Good evening. My name is Tessie Thomas and I am the President of the Montclair Council of PTAs (PTAC) an elected body that represents and supports the whole community.
What a year it has been – 2022 has its ups and downs and I am glad to observe that we have had more ups than downs! At the last BOE meeting, the official results of the elections had not been announced. I would like to congratulate and welcome the three newly elected BOE members – Yvonne Bouknight, Brian Fleischer, and Monk Inyang. You raised your hands, went through the elections, and are going to be on the Board now. You did this knowing fully well that these are unpaid volunteer positions with long hours. You did it because you care about this community deeply, you care about our children, you care about education…..and for that we are grateful as well as thrilled at the storied resumes that you bring to the Board to continue addressing issues that have an outsized impact on the future of our community and the world at large.
As we heard, tonight also marks the end of the term for Board President Latifah Jannah and Vice President Priscilla Church.
As I said a couple of months back, in this role, I have worked very closely with the Board and have learnt that the Board members are driven to do right by us. These fellow Montclair citizens put in long unseen hours, go through pages and pages of documents and ask incisive questions. This is a group that is often called to stick their necks out and make decisions that are not necessarily popular. Ms. Jannah and Ms. Church – you both, in your own way, exemplify this leadership. You have put in the hours and have shown mettle in tough times.
Ms. Jannah – you have been a true leader who has consistently remained unfazed at so many difficult issues that were thrown at the Board. In keeping with the public nature of the work here, some of these difficult issues happened live and you, Ms. Jannah, would step in with your calm demeanor and lay out an even keeled approach that would allow progress in a fair manner. That sounds easy as I say it, it is the highest form of leadership when one practices it and Ms. Jannah – you practiced and guided us all, through true leadership. Your years of experience in the school district and your stewardship will be missed. Also, we are convinced that you must have a few clones in Montclair. How else is it possible for you to be seen at every community event. You made sure that the Board was represented. Staying closely connected with the community was clearly a priority for you. Thank you for giving back to the community – we are so grateful! We wish you the best with all your free time now…
Ms. Church – your decades of experience as an educator and a leader provided invaluable contributions to the Bond Referendum effort among other things. Your evaluations and insights were straight from the perspective of a child’s education and development – and it served as a constant reminder of why we do any of this. Ms. Church – you are the strongest representation of the “Cause” – the reason we all put in the time and effort. You care deeply about the children and preparing them well for the 21st century. That unrelenting focus inspired us all. Whenever there was scope creep or any diffusion of focus, you brought us back and reminded us what was important. You personify the Board member driven by the singular focus to do what is right and communicate it even when it is not the popular thing to do. Thank you for all that you have done for the community and we wish you also the best with all your free time!
Switching channels to the exciting program being conducted by the PTAs at every school – Reflections! PTAC conducted this program for the very first time in Montclair last year. This year’s theme is “Show Your Voice” and the entries are coming in fast. There is just one week left for anyone who is planning to send in artwork. The deadline for submissions is Sunday, December 18. Students can drop off work and artist statements to their respective teacher at school in person or via email in any of the six categories – visual arts, photography, music composition, literature, film production and dance choreography – Entries are reviewed at the local PTA level, the PTA council level, the NJ state level and finally at the National PTA level. Just like we did last year, all winners and participants will be celebrated at the Montclair PTA Council’s Reflections Celebrations on May 4, 2023.
Lastly, on behalf of PTAC, I would like to wish everyone a wonderful time with your loved ones as you close out the year, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year.
Onwards and upwards…