LETTER: 3 members of original Hoboken ‘Kids First’ BOE team back ‘Leadership That Listens’


In a letter to the editor, three members of the original Hoboken “Kids First” Board of Education team are backing the “Leadership That Listens” slate.

From left to right: Jennifer Evans, Leslie Norwood, Irene Korman Sobolov, Antonio Graña, Theresa Minutillo, and Alex De La Torre. Photo by Tammy Li Peng.

As members of the original Kids First movement, we are writing to express our wholehearted support of the Leadership that Listens slate of candidates for Hoboken Board of Education: Leslie Norwood, Antonio Graña, and Alex De La Torre.

We’d also like to take this opportunity to put to rest any confusion that we are associated with or support the slate currently running under the Kids First name.

When Theresa founded Kids First in 2006, the District was in disarray, enrollment was down, and many families chose to leave Hoboken or enroll in other schools when their children reached kindergarten age.

Funds were not directed to the students or classrooms, facilities were in disrepair, textbooks and technology were out of date, and much of the staff felt demoralized and unsupported.

Theresa was inspired to run for the Board of Education after meeting with Hoboken High School students about a new program she was introducing there, Senior Prep Day.

The program introduced students to career options by bringing in professionals from various fields to talk to the students.

Theresa found the students perplexed by her interest in helping them. When she pressed as to why this was, they replied simply, “No one cares about us.”

Well, Theresa sure cared and so did the many Kids First candidates and BOE members who followed, and the results for the District have been nothing short of transformational.

Over the past 15 years, funds have been directed appropriately and effectively, resulting in new programs and services for all students, such as the K-12 Project Lead the Way science curriculum and Passport to Learning after school program that provides students with safe, high-quality activities and academic support, regardless of economic or educational need.

Students and staff have access to updated technology and classroom materials, teachers are supported and have continuing education, and District facilities have been improved.

The results are real: student achievement is up, enrollment is up, staff morale and enthusiasm are up.

Much of this has been accomplished in partnership with Superintendent Dr. Christine Johnson.

After years of accusations of a “rotating door” of school administrators, Dr. Johnson has been with the District since 2015, providing the stability and vision needed for transformational change and unrelenting progress.

In addition to introducing many new programs and services, she also reopened our District schools for 5 days a week, in-person learning in September 2020 for all families who wanted that choice – a feat achieved by few, if any, districts in New Jersey, and earning praise from Governor Murphy.

We wholeheartedly value and support Dr. Johnson, and know that Leslie, Antonio, and Alex do too.

The challenges are different now than when Theresa founded the Original Kids First.

Classrooms are no longer empty, instead the District now faces a facilities crunch. Enrollment has increased due to excellent staff, rigorous academics, amazing co-curricular programs, and excited District parents.

The reality is that our Middle and Elementary schools have run out of space for our burgeoning enrollment. Yes, the High School has some space – for now – but was built in the 1960’s and is an out-of-date facility. Our children deserve better, and so does Hoboken.

Leslie, Antonio, and Alex are ready to face these challenges, engage with our community and school administration to find solutions, continue the amazing progress, and make our District schools the asset our community deserves.

As members of the Original – and True – Kids First, we ask that you join us in voting Leadership that Listens – 2I, 3I, 4I for Board of Education on Tuesday November 8th.

Theresa Minutillo, Irene Korman Sobolov, and Jennifer Evans

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  1. The Leadership that Lies, Lies again!, with only one member of the OG Kids First team in their sad endorsement. They clearly lost their way and abandoned their name since no reformer would have ever found the corruption regarding the referendum acceptable. We need the Kids First team, 6,7,8 in office ASAP, as we wait as the indictments start rolling in.

    Also, isn’t Irene the homophobe who got censured by NJ Equality for her “butt buddies comment” makes sense that she supports misogynist Grana.


  2. What’s your thoughts on the way they attack people without kids?
    You know like the kid you didn’t have when you first ran?

  3. Hey Maybe it was too many puffs of weed at Maxwells or Maybe she’s just a two face liar, but here’s why nobody should ever listen to Minutillo or Sobolov

    Minutillo’s Pal Knocking a woman’s choice not to have children: https://twitter.com/votenohoboken/status/1482586594536300545

    Sobolov’s Homophobic Texts: https://hudsonreporter.com/2017/04/16/texting-troubles/
    You have selective memories. Your ugly pasts will haunt you for 3 more weeks!
    Google never forgets!

  4. Two thirds of Hoboken voted NO in January on the massive $300,000,000 school budget increase the Hoboken School Board tried to force upon all of Hoboken taxpayers without any input.

    Why would they now vote for the same group of rubber stamp candidates as those who were NOT listening and NOT transparent to them.

    I and many of the majority who voted NO in January will voting for KIDS FIRST and the chance of real representation and transparency.

  5. The slate names are confusing. There is a lot mud slinging. From one simple prespective – one that tries to stay atop of issues and potential problem solvers – the people who tried to sneak in a multibillion project on tax payers backs without community input lost my vote.

    • They’re not apologetic; they’re apoplectic the public dared get in the way of their secret $330 million scam scheduled with with a January vote no one would realize.

  6. Minutillo became such a negative that the 1st Kids First had to rebrand to get anyone else to support them

    They also tried Move Forward and Now their most offensive name ever Leadership the Listens
    They should call themselves

    “We think Hobokenites are dumb”


    “Shorter Runways”


    “Back Room Board Members”

    Or “White Parents with Kids Only”

    Or “Taxpayers F Yourself”


    “We live Chris Clark and hate women without kids”

  7. Glad to see that this is becoming a referendum on the integrity of the current BOE. What that group attempted to do was pretty awful, no other way to say it. Kids First!

  8. Why did Minutillo not run?
    Why do 4 of her former kids first allies split from her
    Carrie Gilyard ( head of Hobokens NAACP) Maureen Sulllivan, Leon Gold and Rose Markle all broke from Minutillo.

    When that many people leave you and you have to rebrand your slate with people and names- maybe it’s you ?

  9. The secret deals with select parents, secret meetings for 3 years, silent bids and buried contracts
    It’s time for some sunshine

  10. The 3rd time in a week I have heard from folks with “LTL” including one of their candidates telling voters
    “We are really concerned Pat Waiter might win…!” So we need everyone to vote.

    If this is true, Just unreal!

    This is worse than the Republican’s “Willie Horton” Commercial 30 years ago

    • Really? I think Pat Waiters winning a seat on the Hoboken BOE would be the best thing to happen to the current administration. She will bring a heavy dose of reality to these entitled (and racist?) people, and no one can question her commitment to the kids. Go Pat!