NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Superintendent of Schools Aubrey Johnson said when he added it up, the nine members of the Board of Education have served more than 135 years combined.

"That shows your commitment to the city of New Brunswick and to the students," Johnson said. "And know there's a lot of work that we need to continue to do to make New Brunswick the best place for our students."

Johnson presented each member with a plaque at the Board of Education meeting on Jan. 18, saying, "Your drive to ensure that we put students first in all decision-making is resounding."

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One by one, board president Diana Solis, vice president Dale Caldwell and board members Benito Ortiz, Patricia Sadowski, Emra Seawood, Jennifer Sevilla, Jennifer Shukaitis, Edward Spencer and Patricia Varela, came to the center of the stage to be recognized.

Afterward, Solis thanked Johnson for the acknowledgement.

She said it was especially gratifying since many people - including some of the educators in the New Brunswick school district - don't realize that board membership is not a paid position.

"All of us here work, aside from our retirees," Solis said. "We have regular jobs and we take our time outside of our work, outside of our families and we sometimes abstain from participating in activities with our own families in order to be present before the board and, like Dr. Johnson mentioned, there are so many years collectively amongst all of us and we are proud to serve the city of New Brunswick as board members for this Board of Education."

Solis said there is an uncommon amount of teamwork among the members of the board.

"And, although we know that there is a long way to go, we are also very proud of how far we've come and all the accomplishments we've made collectively as board members through the administrators of this district. So, thank you so much and I know that we always acknowledge how well we are all able to work together when we go to these conventions and we see sometimes how dysfunctional other boards are, how we are able to communicate so well with each other. And so, thank you guys for always listening and working so well with us."