Denise Cole, a mother born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, who attended Newark Public Schools, and graduated from West Side High School, is committed to Newark Public Schools. While attending Rider University, Denise started her military career in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). Upon her graduation from the University, she served in the 404th Civil Affairs Unit in New Jersey, achieving the status of Captain before retirement. She is a veteran in the United States Army Reserve, where she still maintains her title of Captain.
Formerly, she was employed as a permanent substitute teacher for special needs students and general education students for the Newark Board of Education. Within her role as an educator, she has served as a mentor in the Newark School District for both male and female students.
Denise is a Board Member Emeritus of the Central Ward for Continued Progress/Willie T. Wright Plaza Apartments. This apartment unit complex, located at 135 Prince Street was created and developed from the ground up by her family, who managed the 115-unit apartment complex for over 40 years. The complex and main office continues to exist today. She continues her role as a public servant by maintaining her family’s legacy and dedicating her life to advocating for the needs of children, parents, teachers, staff and community in education; therefore, she has demonstrated the purpose of improving the quality of life for the community members of all five Wards in Newark New Jersey.
Denise is also Vice-President Emeritus of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) of George Washington Carver Elementary School/Bruce Street School for the Deaf in Newark, New Jersey. In 2018 and 2019, she provided testimony to the State of New Jersey which was instrumental in acquiring additional classrooms to ensure appropriate growth of the school population for the school. The new classrooms consisted of three (3) general education Pre-Kindergarten classes for three and four-year old children and one (1) Pre-Kindergarten classroom for the disabled. The fully funded allocations were secured in the school’s budget as a result of Denise’s advocacy.
Denise’s educational advocacy efforts on the state level were also successful in helping ensure the community had a voice in identifying who should be considered as a Highly Skilled Professional in monitoring Newark School District’s transition to local control. She made certain the Highly Skilled Professional was someone who represented the community and understood the unique challenges and needs of the City's school district. This resulted in the hiring of Anzella Nelms for the position.
As a community activist, she consistently delivers positive results through holding leaders and administrators accountable for improving educational standards for all students in all grades by championing the following:
- Skillful Board Governance
- Accountability for Quality Fiscal Management
- Board and Superintendent Transparency
- Meaningful Collaboration with Charter Districts
- Equitable & Effective Resources for Students in All Five Wards
She is currently a member of the Newark Chapter of the NAACP, Newark Parent Leaders Education Policy Collaborative (NPLEPC) and the Abbott Leadership Institute (ALI) both at Rutgers University under the leadership of Executive Director Kaleena Berryman and Junius Williams Emeritus (ALI). Denise regularly attends and provides crucial verbal and written testimony at Newark Public School Board of Education meetings and The New Jersey State Board of Education (BOE) meetings on issues.
In 2017, she facilitated the process with the Office of Early Childhood in filling enrollment slots throughout the City of Newark for over five-hundred Pre- Kindergarten, three and four-year old students by the required state deadline. By means of Denise’s powerful testimony at a New Jersey Department of Education listening tour on Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in a neighboring suburb, she helped arrange listening tours to be facilitated in Newark. The invitation was extended to encompass other municipalities within Essex County, New Jersey. The ESSA Tour allowed community input to the state plan which is submitted to the Federal Department of Education, for the purpose of governing education for the entire state of New Jersey. Her reputation is one of integrity, accountability, and transparency.