Christina Harris, Montgomery School Board Candidate
By Barbara A. Preston | Posted September 28, 2023
Christina Harris is running on the "Champions for Students" Platform with two other incumbents—Zelda Spence Wallace, and Victoria “Cookie” Franco-Herman—for one of three open seats on the Montgomery /Rocky Hill Board of Education. Also competing for a seat on the board are: John A. Sangiovanni, Deatte Gettinger and Santi Buscemi. They are running together on a platform titled "Respecting Parents." Election day is November 7.
Christina Harris, Belle Mead resident
Educator, Early Intervention
Harris participated in a Q&A with The Montgomery News. Below are her answers, in her words.
Why are you running for school board?
"As I continue my journey as a dedicated education advocate and caring mother, I look forward to further contributing to the growth and prosperity of Montgomery Township, ensuring a brighter future for its residents, educators, parents, and most importantly students. Driven by the values of kindness and bravery, I strive to be a role model for my children and our community.”
What do you consider to be the three most important challenges facing the Montgomery school district at this time?
“My top priority is ensuring the safety and wellbeing of students in all aspects of their lives, be it emotional, physical, or academic.
My areas of focus are: Fiscal responsibility; Inclusive public education for all; and Community engagement. I am a board member and an educator, but most importantly I am a parent. Most of the current board members are parents who value and support our students and other parents. It is important and for the board to hear every parent’s voice.
We live in a nation and a state where public schools have rules and regulations. Montgomery diligently and ethically abides by current laws and recognizes the role of a board of education."
Should the Montgomery School Board adopt a policy that requires teachers to provide alternative books in case a parent objects to a particular book that has been selected and vetted by the school administrators? Why or why not?
“Montgomery is a public school district. I believe Montgomery must remain committed to follow the state of New Jersey regulations and guidelines.
As a board member, educator, and parent, I think the more important issue is the communication between the educators, and parents. There needs to be a layer of trust with the families and the district and the development of our curriculum.
Choices for textbooks and materials are made based off of what is required by the state and most importantly, what is age appropriate for the students and classroom."
Should the Montgomery School Board adopt a policy that requires school staff to notify parents of the children’s gender identity and sexual orientation? For example when gender-nonconforming students wish to change their names, be called by new pronouns, or request other accommodations.
"While the schools could adopt policy around any important issue, I think the more important conversation is one about building high levels of trust, collaboration, and communication between parents and educators.
Educators perform much better when they are supported by, and in highlevels of dialogue, with parents. Parents feel and can be more helpful when that high-level of communication exists. I am speaking from a place of experience on both sides of the conversation. And on both sides of the argument, the interest of the child is paramount… and that is who will benefit from better communication.”
What professional and personal experiences have prepared you for serving on the board?
“I have worked in early intervention, and taught both general education and children with autism. I earned a master’s degree in elementary/special education with an emphasis on applied behavioral analysis, communication, and psychology. As a board member, I have experienced the learning curve involved in [connecting with fellow school leaders working towards goals]. I know I’m still learning.”
“Casey Harris, my husband of 12 years, works in healthcare. He is involved in our township’s baseball and softball program, and the Princeton Junior Tigers ice hockey program. We have three young children actively involved in all the great things of Montgomery Township. And we just welcomed a puppy to our family!”
The success of Montgomery Schools impacts everyone in Montgomery and Rocky Hill, whether they have a student enrolled in the district, have a home whose value is impacted, or both. What do you propose to improve transparency and community involvement?
“The success of Montgomery Schools impacts everyone in Montgomery and Rocky Hill, whether they have a student enrolled in the district, have a home whose value is impacted, or both. What do you propose to improve transparency and community involvement?
“Lack of transparency with this board, which values transparency and community involvement, and looks for opportunities to address this topic (such as recently hiring a district communications director), and scheduling town hall forums.
With a new school year, I look forward to continuing to find new ways and opportunities to improve transparency and community involvement. Our work is never done!"