Summit Board of Education Prepares for Changing of the Guard; School Body Members Praise Contributions of Emile George

Credits: Greg Elliott / TAPinto Summit

SUMMIT, NJ—At its regular May meeting, on May 11, the Summit Board of Education will reorganize for the year with the election of a new president and vice president and the addition of a new member to its ranks.

Current president David Dietze is expected to pass the reins of the top spot to current vice president Richard Hanley, and newly-reappointed Board member Debra McCann is expected to be elected vice president.

Meanwhile, Donna Miller, former chairman of the board of trustees of the Summit Area YMCA, will be joining the school board for a three-year term. She will replace Emile George who is completing a one-year unexpired term on the education body.

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At the Board of Education’s May workshop session, members of the Board praised the insight George brought to the school body from his 40 years of experience in the City's public schools, along with his willingness to “learn the ropes” in his new role “on the other side of the table.”

In his last post with the Summit Public Schools, George was the assistant principal at the Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School, a post from which he retired in 2010.

Dietze, who served on the Summit Board of Education Policy Committee that the outgoing Board member chaired for the last year, cited his attention to detail and his ability to keep things moving.

Aside from George’s own background in education, which he continues as an adjunct professor of education at Fairleigh Dickinson University, the outgoing Hilltop City Board leader cited the fact that George’s daughter has followed in her father’s footsteps and now is an assistant superintendent of schools in another school district.

McCann, who proceeded the outgoing board member as chair of the policy committee, said “he dove right into” the work of the committee, which can be somewhat difficult to master at first. Even though he brought years of experience in education, she added, he knew he was somewhat of a novice in the Board policy area and took every opportunity to learn more.

Hanley agreed, saying George “jumped right into the learning curve.” He also cited George’s dedication to the Board, noting he missed only one meeting, and that was to attend a family wedding.

Although Debbie Chang was named George’s mentor on the Board, she said she learned more from her mentee than he learned from her. She also cited the outgoing Board member for his service on the Board education committee.

In his remarks, George said each of the Board members provided outstanding work to the community and helped him gain valuable insight into “the other side of the fence” in education.

McCann, in her final report as leader of the Board education committee, cited the valuable data provided by school officials at the committee’s final meeting of the current Board year.

She said the data points relative to the learning workshop, English language learning, fifth-and-sixth-grade language arts, PARCC and the District programs for the gifted and talented, help the committee get a much better handle on enrollment, participation and how each area functioned that would help the committee make more informed decisions on educational programming in the future.

Additionally, McCann noted, the committee gave its approval to more STEAM electives and many other new courses at Summit High School that were expected to come before the full Board in the future.

Although the operations committee did not meet in April, Hanley, its chairman, said a memorandum to the committee from assistant superintendent for business Louis Pepe gave outlines about how the Summit District would be using budget funds unspent at the end of the current year to make “selective investments” in the few projects that had not been completed during the regular budget cycle.

Debbie Chang cited as a major accomplishment of her communications committee the institution of Power School registration for the district that would enable all Summit students to re-register this coming September online for the first time.

She also noted that information about school matters was getting out to the public in a much more timely fashion thanks to postings under the direction of new school information officer MIa Bivaletz.

Also, as liaison to the Summit Educational Foundation (SEF), Chang cited an SEF meeting she attended during which the foundation reported that this year’s “Spring Into Excellence” fundraiser had been one of the most successful in the foundation’s history.

She added that a number of Summit public school teachers and staff had submitted grant applications during the Foundation’s spring cycle, and Foundation officials would award the grants at a Board of Education meeting in June.


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