MONTCLAIR, NJ - The Montclair Board of Education has selected a new President. Longtime educator, Latifah Jannah is the new Board president and Priscilla Church is the now the vice president.

During the virtual reorganization meeting of the Montclair Board of Education on Monday, Jannah accepted her new role by thanking former president Eve Robinson for her service.

Jannah said, “It was an honor to work beside you.” She also thanked Interim Superintendent Nathan Parker, as he will be leaving in July.

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There were no new members to sworn in during the meeting; however, outgoing Board President Eve Robinson announced that the Board has adopted a new leadership rotation designed to assure stability and continuity in the future.

In this new format, Board members will be expected to rotate leadership positions each year, including officers and committee chairs, so that every Board member has an opportunity to participate in all aspects of Board functioning.

Committee chairs will be named later by President Jannah. Outgoing President Robinson stated that this new rotation system was created through the unanimous agreement of all six current board members in order to grow leadership and ensure smooth transitions for newer members.

Robinson said, “I was honored to serve as Board President this year and look forward to working with Ms. Jannah and Mrs. Church as they embark on their new roles. I am confident that they will do an excellent job.”

Robinson spoke of past challenges during the school year that included stairwell collapses, teacher shortages at the high school, parent uproar over racial commentary made by Interim Superintendent Parker and now COVID-19 closures.

She added, “We thought last year was challenging.” In a reference to the staircase collapse and unexpected departure of Superintendent Kendra Johnson. “That was nothing compared to this year,” she added. 

“We didn’t know we would be in this transformational time at the end of the school year, but here we are."

It was announced that Montclair High School would be having a virtual graduation ceremony for students on June 24. Attention will also be given to the mental health of students as they continue the lockdown.

Parents spoke to express concern over the virtual learning, citing anxiety and burnout. Parker responded that the virtual programming was a balancing act because some parents preferred more direct instruction and virtual meetings, while others are requesting more time for students to be creative. He further stated that there was No blueprint to virtual learning.

The district stated that they will be sending out a survey to parents asking for feedback on virtual learning.

As questions arose around reopening procedures or possible social distancing plans, Jannah responded that it will be a challenge. She said, “I know it’s going to be a challenge, it’s going to be a different challenge from what we went through last year.”

19 Governor’s Educators of the Year recipients were announced. With the staff members and their families in attendance, they were acknowledged.

Each of Montclair’s 11 schools had at least one staff member honored. They could be nominated by parents, administrators or peers. Jannah congratulated them saying, “You are truly Montclair’s finest, and I congratulate all of you."

Honorees are as follows:

  • Vanna Bautista: Art Teacher, Bradford
  • Ruby Campbell: Social Worker, Bullock
  • Syreeta Carrington: Social Studies Teacher, restorative justice coordinator, Glenfield
  • Mi Soo Chung: Third Grade ELA Teacher, Hillside
  • Traci Cioffi: Tech Coordinator, Edgemont
  • Kaitlin Corcoran: Kindergarten Teacher, Edgemont
  • Lauren Csuka: Guidance Counselor, Montclair High School
  • Patricia Dowling: Nurse, Bradford
  • Ellen Haggerty: Special Education Coordinator, Nishuane
  • Lorrie Hunter: Kindergarten Paraprofessional, Northeast
  • Rodney Jackson: Social Studies Teacher, Renaissance
  • Marissa May: Kindergarten Teacher, Nishuane
  • Greg McGrath: Fifth Grade ELA Teacher, Bullock
  • Kathleen Piller: Special Education Teacher, Watchung
  • Debra Polizzano: Social Worker, Watchung
  • Janet Villalobos: Special Education Teacher, Northeast
  • Tameka Stafford: Special Education Teacher, Renaissance
  • Joseph Turner: Social Studies Teacher, Buzz Aldrin Middle School
  • Jaime Walker: Special Education Teacher, Center for Social Justice Leader, Montclair High School