WESTFIELD, NJ – Friends, family, faculty and former colleagues of Ginny Leiz joined the Westfield Board of Education on Tuesday night to commemorate the conclusion of her 15-year service on the board.
Elected to the board in April 2001, Leiz served as vice president from 2004-2007 and subsequently as president from 2007-2010. Leiz has chaired all seven committees on the board of education and helped develop three (five-year) strategic plans in the 5,705 days since her nomination.
In presenting an honorary resolution, current board vice president Peggy Oster credited Leiz for her key role in developing the district’s Walls to Windows technology plan, helping establish the Lincoln School as an early childhood learning center and creating an energy conservation program that she said saved the district roughly $3 million.
“I can go on and on with Ginny’s many accomplishments, but on behalf of the entire board and our community, I’d just like to say thank you,” Oster said. “Your knowledge of all things having to do with the Westfield Public Schools will be sincerely missed. You will always remain a friend to this town and to this school’s district. I hope as you walk and drive around town you will remember us fondly and know that you were instrumental in developing the excellent education system we have here in Westfield.”
Current board members hailed Leiz for bestowing a wealth of professionalism and experience over time, albeit short in some circumstances.
“I only had a year also, so hearing from everyone who was able to gain from your knowledge, I feel gypped when it comes to that,” Charles Ostroff said. “On behalf of being a resident of Westfield, I’d like to thank you for your time and listening to everything that Peggy said, that Mark said, there’s definitely going to be a big gap and a lot of us are going to have to work harder.”
Many of Leiz’s former comrades helped highlight the educator’s accomplishments, including former board vice president Ann Cary.
“In many ways you are the board historian,” Cary wrote in a letter. “Every time we tackled a new problem, you had 17 folders and 12 binders to show us that the problem had been confronted before. In particular, your expertise in our negotiations with our associations helped us sign contracts the benefited the whole community.”
Others, including Gary McReady, Kim Rhodes, Julia Walker and former board president Rich Mattessich shared sentiments, attributing Leiz for maintaining Westfield’s tradition for academic excellence and always putting the students’ best interest first.
In the last meeting of 2016 and her last as a board member, Ginny Leiz shared words of wisdom with colleagues and those who will serve on the board in the future, reminding them that collaboration and trustworthiness are key.
“It has been an honor and my privilege to have served the residents and children of Westfield on the board of education for the past 15 years and eight months," she said. "As a board member, my goal has always been to develop policies and procedures that provide oversight that allow our exceptional administrators to successfully manage and operate our schools – schools that would ensure that each student is educated to become a resilient member of society with resources and opportunities to reach their individual potential.”
In November’s election, Leiz was narrowly defeated by Michael Bielen, who secured just 333 more votes to earn a seat on Westfield’s board of education. Current members Brendan Galligan and Amy Root received 23.24 percent and 31.77 percent of votes (respectively) to earn a seat.
The board will reconvene for its organizational meeting on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017.