ELIZABETH, NJ - The Elizabeth Board of Education reorganized this week with veteran member Stephanie Goncalves chosen as President for 2019.

Charlene Bathelus was sworn to a new term on the board and newcomer Iliana Chevres was sworn to her first term. Bathelus and Chevres were elected in November. Nathalie Hernandez took the oath of office after being appointed by the board to fill a vacancy. Diane Barbosa will serve as board vice-president for the year.

Goncalves said the district’s diversity is its strength and will help propel the district to even greater achievement for its students.

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“Our community is so unique and special because of our long history of Elizabethans, a vibrant and diverse group of people, who have been born and raised here and have grown up to make contributions here that take our city to a new level of prominence,” Goncalves said. “I am so proud to sit here today as an Elizabethan who grew up here, attended schools here, and volunteers here. Instilling that sense of pride in our community is very important to me.

Goncalves added, “Diversity is at the heart of the Elizabeth community in so many ways and it is vital to the well-being of our children. I believe that our diverse supporters including parents, teachers, administrators, Board members, and community members bring a wealth of knowledge and educational opportunities to our children.

Parents, I encourage you to be active participants in your children’s education and to participate in the PTA or PTO at your child’s school in any way that you can. I want our children to feel and understand the importance of giving back to their community and there is no better role model than you. We have an excellent group of teachers and administrators who are working hard to provide your children with a high-quality education and appreciate the support of our families. Working together, we can and will prepare our students for great college and career opportunities. In my profession, I work with families throughout the county to deliver effective and accessible programs and services that help youth reach their full potential and I want to ensure that we do that here at Elizabeth Public Schools.

The diversity of our community is a strength for our schools. We will continue to ensure that all students will receive the resources necessary to succeed and that we continue to monitor an assess data in a way that helps us to close achievement gaps of all kinds. Elizabeth Public Schools believes that ALL students can learn and achieve at high levels regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, neighborhood, household income or home language and it is vitally important that we uphold that belief.”

Chevres is Site Director of Prevention Links at the Elizabethport Community Center. She is the founder of the Elizabeth Parent Support Group, a non-profit that provides free services weekly to special needs children.

“I am a faithful believer that education and sports are the basis in creating a better society equally preventing crime and school desertion.,” Chevres said.

Bathelus took the oath in an emotional ceremony remembering her late father. She is beginning her third term on the board. She was joined by dozens of members of the Elizabeth community during the swearing-in and by members of the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority.

Hernandez is a Court-Appointed Special Advocate who represents children in Union County’s foster system. She works as the coordinator of the Union County Office of Community Engagement and Diversity and serves as a volunteer with numerous community organizations.

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