Last Thursday’s (Nov. 14) Board of Education meeting was the end of an era for three Board members who are retiring from the board after completing two terms in office. Chair Chris Finkelstein, vice-chair Laura Schwemm and secretary Lory Rothstein were recognized for their service by Superintendent Kevin Smith and fellow board members Gretchen Jeanes, Glenn Hemmerle and Debbie Low. Each remaining board member took turns thanking them for their service and reminded all present on the Board’s accomplishments over the last eight years.

Rothstein reminisced about how much has changed since she joined the board. “It is a completely different world now than it was eight years ago, every building principal in the district has changed within the span of eight years, and so too had the superintendent and two assistant superintendents.”

Jeanes spoke of Rothstein’s dedication and love of Wilton, and how she has enjoyed serving with her on the teaching and learning committee.

Hemmerle described Schwemm as a rock. “A solid person, with a solid foundation, her commitment is beyond compare,” he said, adding how he will miss Schwemm’s wise and sage comments.

Low reminded the board of all the work that Finkelstein has been involved in over the last eight years–Athletic Task Force, Nutrition Council, Hall of Fame sub-committee chair, and Board Policies sub-committee chair.

“She takes great pride in our schools, she added department workshops to the budget, she worked with Dr. Smith on producing the budget presentations and she ran clear, focused and efficient meetings, with thoughtful deliberation and a non-partisan approach,” said Low.

Finkelstein spoke of her first task as a BOE member. “The first thing we did was take a tour of Miller-Driscoll (pre-renovation). It was an eye-opening experience and it first sunk in the enormity of the task. It is remarkable how much has happened over eight years–common core, full day kindergarten, a whole new vocabulary of SBAC, SRBI, UDL and MAP.”

All outgoing board members echoed Finkelstein’s sentiments that their most proud achievement was being able to recruit “…the ambitious young Bethel superintendent, Kevin Smith, to Wilton.”

Smith spoke with sincere gratitude for the work that the board members had undertaken on behalf of the schools and the town. He acknowledged their role in the transformational work that the district has undertaken, and the countless hours they have spent on committees. As the coup de grace testament to the dedication of the three departing leaders, Smith shared the news that the Wilton Board of Education has been recognized for a second year as CABE Level 2 Leadership recipients, as one of only 10 school boards in the state to receive the honor in 2019.

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