Meet The BOE Candidates: Cheryl Merklinger

Tyra Hughes, Copy Editor

WEST ORANGE, Nj — From the moment Cheryl Merklinger was a young student at Gregory, Roosevelt, Mt St Dominic Academy and then Rutgers University, her family has instilled upon her a love and passion for kids and giving back, and she is now one of the 3 candidates for the 2 open seats of the WOBOE. Growing up around a very community involved family who has been in West Orange for 88 years, Cheryl Merklinger has since then become a West Orange PAL Cheer Coach and has been widely involved in youth sports.

When I interviewed her last month, as she coached the young girls for cheer, she showed a love and passion for kids that she hopes to use to her advantage as a BOE candidate. In an interview with Essex News Daily, Merklinger said,“My father began coaching in the PAL program when he was 17 and my family has been involved ever since.”

With a son of her own who currently attends Roosevelt Middle School, and a husband who is a teacher, Cheryl Merklinger has insight on the educational world in addition to her experience in the business world at West Orange Police Athletic League Board and Prudential. At West Orange PAL, as a board member, Merklinger has acquired budgeting, researching, marketing and program implementation skills. At Prudential, Merklinger has had many roles, including Team Leader, National Account Manager, Corporate HR and Projection Management. Merklinger feels that all of which have strengthened skills that she hopes will best help improve the WOBOE.

At Prudential, as a team leader she supervised a claim team, trained new hires, assisted in the interview and hiring process and ensured the dynamic of team members with objectives and overseeing results in bi weekly basis. As a National Account Manager, Merklinger tackled managing the budgets, requests for proposals, rate renewals, analyzing data and creating presentations. Merklinger has also had a chance to practice her passion for helping the youth in Corporate HR, where she was a part of improving the recruiting team and helped interviewing. She also did presentations at schools and helped young people discover what job at Prudential was best for them.

Merklinger feels that the WOBOE can best improve in communication, and with the skills in communication and efficiency that she has gained in her past work experiences, she hopes to make WOBOE more proactive. While she applauds the BOE for spreading positivity on the accomplishments of young West Orange students and community, Merklinger believes that they are less proactive in terms of dealing with crisis, such as the most recent being Legionella. Merklinger especially wants the BOE to refocus on the idea of team effort and break the myth that micro management rules over the BOE and controls the teachers. If elected, Merklinger hopes to bring the team effort and efficiency in setting deadlines and goals, especially in serious problems into the WOBOE. Such improvement will not only better the BOE but also ensure the success of teachers, staff and students around the district.

In my interview with Merklinger, she said,  “I know our number one priority is to ensure the correct facts are communicated to the public; in some instances I think we can put out a statement in a more timely manner at least acknowledging a situation was brought whomever’s attention [sic]…We need to be mindful of that and look into having some sort of SOP (standard operating procedure) that allows for exceptions/alternate handling when necessary. If I am fortunate to be elected to the BOE, this is certainly something I would like to look more into.”