education meetings and enjoy hearing the feedback from our parents and guardians!

    It is exciting to be a part of the strategic planning meetings to hear what our community sees as our district strengths and where improvements should be made.

    I am an educator currently working as a Student Assistance Counselor with my Substance Awareness Coordinator certification. I am a coordinator for a mentor program. and a trauma coordinator. I have been on school improvement teams and school safety teams my entire career working in 5 schools in 4 districts in New Jersey.

    I have been a volunteer on the PTA and have helped fundraise to bring our students character education programs.

    If given the opportunity again I will continue to work hard doing the right thing here in WM! Every child matters to me! Every family is important! Even the families that do not have children in our schools are important! All stakeholders in this community need to have a voice that speaks up for them.

    My knowledge of policy and regulation, rooted in experience and real-life application, will help the West Milford Board of Education make decisions and implement best practices specific to managing a school district.

    Teresa Dwyer

    I have been a resident of West Milford for over 40 years and I have no intention of leaving this community that I call family. My husband and I raised three children here and they all attended the West Milford schools and I am proud to say that the three of them are vey successful adults. My oldest works with the federal judicial system, my middle one works in higher education and my youngest works for a large retail company. All three have always commended our district for the preparation it gave them to be successful in their college and graduate studies.

    I have a degree in English and Speech and Theatre studies from William Paterson University and I have done extensive graduate work at Ramapo College in Multicultural Studies. I also have a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership from William Paterson College. I retired in 2014 after teaching in Bergen County for six years and West Milford High School for twenty-five years. I also advised the Quiz Bowl Team and the Broadway Club for many years. In addition, I was active in restarting the theatre program at West Milford Township High School.

    After retirement, I wanted to stay involved in education. I wanted to try and make a difference. My husband knew how much I empathize with students and their families, so he encouraged me to seek election to the board of education in 2016. It has been quite a ride for the past six years; however, it has been fulfilling and I know I am making a difference. Despite some bumps in the road, the West Milford School District is getting stronger.

    As a member of the West Milford School Board for the past six years, I have been dedicated to creating stability, higher standards, educating the “whole” child, providing services for all students, and listening to the concerns of parents. Along with other members of the board, we created stability in hiring a superintendent who is, along with our Director of Education and Business Administrator, leading this district to “higher grounds”. Along with other Board members, I have questioned curriculum and have pushed math programs that are competitive with other outstanding districts. I have continually questioned our SAT scores and have demanded feedback on how our curriculum can strengthen our scores. I am still awaiting that feedback from the current supervisors.

    Vocational offerings are extremely important for students who do not want college. Under the guidance of our Director of Education, with the support of this board and the board before, we have strengthened our offerings and have competitive classes taught by certified staff. Our graduates in these studies have been successful in their varying fields.

    When I speak of the “whole” child, I do not include only academics. Character is an aspect of our students that we must address. The Character Education Program led by this Board and the Director of Education has been strengthened to improving the HIB investigations and reports and encouraging students to be honest, kind, and understanding of each other. Raising children in these uncertain times is difficult, and the school districts must now share awareness of the needs of these children and their parents.

    To worry about how money is spent is concerning for all of us. In the past two years, the formula for state aid has changed so drastically that it has crippled many districts abilities to maintain programs. Despite the over two million dollars in cuts in the past two years, along with the Business Administrator and this current Board, we have been able to maintain programs, and even add some to meet the needs of our children. For six years I have proposed cutting supervisors and replacing them with money in the classrooms. That has been accomplished this year. As a Board, we have raised the bar in spending to favor our children. I have always been a financial conservative, so I believe that we can do more with less and that has been proven over the improvements in our districts while I have been on the board.

    Claire Lockwood

    I grew up in the United Kingdom and came to the United States as a young adult. I never expected to make this country my home but 27 years later, 21 spent with my wonderful husband Ken and 17 years in West Milford this is now my home! My paying job for the past 20 years has been my passion providing ABA behavior therapy to individuals ranging from 18 months to 24 years of age. It is challenging yet so rewarding I love what I do and that is working with families and school districts to ensure that every child and or adult can get the interventions they need to give them the best possible life that they can achieve. Now my unpaid job is being a mom to my amazing boys Robert(13) and AJ(11) who both attend Macopin School.

    Since 2011 I have been a very active participant in our school district. I have been a member of the Maple Road PTO, the parent liaison for SEPAC (Special Education Parent Advisory Committee), vice president and treasurer for WMPA (West Milford Parent Association), and SRT (superintendents roundtable). All these volunteer positions have afforded me the opportunity to learn a lot about this district and give me the platform to advocate for not only what I believe is worth fighting for but what we should all be fighting for...THE BEST POSSIBLE INCLUSIVE EDUCATION WE CAN PROVIDE ALL OUR CHILDREN. We can do this by working together with the staff, parents, and community members to achieve the best outcome.

    After attending many BOE meetings over the span of about six years, it is now time for me to take the next step in my journey and run for a seat at the table. I am an honest, transparent person who has a listening ear and a strong voice. I will do my best to work hard for our kids making sure they have a voice. We may not always agree but I have a proven record with my long involvement in SEPAC that I will always listen and do my best to work together with the district to achieve the best outcome. We need to continue to make sure we stay fiscally responsible to our community and with State aid being drastically cut and enrollment on the rise this is going to be a challenge that we will all need to work together on. We need to make sure that the social, emotional well-being of our children is met, providing them with a safe and healthy learning environment with the support that is needed to make their day successful.

    Kim Landolfi

    I was born and raised in West Milford and grew up in Pinecliff Lake. After all these years I have made many wonderful memories in our beautiful town that I call home. My first job was working at the West Milford Hardware store, which my mom owned. I attended Marshall Hill, Macopin and I’m a West Milford High School graduate. I have a master’s degree in Social Work from Fordham University with a specialty in Older Adults and Families. I’m a social worker at a continuing care retirement community, I truly love what I do! My husband and I chose to stay in West Milford and raise our children here, for the community feel and school system. We have twins who currently attend Macopin Middle School.

    I decided to run for the Board of Education because I want to be an active part of the plan moving forward. I want to ensure our children’s voices are heard, their individual needs are being met and most importantly their rights are protected. I believe elective officials should stay out of the areas of education that are the responsibility of the parents. I’m a strong advocate for parental choice. We may not see eye to eye on everything but I can assure you that I will approach each topic objectively and advocate for every child and parent. Putting children first is my priority, while maintaining fiscal responsibility to the community. Through transparency, accountability and communication I believe we can have a strong trusted Board!”

    Henrietta ‘Morrie’ Shafer

    Hello West Milford. My name is Morrie Shafer. You will see me on the ballot as “Henrietta,” my given name. My middle name is Morrison, and my nickname derived from that when I was little. I grew up in Baltimore, MD (until age 10) and then Central Pennsylvania. I moved to NJ in ‘95, post college. I’ve lived in the same house in West Milford for 15 years.

    I have undergraduate degrees in History and Political Science from Penn State, and a graduate degree in History from Rutgers. I am a course creator for an online learning platform. I have one child at Macopin School.

    I care about making West Milford a better district academically, and retaining those kids who go elsewhere to complete their education (PCTI or private). I think that parents should know what their children are learning, and have active input in curriculum decisions. I think the taxpayers of West Milford should know exactly where their tax dollars are going, and that there needs to be accountability in spending. Lastly, I sincerely believe that the Board needs to be shaken up, and that parents who care about transparency, accountability, and excellence should sit in those seats. Our children’s education needs to be a PARTNERSHIP between parents, teachers, and administrators, not a top-down mandate. The days of blindly giving our children to “the system” are over.

    My sincere hope is that every student who graduates from this district is a person of character, who has the academic tools to make the world a better place. We need reform, and I’m here for the challenge! We can do better, and BE better as a district. We need to stop settling for mediocrity.

    Tammy Sloan

    I grew up in Hamden, Conn., before moving here to New Jersey in 1998. My husband, Jim , and I moved to UGL in October 2005. We decided on West Milford because of its beauty, school system and it’s quiet aura away from the hustle and bustle of most NJ towns! We have two children who are growing up where most people come to get away from it all!

    I am a 1996 graduate of Southern Connecticut State University with degrees in Elementary Education and English Literature! My knowledge of curriculum and education practices will be an asset to the town. I have been teaching for 24 years!

    Education is my passion!

    The most important thing we can do is make our town better for all ages and that starts at the roots of our town, our children! They will grow up and be our legacy and we need to make sure they have the best possible education and opportunities that we can offer them!

    It is my firm belief that parents and community can exist and work together! Curriculum, practice, choice and fiscal transparency are essential in this relationship!

    I look forward to bridging the gap between schools and the community!

    Duties of a School Board Trustee
    According to the school district’s website:
    “Board of Education Key Leadership Responsibilities:
    The West Milford Board of Education has four key leadership responsibilities which complement the School Board’s legal responsibility to comply with state and federal education law:
    VISION – Set the vision for education in the local school on behalf of the community.
    STRUCTURE – Establish the structure and environment to implement the vision including hiring of key administrative personnel, strategic planning and annual goal settings, development and approval of policies, setting the budget to accomplish the strategy, and setting high instructional standards for students and staff.
    ACCOUNTABILITY – Foster an environment to help each student achieve the highest standards for themselves including a commitment to high academic standards, effective assessment and measurement of progress against the standards, processes to ensure all students reach their potential, and a commitment to continuous improvement.
    ADVOCACY – Serve as education’s key advocate on behalf of students and their school in the community in order to achieve the school’s overall mission for its students.
    There are nine elected Board of Education Trustees, each serving a rotating three-year term. Each Trustee has an equal vote on all issues. The Board President and Vice President are elected by the School Board for one year of service. The Trustees volunteer their time and do not receive financial compensation for their service.”