New Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy today announced he has tapped eight new members of the 13-seat state Board of Education.
A few of the choices are particularly noteworthy. Two – Patricia Keavney-Maruca and Terry Jones - meet new membership requirements enacted last year by the legislature with the goal of making the board more sensitive to the state’s vocational technical school system.
The legislation reforming various aspects of the vo-tech system and school board operations was passed in 2010 in part because of the 2009 decision by then-Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell and state school officials to shutter J.M. Wright Technical School in Malloy’s hometown of Stamford.
The governor was Stamford’s mayor at the time.
The General Assembly called for at least two school board members to have vocational-technical or manufacturing backgrounds. Keavney-Maruca worked for years at W.F. Kaynor Technical High School in Waterbury.
The legislature also wanted one school board member to have a background in agriculture. Jones, of the four-generation Jones Family Farms in Shelton, which I must say from personal experience sells long-lasting Christmas trees and tasty wines, fits that bill.
Malloy also tapped Ellen Camhi, who, besides having a background in education, heads the Stamford Democratic Party.
Here’s the governor’s press release on his new appointees:
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced he has nominated eight residents to serve as members of the State Board of Education: Joseph J. Vrabely, Jr. of Glastonbury; Patricia Keavney-Maruca of Watertown; Terry H. Jones of Shelton; Ellen Camhi of Stamford; Charles A. Jaskiewicz, III of Norwich; Estela López of East Hartford; Ferdinand L. Risco, Jr. of New Haven; and Stephen P. Wright of Trumbull.
“It is incumbent upon us to put in place a set of standards that will allow Connecticut students to be the best educated and best prepared in the world—one that provides them with the tools necessary to compete in a global economy,” said Governor Malloy. “These nominees come from diverse backgrounds and experiences, and I’m confident they can help set the standards needed to bring our students to the top. I look forward to working with the members of the State Board of Education as we strive to ensure that all of Connecticut’s children have access to quality education.”
The State Board of Education establishes academic standards and sets policy for Connecticut’s 149 local and 17 regional school districts, including preschool, elementary and secondary education, special education, vocational education and adult education. The Board consists of thirteen members, at least two of whom have experience in manufacturing or a trade offered at the Technical High School System, at least one of whom has experience in agriculture, and two nonvoting Grade 12 student members. The eleven voting members are appointed to four-year terms.
Joseph J. Vrabely, Jr. was appointed as an interim member of the State Board of Education by Governor M. Jodi Rell in 2010. He is president and co-owner of Atlantic Steel & Processing LLC, a company he started in 2000. He currently serves as a board member and trustee of the Precision Metalforming Association’s Educational Foundation, is a member of the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, and is the past president of the Smaller Manufacturers’ Association.
Patricia Keavney-Maruca retired after serving 33 years with the Connecticut Technical High School system, having worked at W.F. Kaynor Technical High School in Waterbury, and as vice president of the State Vocational Federation of Teachers. She is an executive council member of the American Federation of Teachers-Connecticut, president of the Board of Directors of the Waterbury Day Nursery, and is a volunteer pre-school teacher aide at St. Peter and Paul Pre-School in Waterbury.
Terry H. Jones has extensive experience in agriculture, having been a life-long resident of the Jones Family Farms in Shelton, where four generations of farmers have worked the fields and forests prior to him. He has run his family farm business since high school in 1960 and, with the help of his wife Jean, has expanded the farm to 400 acres.
Ellen Camhi is a former elementary public school teacher in New York and Connecticut. She has been active in Stamford politics for more than 40 years, serving as an elected member of the Stamford Board of Education for four terms, including three years as its president. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, is a former realtor, small business owner and previously worked as an education consultant.
Charles A. Jaskiewicz, III works for Pfizer, Inc. as a Regulatory Manager focused on early product development. He currently serves as chairman of the Norwich Board of Education, where he has been a member since 2003. Having received a degree in nursing from the University of Connecticut, Jaskiewicz has worked both as a registered nurse and a paramedic.
Estela López is a Senior Program Advisor with Excelencia in Education. She is the former vice chancellor of academic affairs at CSU, serving from 2002 to 2007. From 1997 to 2002, she served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Northeastern Illinois University. She earned both a master’s degree and Ph.D. in Spanish literature from Columbia University.
Ferdinand L. Risco, Jr. is an Inclusion and Diversity Manager with Metro North, where he has worked since 2004. He is a current member of the New Haven Board of Education. Previously, he worked in supervising positions at both Pepsi-Cola Bottling Group and Airborne Express. He served in the U.S. Army from 1995 to 2000, and received a Master of Business Administration from the University of New Haven in 2009.
Stephen P. Wright has served as an attorney at Harlow, Adams & Friedman, P.C. in Milford since 1999. He currently serves as a member of the Trumbull Board of Education, as chairman of the Trumbull Special Needs Preschool Building Committee, and as co-area director of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education.