New Members Take Their Posts With Stafford Board of Education

Jan 10, 2018
Photo by: David Biggy Superintendent George Chidiac (left) gathers with Stafford Township Board of Education members Patricia Formica, Deborah Lyons and Gerald Simonelli after the three were sworn in to their posts on Jan. 8.

Keira Formica seemed to have little trouble hamming it up as pictures were being taken following her mother’s swearing-in as a new Stafford Township Board of Education member.

“She’s very proud of me,” said Patricia Formica, who took her oath along with re-elected board member Deborah Lyons and fellow newcomer Gerald Simonelli on Jan. 8 as the board reorganized for the new year. “She’s been calling me ‘The Queen,’ so she’s having fun with it.”

For Formica, the fun began during the weekend when she hit the road for Princeton – amid the mounds of snow following last week’s blizzard – for an orientation session catering to new school board members, as she prepared for her three-year term.

“My head was spinning a little bit this weekend,” she said. “But I just stepped back, took a breath and said, ‘Others are doing this, so you can, too.’ There’s going to be a learning curve. I can’t come into this like a bull in a china shop, like I do with my real estate career. I’ll do a lot of listening and learning to start off.”

For Simonelli, a teacher in a different school district with a fairly lengthy history as a committee and board member at various levels, seemed slightly shocked by the depth of his first behind-the-scenes endeavor within the district.

“It was very interesting,” he said. “It was run very well, very organized. But like anything else, it’s brand new, and it’s going to be a little overwhelming to take it all in. And it was just that. But I’ve got three years of this, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Once the oaths were taken and the incumbent and newcomers took their seats behind their respective nameplates inside the Stafford Room of the Oxycocus School building, the official board business at the outset of the new year took all of three minutes, as Michael Hemenway and Richard Czajkowski were voted on to resume their posts as board president and vice president, respectively.

“I don’t mind being in the hot seat,” Hemenway said afterward. “Things are going OK, so it’s Rich and me for another year.”

Hemenway believes the new board members will bring a lot to the table during the next several years.

“Gerry’s an educator, and it’s always nice to have another educator on the board because he knows the ins and outs of a lot of things,” he said. “And Trish is anxious to learn and is very gung-ho for her role on the board. Having new people serving on the board is great, and it should be a good year for us.”

— David Biggy

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