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Jessica Deutsch ‘91 believes that her multifaceted background in education prepares her well for the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education. 

“I’m the only candidate who has professional background in education and social work,” Deutsch said.

A native of Warren, N.J., Deutsch attended Watchung Hills Regional High School. There, she participated in student government and pursued volunteer work, chiefly with The Valerie Fund, a nonprofit focused on pediatric cancer. 

Deutsch pursued coursework in American Studies and English while at the University, and was awarded the Morris W. Croll Poetry Prize. Deutsch also received an Ed. M. from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education and a Masters of Social Work from the Rutgers University School of Social Work, and was a member of the Phi Alpha honor society. 

In her professional life, Deutsch has pursued several education-related endeavors. In particular, she has worked at Crossway Community as a program associate and at the Institution for Education Leadership and the Academy for Education Development as a research assistant. Deutsch later worked at the University as a reader in the admissions office and as a pre-med and health professions adviser. She has also done private consulting for nonprofit organizations and has worked and as an educational adviser. 

Deutsch has sat on a number of boards — among them, the Friends of the Library Board for the Princeton Public Library, the HiTops board, and the 101 Fund board. HiTops, according to their website, is a “health education and advocacy organization,” and the 101 Fund is a non-profit organization that provides graduates of Princeton High School with need-based scholarships. 

In 2010, Deutsch created the social media group Princeton Balance after attending a screening of Abeles and Congdon’s Race to Nowhere. Through Princeton Balance, Deutsch shares articles, ideas, and information that relate to and promote student wellness. 

With two children who attended public schools in Princeton, Deutsch has now decided to continue her work in education-related endeavors by running for a seat on the school board.

“I am running because I think that my longstanding efforts around wellness, my professional skills, and personal experience, all prepare me to be able to address the whole range of issues facing the district,” wrote Deutsch in an email, noting issues of social inequality, budgetary limitations, overcrowding, and tensions with the charter school. “I understand that tackling complex problems requires both urgency and patience, reaching out to and listening to all voices, AND keeping a focus on a big, ambitious picture goal like preparing all students to thrive…” 

If elected, Deutsch hopes to focus on student wellness and on ensuring that high school students are prepared thoughtfully for life after graduation. 

“I think too many kids come out of high school and they are exhausted by it rather than inspired by it,” she said. “I want the schools to be places where students can do well and be well, and I don’t think those two things have to be in conflict.” 

She emphasized that achievement and balance for students are not mutually exclusive. Her main focus will be on culture and on working to ensure that students are supported. 

“When a student comes to the high school, I am not sure we are paying enough attention to designing what their next four years are going to look like in a really individualized way,” she said. “I think there is an assumption in a kid’s mind and in a parent’s mind, and maybe in the teacher's and counselor’s mind about what the model is.” Through the board, Deutsch hopes to challenge that assumption. 

The election will take place on Nov. 7, with Deutsch running against five other candidates for three spots on the board.