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January is School Board Recognition Month!

Logo Gov. Phil Murphy has proclaimed January as School Board Recognition Month in New Jersey, citing the “countless hours, without remuneration” spent by nearly 5,000 local board members who oversee operations in 580 school districts.

The governor acknowledged the important role board members play in making New Jersey’s public schools among the best in the nation.

“New Jersey’s local boards of education endeavor to meet the challenges facing public schools and help students attain the education necessary for postsecondary success so they may compete in a global economy,” the governor stated.

“School boards are democracy in action. No other public official, elected or appointed, has a greater impact on the lives of children than the local school board member,” added Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, NJSBA executive director.

In honor of School Board Recognition Month, let’s get caught up with two longtime Ewing BOE members who stepped down last month after many years of service to the community.

Thank you to all BOE members past and present! 

Carl Carl Benedetti

What made you first decide to run for the Board of Education? 

I knew from the time that I was a senior in Ewing High School that I wanted to serve my community upon graduation. Having the luxury of staying home for college and getting my education locally allowed me to explore the opportunity of running for the board. Being a recent graduate of the Ewing Public Schools, I had never seen a younger individual with a seat at the table. I thought that I could provide a unique perspective to the discussion which previous boards had been missing. Several key stakeholders in the community encouraged me to run, and on my second attempt, I was successful.  

How many years have you served on the Board?  What was your driving force to want to continue to serve on the Board for longer than one term? 

I have served on the Board of Education for nine and a half years. What has motivated me to serve beyond one term are the various projects that you become passionate about over the course of time that you spend on the board. For example, when pursuing my third term, the Board and Administration were in the early stages of assembling our "Referendum '18" proposal that would be put out to the public for a vote. Knowing how significant of a legacy these projects would be to our schools, I felt a responsibility to visit and hear from the various parent and student organizations throughout the district. For this once in a generation project, we, as a board, needed to do as much as we could for as many students as possible in that referendum. As a result, with the public's support, we are in the process of state-of-the-art facilities upgrades that will benefit decades of students in Ewing Township.  

What accomplishments are you most proud of? 

The accomplishments that I am most proud of are those projects that have provided a greater range of in-house services to Ewing's students while simultaneously benefitting the tax payers of Ewing Township. Our greatest example of that kind of work is in the Frank O'Brien Academy. With this facility, we are able to service our most vulnerable population of students with our own highly-qualified staff. Historically, the district has sent these students to out-of-district placements, which can be incredibly expensive. These students can now thrive in the comfortability of their home district, while Ewing saves hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.  

I am also incredibly proud of the technological advancement our district has made during the last nine years. We are now at a 1:1 ratio for students to computers in the Ewing Public Schools. We've also continually upgraded from various SMART Boards to Promethean boards in the classroom. Our students cannot succeed unless we provide a 21st century learning environment. As a new board member, this was something I considered a main objective in my tenure, and I could not be prouder to see it come to fruition.  

Do you have any last thoughts that you would like to share with the school community? 

I would like to thank the Ewing community for your trust and support to serve this district for three terms on the Board of Education. Now, more than ever, we need parents and community stakeholders to attend meetings and interact with the board. If you cannot attend every meeting, please try to attend some throughout the year. It has been the honor of my life to represent the district that gave me so much as a K-12 student. Our strength is in our diversity, and being a product of the Ewing Public Schools has taught me that lesson. I have become the person I am because of our incredible staff and administrators, and I will always be an advocate for the Ewing Public Schools. 

 What are your plans for the future? 

Having recently bought my first home in Ewing, I am going to continue my involvement in our community in one form or another. I am currently employed by a local small business that I plan on eventually owning myself. I am committed to Ewing Township, for the long term, and I am open to whatever form of service may come my way in the future.  

Karen Karen McKeon

What made you first decide to run for the Board of Education?

I first decided to run for the Board of Education when my children were students at Antheil Elementary. As a volunteer with the Antheil PTO I wanted to become a stronger advocate for smaller class sizes.  I believe that class size has a direct impact on the success of a child’s education.  I am proud this was something that we as a board were able to address.

How many years have you served on the Board?  What was your driving force to want to continue to serve on the Board for longer than one term?

December 2020 will conclude my 12th year and fourth term as a member of the Board of Education.   I continued to serve to ensure small class sizes and to maintain student exposure to a strong fine arts and music program. 

In addition, my belief in the importance of extracurricular activities & sports and desire to make them available to a greater number of students was a driving force behind serving longer than one term.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

Looking back over the past 12 years I can honestly say that along with my fellow board members and the district administrative team we have made a positive impact on the Ewing Community.  I am proud to walk away knowing that our focus has been on meeting the educational needs of every student and I wish our students continued success.  Looking ahead for the future of the Ewing School District I am very proud of Referendum 18 which is focused on creating safer, healthier, and more modern schools for Ewing students.  These referendum projects not only impact our current students but future students in the many years to come. 

Do you have any last thoughts that you would like to share with the school community? 

I have been fortunate to be able to serve this community and see all the amazing opportunities that are available to Ewing students.  Thank you to all of those who work tirelessly to ensure students are given every opportunity to succeed.    

I encourage families to become involved and volunteer.  Of course, I would highly recommend running for the Board of Education, it has been one of my most rewarding experiences.  I have been fortunate to collaborate with my fellow board members and district administrative team, who care very deeply about the school community. 

My last year serving on the board of education was not as expected due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. I am proud of how our school district continues to handle the challenges presented by this pandemic and always makes decisions that are in the best interest of the school community. 

 What are your plans for the future?

As my chapter with the Ewing School District ends a new chapter begins and I look forward to future opportunities to serve.  Once McCarter Theatre reopens its doors for live performances, I am looking forward to returning to volunteer as an usher.   

Awards

Thank you to all BOE members past and present!