New Board of Ed. meets, teachers of the year are nominated

By Frances Taylor - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Wed., Nov. 23, 2011
The newly-elected Board of Education met for the first time on Nov. 21. Jeffrey Currey was named board chairman. Photo by Frances Taylor.
The newly-elected Board of Education met for the first time on Nov. 21. Jeffrey Currey was named board chairman. Photo by Frances Taylor.

In its first meeting after the Nov. 8 elections, the East Hartford Board of Education welcomed its new members and said goodbye to its former chair. Board member Jeffrey Currey was named board chairman, and Bryan Hall was named board secretary. Currey noted that in becoming board chair, he was serving in the same position his father, Don Currey, held 20 years ago.

“I hope I can bring half the dignity, respect and grace that he did,” Currey said.

Hall said that he and Currey had campaigned together over the summer and had gotten to know each other. “I walked a lot of miles with him, and knocked on lots of doors – I think we have a really good working relationship going forward,” Hall said.

New members Marilyn Pet, Stephanie Watkins and Tom Rup were seated for their first board meeting. “This is the first time I've ever run for elected office, and I look forward to helping do what needs to be done to move our students forward,” Pet said.

Mary Alice Dwyer Hughes, who mounted a primary challenge against Mayor Marcia Leclerc for the Democratic mayoral nomination, stepped down as board chair. She praised the work of the council during difficult union negotiations and the selection of Superintendent Mark Zito. “The expertise you bring is important for East Hartford schools... you really filled a void here, and you think outside the box, and I thank you for that,” she said.

The board also heard presentations for this year's teacher of the year. The nominees are each selected by their school to become the district nominee, and then move on to consideration for statewide teacher of the year. Jamie Pitkin, a math teacher at East Hartford Middle School, was the district's teacher of the year for 2011.

This year's nominees include Todd Swed, of East Hartford High, James Sullivan, of Woodland School, Kimberly Knapp, of Sunset Ridge, Wendy Weingarten, of Goodwin, Jennifer Grilli, of O'Brien, Kathleen Clark, of O'Connell, Jennifer Todaro, of Norris School, Tara McCann, of Willowbrook, Susan Kent, of CIBA, Hayley Fieldhouse, of Langford, Jorge Briceno, of Mayberry, Audrey Schiller, of Pitkin, Tanya Heacock, of Hockanum, Sharon Rose, of Silver Lane, and Karl Chris Denfeld, of Stevens/Synergy.

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