Meet Maureen Sullivan
My husband, John Koppisch, and I are the parents of two children, Timothy, a fifth grader, and Julia, a third grader. I am originally from Union County and graduated from Linden H.S. When my father lost his jobwhen the company he worked for went out of business, I knew I would have to pay my own way through college. I graduated from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in American Government.
A position as the sports editor on the college newspaper, The Hoya, led to a career in journalism. I worked for the Associated Press and the Westfield Evening News in Massachusetts. I wrote daily columns for The Daily Journal in Elizabeth and the Tampa Tribune in Florida. From there I moved to South Africa, where I covered business and current affairs for the Financial Mail magazine. I celebrated in Soweto the day Nelson Mandela was released from prison and later met him and Winnie Mandela. In 1995 I moved to Hong Kong where I worked for Variety entertainment newspaper and covered the handover of the British colony to China. It was while living in Hong Kong that John and I adopted our two beautiful children.
We moved to Hoboken in 2001 when John accepted a job in Manhattan. He is now an editor at Forbes magazine.
Although I am very proud of my Irish roots, I should point out that I am Italian on my mother's side. My grandfather, Giuseppe Orsillo, grew up in Pietrelcina, Italy, with his cousin, who is now known as Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio).
Here's the letter I wrote to the Hoboken Mom's group on Yahoo.com.
Dear Fellow Hoboken Moms:
My name is Maureen Sullivan and I am running for a seat on the Hoboken school board. The election is Tuesday, April 15, and I am asking for your vote.
Like you, I know what it’s like to raise a family in Hoboken. There’s the joy of pushing your kids on the Elysian Park swings while cruise ships sail by on the Hudson, or bumping into friends along Washington Street. There’s also the horror of trying to cross the treacherous streets with a doublewide stroller while clutching the hand of a recalcitrant toddler.
And like you, I’ve had endless discussions about the pros and cons of the schools in Hoboken. Who doesn’t want a top-notch education for their child? When I moved to Hoboken in 2001 after nearly 12 years of living and working as a journalist in South Africa and Hong Kong, I had a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. I was steered away from the public schools but I decided to put Timothy into the Mile Square pre-K at Wallace. I was impressed by the program and decided to give the kindergarten a try. He was lucky enough to have Tammi Oberstein (who now teaches first grade at Connors) as his teacher and he blossomed. I always said I would take it year by year and now he’s in the fifth grade at Connors and his sister, Julia, is in third grade. At school they participate in an advanced distance-learning math program run by Johns Hopkins University.
Along the way I have learned that the only way to guarantee that top-notch education is to get involved. I am the president of the Connors PTO and a member of the School Leadership Committee, a small group of parents, teachers and administrators that steers the school’s policy decisions. I have also fought for parent representation on committees designed to reform the gifted and talented program and refocus the district’s curriculum.
I am unafraid of the entrenched interests that proclaim: “that’s the way it’s always been done.” I fought for safer conditions for the three-year-olds when they were moved to Brandt Middle School in 2002. I pushed for parental involvement at the Wallace open house and now that’s the norm. When the city decided not to open the high school pool last summer, I worked with the recreation department and the board-- and the kids got to swim. I’ve been attending the monthly board meetings for years and have spoken up often about the failures and successes I’ve encountered.
Right now many of you haven’t focused on schools yet. I can tell you with absolute certainty that time flies. My little girl is calculating perimeters and my little boy won an award for his science fair project on water filtration. (Can you tell I’m a proud mom?) Although the choice of school is a very personal decision, I want more Hoboken residents to feel as though the public schools are right for them. For too long the district has not welcomed new families into the schools. I have challenged administrators who believe the schools belong to them and not to us.
As a member of the Hoboken school board, I will remain an independent voice for the parents who put a premium on good schools. As a Georgetown University graduate with a degree in American government, I will fight for excellence in education. I will also continue to be unafraid of speaking up for the taxpayers who are willing to pay to educate the city’s children but who don’t want to be ripped off by a bloated bureaucracy.
I will always remember that I am spending your money and educating our children.
Here's my submission to the Hoboken Reporter for its intial rundown of each of the candidates:
What can you bring to the school board of elected? What separates you from other candidates? What qualifies you to be a school board member? [Answer this anyway you want, you can answer all three, focus on two and ignore the third or answer only one and ignore the other two.] (100 Word Limit)
When my son began the Saturday U gifted and talented program two years ago, I saw problems with curriculum, safety and oversight and brought them up to the board and superintendent. I didn’t outline the problem and then expect others to fix it. I worked with several parents to overhaul the long-neglected program. Every day I entrust my children to the Hoboken public schools and I have an obligation to make sure they get the best education they possibly can. As a board member, I will fight to ensure that all Hoboken children get what they deserve: an excellent education.
What are the most important issues currently facing the Hoboken School District and how do you plan to address them? (200 Word Limit)
For too long this city has allowed the reputation of our schools to wither. We’ve heard countless times that if you move to Hoboken, you can’t put your kids in the public schools. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Over the years, we have hired top teachers and upgraded the education we offer. Now we need to take it to the next level and proudly proclaim our excellent programs, such as the partnership with Johns Hopkins University. We must challenge and inspire our students by raising expectations. Our best students need to aim for the best colleges and be shown how to get there. We also can’t ignore those who need vocational, technical and career training.
As a board member, I also wouldn’t forget that I represent the taxpayers, who are willing to pay to educate the city’s children but don’t want to continue handing over a blank check. Hoboken has twice as many administrators per student as the state average and continues to hire more. The administration is content to spend millions on out-of-towners who illegally enroll their children here. Why? I intend to find out when I’m on the board. I won’t be a rubber stamp.
-Where you’re from originally/When did you move to Hoboken/Why?
I grew up in Union County and lived in Washington, D.C., Florida, Massachusetts, South Africa and Hong Kong before moving to Hoboken in 2001 when my husband accepted a new job.
I was a journalist for many years and covered the end of apartheid in South Africa and the handover of Hong Kong to China in the 1990s. I do a lot of volunteer work with Connors school now: I am president of the PTO, a member of the School Leadership Committee and chairman of the Connors @ 100 committee organizing the school’s 100th birthday celebrations.
I have been married to my husband, John Koppisch, for 16 years.
-Have children/How many?
Two: Timothy is 10 and Julia is 8.
-Do they go to Hoboken public schools? Don’t need to be any more specific, just a simple yes or no will suffice.
-Education? Where you went to school, what degree you earned and what your major/focus was?
I graduated from Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., with a degree in American Government.
*Please include additional information about yourself that you would want in the paper. (No Word Limit)
Although my name gives away my Irish roots, I’m also proud to be Italian on my mother’s side. In fact, my grandfather, Giuseppe Orsillo, grew up in Pietrelcina, Italy, with his cousin, Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio).