Meet the Board of Education Candidates (Part Three): Jessica Daye, Carol Gabriel, Telissa Dowling

This is our continuing coverage of the Jersey City Board of Education elections, coming up on November 5.

The four available BOE seats will be occupied by the highest vote-getters. Elected board members will work as advocates for children and families of the district, act as advisors to Superintendent Marcia Lyles and the schools’ administrators as well as serve as liaisons between the schools and residents of the district.

Jessica Daye

Jessica Daye

Jessica Daye, 33, was born and raised in Jersey City. An alum of PS16 and McNair, she currently lives in Greenville with her husband, their 7-month old, and 4-year old who attends public school. A graduate of Rider (B.S.) and Columbia University (M.Ed.) Dayne works as a Bilingual Special Education Advocate at a nonprofit civil rights law firm in New York City.

“As a person who became blind at the age of 5, I have seen first-hand the importance of fighting for and receiving a quality education,” said Daye. “My parents, whose first language is Spanish, advocated for me to attend a regular class at PS16.  Even with their limited English, they knew that I had an equal right to a quality education.”

Daye said that she learned from her parents and advocated for her education throughout high school, college, and graduate school. She added that her professional experiences in the field of special education have taught her how to successfully engage with and professionally challenge school representatives to ensure that students receive a appropriate education.

“My overall experiences have made me who I am today, an advocate at heart,” she said. “And I wish to bring those skills home and serve as an advocate for our Jersey City students.  I believe our students deserve a fair chance to a quality education, the same goal I had for myself years ago.”

As a BOE member, Daye anticipates serving as a liaison between parents, and most importantly, students, and the administration/district.  She also hopes to work closely with the city and its various departments to ensure the safety of students as well as provide more opportunities for after-school programs and activities. She added that our schools are in need of improvement in terms of overall test scores, graduation rates, and overall performance but has hopes that under Superintendent Lyles, things will get better.

“Change will not happen overnight,” she said. “But I am willing to put in the work.”

Amongst the changes she would like to see more teacher support implemented and resources in schools added (such as tutoring, specialists, etc.) that would offer students a chance to receive differentiated instruction and allow teachers the flexibility to address students’ unique needs. She would also like to increase parent engagement and make sure those who need it receive language services especially during BOE meetings. Daye is running on the Candidates for Excellence ticket, with three other mothers who were vetted and hand-picked by a group of active parents and community leaders.

Carol Gabriel

Carol Gabriel

Carol Lynn Gabriel, 67, has lived in Jersey City for over 50 years and currently lives downtown. She is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University and also received a certificate in Public Policy from St. Peter’s University.  This past June she retired from the Jersey City Board of Education as a Paraprofessional.

A mom of two adult daughters and grandmother to four, Gabriel is aware that work as a Board member will entail a tremendous amount of reading and research to set policies and attend to the budget, as well as trying to implement the changes she is fighting for on behalf of constituents.

The number one challenge, she said, is getting grades up, followed closely by not ” teaching to test”, and making our schools the best looking with the best materials.  She would like to see the BOE work to bring parents into the schools and work within the urban challenges that city life places on many parents.

In addition to the Recreation Department, which many candidates cited as an important ally, Gabriel also sees the Historical Department as an important ally. “Our city has a wonderfully diverse history and I believe our students should be knowledgeable about this,” she said. “There are so many, many things I like about Jersey City I could go on for quite a while. There is so much more this city has to tell about itself.”

Gabriel said she is running for the Board of Education because she has spent twenty-seven years in the classrooms and knows what needs to be done to get students reading, moving ahead, and becoming the best they possibly can with the attention and materials that are needed. I will express enthusiasm, hard work, be a team worker, express  creativity and honesty with good ethics.

Gabriel is running independently, which she says ensures that she owes no favors to anyone. “This position is not a stepping stone onto bigger and better things,” she said. “I am retired and love the city I live in and want the State of New Jersey to praise our schools as the best in the nation and not be our overseer.  The children in Jersey City deserve this as they are our residents and our future voters and possibly our  leaders.”

Telissa Dowling

Telissa Elizabeth Dowling, 44, was born and raised in Jersey City. She currently lives in Greenville. An alum of PS #15, Ferris High School and graduate of St. Peter’s University, Dowling works as a substitute teacher and cashier at McDonald’s. Her daughter, who she said was one of the first students to attend pre-K class in the Jersey City public school system, is now having her own first child.

Dowling said she is running for BOE to stop privatization of more jobs in the district because she herself is a direct result of that, as she is currently a privatized substitute teacher and is no longer an employee of the public school system.

“Our schools will become overcrowded and understaffed if we allow privatization to take over,” she said. “We must hold the Governor’s administration accountable.”

Dowling said she would view her responsibility as a board member to create strong relationships with the community and encourage the community to support of our local schools, “getting the word out about how great our students and staff are.” She would interact with the Interagency Task Force (a group consisting of community based and non-profit organizations along with representatives from the city and county which meets monthly).

“I would work closely with what is already working in the district,” she said. Adding that she likes being “un-bought and un-bossed.”

“I only have to answer to the students and those that voted for me,” she said. “When I am elected, Jersey City will continue to get me as I am telling the truth and questioning, “Is this fair for all our students?” and demanding change to happen… I will help stop setting our schools up to fail.”

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Photos courtesy of the respective candidates

More Nov 5th Pre-Election Coverage:

Lana Diaz

is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Hudson Reporter, Jersey City Magazine, 07030, Palisade Magazine, and other publications. As a Wordsmith, she currently hosts various events around the area. For more information, visit lanarosediaz.com.