Letters to the Editor

Synopsis of Westfield Board of Education Meeting Feb. 7




  • Following my recommendation to the Board, the appointment of Dr. Derrick Nelson as Principal of Westfield High School was unanimously approved effective February 8. Dr. Nelson has served admirably as Acting Principal at the High School since August 2016.  During that time, he has demonstrated proven leadership skills while building positive relationships with school stakeholders. The district underwent an established search process – in which parents, teachers, administrators, and a representative of the Board of Education participated – resulting in interviews with several candidates.  None was better qualified, dedicated or prepared than Dr. Nelson.  As an administrator in our district since 2010, he is thoroughly familiar with our policies and procedures; he knows our students, staff and community; and he is a highly capable administrator.

Board President Gretchan Ohlig, who served on the search committee, stated that Dr. Nelson was the perfect person to move the school forward. 

Dr. Nelson thanked the Board for the opportunity of working at Westfield High School, where “students, staff and administrators give 100%.”  

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  • The Board accepted with regret the retirements of Anne Cohen – Roosevelt Intermediate School – Fine Arts, who has been a Westfield art instructor for more than 25 years, and Maria Santilli – Westfield High School – World Languages, who has taught Italian at WHS for 23 years.





  • The Board unanimously approved a proposal by the Westfield Soccer Association to place temporary lighting at Kehler Stadium for practice during the spring soccer season. Peter Franks, a trustee of the WSA, stated that instead of using lights for three months as the WSA did in 2015, lights only will be used for March and April 2017. These lights will be better shielded and directed to reduce spillage.  In addition, to reduce noise, the amount of generators will be reduced to three instead of the four used in 2015.  The WSA will occupy the field once the Westfield High School teams leave, from approximately 7:15 – 9:30 PM for three days a week. 


Gretchan Ohlig, who is a member of the Board of Education’s Facilities Committee, stated the Committee’s recommendation to permit the lights is based on the fact that the WSA proposal meets or exceeds all the parameter set forth in the Facilities Committee report generated after the 2015 pilot program.  Ms. Ohlig and other Board members also noted the need to minimize intrusion to the neighbors. Unlike 2015, the Facilities Committee does not recommend that the Board police or monitor the use of the temporary lights on a daily basis.  Instead, the WSA will be on-site every day to address any emergent issues.


Four residents who live near Kehler Stadium individually addressed the Board with concerns about lighting and noise, with two requesting a report with details of the WSA’s temporary lighting plans.  Ms. Ohlig responded that they will receive an outline of the WSA’s proposal.




  • Business Administrator Dana Sullivan reported that the district received approximately 19 bids for the intermediate school auditorium renovations.  They are being reviewed and a decision can be expected by March. Mrs. Sullivan and Facilities Committee Chair Brendan Galligan also gave an update on the solar projects, stating that permits and the approval process are underway with installation expected this summer.  Work on resurfacing Kehler Field is anticipated for the summer of 2018.  Mr. Galligan explained that the field had outlasted its life expectancy.





  • The Board approved for second reading the following policy: 3240 – Professional Development for Teachers and School Leaders (Teaching Staff Members)
  • The Board approved for second reading to abolish the following policy (which is now covered by policy 3240):  3244 – In-Service Training (Teaching Staff Members)


  • The Board affirmed my decision on three Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) incidents.



  • The Board approved for second reading the following curricula:
    • Mathematics
      Elementary Mathematics
    • Social Studies

Debate:  Examining Point of View
Fundamental Principles of Economics and Personal Finance


  • The Board approved district field trips to correlate with curriculum.



Peggy Oster reported on her attendance at the Tamaques PTO meeting at which the topic of Time Management was presented by Carol Pedro of Youth and Family Counseling.  The well attended event provided parents with skills and tips to manage children’s schedules.  The presentation supported the district’s goal of increasing parent outreach.

Robert Garrison reported on his meeting with the Garden State Coalition at which different school funding  options were discussed. 




Co-founders of the Westfield Solidarity for Safety presented a proposal for the district to consider specific books on diversity.  In addition to responding that I will be pleased to review the list, I assured the residents that the importance of diversity and respect are intertwined within our curriculum.  I also stated that the make-up of our strategic planning committee – which worked to set the foundation for the district’s next five years – included persons of various ages and ethnicities. I absolutely believe that it is important to hear from all stakeholders in the community.  Board member Amy Root invited all parents to attend the monthly Parent-Teacher Council (PTC) meetings which include a session that is open to the public.



WHS- Performing Arts

  • We are pleased to announce that 5 of our Westfield High School students have been accepted into the 2017 New Jersey All-State Band. They include: Seniors:  Dale Beyert on Trumpet, Michael Hauge on E-flat Clarinet and Matthew Schiff - Bass Clarinet, and Sophomore  Austin Chen on Trumpet, and Freshman Brooke Walden on Piccolo. This is the largest number of Westfield High School students accepted into the All State Band in at least six years, and Westfield High School has one of the largest representations of students. These five students will perform with the All-State Band on February 25 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center at 3 PM.
  • Congratulations to these Westfield High School students who will perform on Saturday, February 25, at 3 PM at NJPAC in Newark as part of the 2017 All State Treble Chorus: Senior, Emma Stern; Junior, Olivia McElheny; and Sophomore, Nicole Player.
  • Congratulations to Westfield High School violinists Morgan Eng and Kevin Li who were accepted into the Central Jersey Music Education Association’s Region 2 Orchestra. We wish these sophomores the best of luck in their All-State auditions which will be held in March.
  • Don’t miss A Night of Love Songs this Saturday, February 11, at 7 PM at Westfield High School. Doors open at 6:30 PM.  The evening will include solo, duet and full choir performances by the Choraleers, Concert Choir and Bella Cora, as well as desserts and coffee.



  • The Union County Baseball Association will honor Westfield High School’s Chris Rinaldi, class of 2016, as the Most Outstanding High School Baseball Player on Feb 12 at the Association’s award ceremony. As the senior captain of last year’s varsity baseball team, Rinaldi hit a .357 batting average and helped the Blue Devils to a school record 18 straight wins.  Rinaldi has said, “The thing I love most about baseball is that you can't do it by yourself, and that in order to be successful, you really have to play as one collective unit.” He begins his college career this year with Division 1 Holy Cross, and says he will miss his time playing for Westfield High School.


  • Congratulations to 11 student athletes who have signed national letters of intent this spring. These Westfield High School students, their sport and the college they will attend are as follows:


Division I





Owen Kessler


Georgetown University

Liz Brucia

Girls Soccer

University of Georgia



Division III





Shannon Devitt


The College of New Jersey

Loukas Caraynoploas

Boys Soccer


Leigh Scarano


University of Scranton

Noah Reich

Boys Tennis

Williams College

Devyn Heinzerling

Girls Track

Gettysburg College

Christina Seery

Field Hockey

Franklin & Marshall College

Samantha Alfano

Girls Lacrosse

Gettysburg College

Lila Hutchins

Girls Lacrosse

Bates College

Aditya Singh

Boys Cross Country

Stevenson University



Parents whose children are currently in middle school or will be entering middle school in the near future are encouraged to view a newly created educational video entitled, “What Middle School Students Need Most from their Parents.”  It is posted as a Parent Resource under the “Parents” tab on the district website:  www.westfieldnjk12.org It also can be seen on WHS-TV36 Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.  Based on a presentation by Westfield school counselors Kim Schumacher, Christine Trottere and Cristina Caprara at Roosevelt Intermediate School, it was originally part of a parent workshop called Coffee with Counselors. The workshop was taped so that parents who could not attend the workshop also could benefit from the excellent explanations provided and the strategies recommended by the counselors. One parent explained, “Their hands on, practical advice already made a difference in my parenting. These are great tips for parents to remember on a day to day basis and we appreciate their advice.”


Mary Tarashuk, who has been a fourth grade teacher at Wilson School for 19 years, has been chosen as one of two Educators’ Choice Content Award winners in the country.  This award was given to Mary for her original blog entry, Teaching by Doing Something Meaningful. Ms. Tarashuk was selected from among 20 nominees by Smart Brief, a digital media company based in Washington, D.C., which will honor her at an emerging leaders’ reception at the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development’s (ASCD’s) annual conference in Anaheim, California in March.


Westfield Public Schools will be closed on Friday, February 17 for Staff in-Service and on Monday, February 20, to observe Presidents’ Day.  


The next meeting of the Westfield Board of Education will be held on Tuesday, February 28, at 7:30 PM. The complete agenda will be available on the Board of Ed website on Friday, February 24.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor.

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