LIVINGSTON, NJ — In front of a standing-room-only audience at Tuesday night’s Livingston Board of Education (LBOE) meeting, recently elected Livingston Board of Education members Samantha Messer and Seth Cohen were officially sworn into their positions. Cohen joins the board as a first-time member while Messer resumes her seat on the board as she enters into her second three-year term.

Adding a new twist on the installation ceremony, Livingston Public Schools (LPS) Business Administrator Steve Robinson presented the new board members with the customary plaques.

Cohen and Messer were also asked to bring along a book that meant something to them and give a brief explanation as to why they chose the books they did. With their children and other loved ones standing nearby, the newly elected members placed their hands on their selections as the oath was administered to them.

Sign Up for Livingston Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

“I chose ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ which is one of my favorite books to read and to teach,” said Messer.  “The thing that I love most about this book is what Atticus Finch has to say about courage. It always remains with me and is something I teach my kids, and that is: if you’re afraid to do something because you’re afraid you’re going to fail, then that means you have to do it.”

Cohen selected his children’s favorite books to use during the swearing-in ceremony.  

“One thing you’ll find about me very quickly is that I do things my way,” said Cohen. “For me, the books that mean the most are the ones I’ve read to my children over and over again.”

Long-standing board member Ronnie Konner was then unanimously selected by the board to take up the mantle of LBOE president, followed by the unanimous appointment of Messer to the position of vice president.

“As five individuals, each with different backgrounds, perspectives and styles, we also have common goals and hopes for our children: to provide a quality education for all children with authentic experiences that prepare them for a global economy; to support them on their educational journey, enabling them to discover their personal passions and goals; and, perhaps most importantly, to work to create a safe space so each day they can thrive socially, emotionally and academically,” said Konner.

Konner opened the floor to the public by reminding those in attendance that public input at LBOE meetings is a critical factor in informing board initiatives. She encouraged the public to remain actively involved by attending meetings and participating in collaborative conversations, voicing what is foremost on their minds.

Outgoing LBOE member George Shen took the floor to make a special presentation to all five board members of a book that fittingly meant something to him. A student of leadership guru John Maxwell’s theories, Shen bestowed a copy of “The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential,” to each LBOE member. 

“In the past three years, I learned a lot from my colleagues, and I wanted to take this opportunity to appreciate them,” said Shen.

Konner closed the meeting by reviewing the three areas and 25 committees that LBOE members serve as representatives on in addition to their regular LBOE responsibilities.

Konner publicly confirmed which board members would be assigned as representative to each committee.

The three groupings under which the committees fall include: board committees dedicated to policies such as curriculum, finance and facilities, special education and technology; township committees focused on items that benefit the community at large, such as youth sports, green initiatives, and diversity; and educational committees that encompass parent-teacher, county and state school board associations.

Konner also assigned LBOE members as liaisons to each of the district’s schools.

For a complete list of upcoming LBOE meetings and associated agendas, click here.