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Westfield School Superintendent Honored at Board of Education Meeting

Alexandria Addesso

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 • 6:16am

WESTFIELD, NJ -- Dr. Margaret Dolan was awarded Superintendent of the Year by the Union County Roundtable of Superintendents at the Board of Education meeting on Oct. 15.

“I believe there is no greater honor than when your colleagues point out that you are pretty ...special," said Richard Bossa, a member of the Union County Roundtable of Superintendents

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Bozza and Judith Rattner, another member of the Union County Roundtable of Superintendents, attended the meeting to give Dolan her award. The meeting was attended by dozens of educators and administrators, many of whom were eager to congratulate Dolan in their own unique and creative ways.

The president of the Westfield Association of Administrators and Supervisors, Audrey Zavets, recited an acrostic poem titled “The ABC’s of Peggy (Dolan).” Kim Schumacher, the president of the Westfield Education Association, described the specific means she went through to find an appropriate gift for Dolan by asking elementary, middle school and high school students what Schumacher should give her. From the elementary students a tiara, from the middle school students an iTunes gift card and from the high school students the keys to a brand new sports car. Schumacher gave Dolan all three gifts except for the keys to the sports car, which she replaced with the keys to the district's old snow plow.

“When you do the budget you have to wear this,” said Schumacher, referring to the tiara.

On behalf of the student body, Westfield High School senior Alexa Derman, a student awarded many times for her writing skills, took the podium and congratulated Dolan as well.

“Thank you for just giving me the confidence to speak up next year at my lecture halls,” said Derman.

Board members Richard Mattessich and Ginny Leiz  added their congratulations and words of gratitude to Dolan.

“It has been my my honor, my privilege to work with you,” said Leiz. “You have no greater passion than your heartfelt gift to our children.”

Dolan credited her receiving the award to be a reflection of the students and adults of the school system rather than credit herself.

“The reason our students do well in Westfield is because of our adults,” said Dolan, “Our students are great, our students are bright and inquisitive and truly hold the key to our future.”

Also at the meeting was a presentation on the Week of Respect, a week designated by the NJEA that starts on the first Monday of October. The presentation highlighted the three aspects of respect that the school district stresses: respect for self, others and community.

The presentation also reported the occurrences of violence, vandalism and substance abuse reported from Jan. 1, 2013-June 30, 2013. Seventeen instances were reported, resulting in 19 short-term suspensions. Accounts of harassment, intimidation and bullying (HIB) were also mentioned--there were 45 investigations during that same time period, during which six HIB cases were confirmed according to the standards established by the state of New Jersey.

The board played a clip of the short film “A Teen’s Guide to Autism” that was made by Alexandra Jackman, a ninth-grade Westfield High School student. In the film, Jackman asks middle-school students, staff and then a parent of an autistic child as well as a special education teacher to define autism. She then goes on to show, in easy to understand examples, the day-to-day struggles of a person with autistism as well as multiple talented, successful autistic people.

“I’ve been working with people with special needs for about four years,” said Jackman, “I’m going to try my best to get as much people as I can to see the video and to learn from it.”

The next board of education meeting will be on Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m. at 302 Elm St. Westfield.

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