By MARY ANN KAMPFE, Fair Haven School District
The Board of Education of the Fair Haven School District held its reorganizational meeting on January 8, inside the Media Center at Knollwood School.
During the 7 pm event, Board of Education Attorney Anthony P. Scarrillo administered the oath of office to newly re-elected members Michael Bernstein, Claudia Brasch, Katy Frissora, and Jeffrey Spector. All four were incumbents who ran unopposed.
According to official results received from the Board of County Canvassers, Bernstein, Brasch, and Spector were duly elected as members of the Fair Haven Board of Education for a full three-year term. Frissora was duly elected for a one-year unexpired term. They serve on the board along with Cathy Alescio, Elaine Lehnert, President Mark Mancuso, Tracy Rehder, and Randi Walker.
“After researching various school districts, we found that we were most impressed by the educational opportunities offered in Fair Haven,” said Bernstein, who moved with his family to the borough in 2008 so that his son could finish first grade at Sickles School. His desire to become involved with the Board of Education was fueled by his attendance at meetings.
“I became intrigued by how the Board of Education was able to work effectively with the administration to offer these wonderful opportunities,” he said.
Brasch, who serves as the Board’s Vice President, has resided in Fair Haven for 26 years, and has been a Board member since 2001. The mother of two adult children who attended Viola L. Sickles and Knollwood Schools in Fair Haven, Brasch began her involvement when she became Class Mother for both of her children’s homerooms. She then served as President of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) beginning in 1999.
“Serving on the Board of Education provides me with the opportunity to ‘give back’ to the community as a whole,” she said.
Frissora moved to Fair Haven with her family in 1998, after first falling in love with the town during visits with her aunt who is a longtime resident. She was immediately struck by how the schools (Viola L. Sickles and Knollwood) embodied the town’s principles of tradition, caring, community service, creative problem-solving, and individuality. Frissora originally ran for Board election in 2006, with the goal of ensuring that the curriculum remained as innovative and challenging as it could possibly be.
“I have a passionate interest not in just what is being taught, but also in how it is being taught in order to prepare our students to become productive, successful, and engaged throughout their lives,” said Frissora.
Spector and his family have resided in Fair Haven for 21 years, and his son is an eighth-grader at Knollwood School. Spector is an Associate Professor in the Computer Science and Information Technology (CSIT) Department at Middlesex Community College in Edison.
Now entering his seventh year as a Board member, Spector says that “ideally, educators should first inspire and then teach our children the information they need to attain their life goals.”
The Fair Haven School District has also announced the appointment of Jessica Soltys as District School Psychologist, and Christopher Stephan as Seventh Grade Social Studies Teacher. Soltys replaces Dr. Susan Alston, who retired after 17 years of service, and Stephan replaces Victoria Granello, who provided 38 years of service before retiring.
Soltys, who was born and raised in Toms River, has worked in New Jersey and Delaware Public Schools. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Maryland and completed her graduate training at the University of Delaware, where she worked as a Graduate Assistant in the Early Head Start program, earning her Masters’ Degree as well as her Education Specialist Degree in School Psychology.
Stephan earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics with a minor in Sociology/Anthropology from Fairfield University in Connecticut, and a Bachelor or Arts Degree in History from Kean University in Union. He previously taught Technology and Social Studies at St. Joseph School in Keyport, and at St. Rose of Lima School in Freehold. Prior to attaining his position at Knollwood School, he was a full-time Social Studies Teacher at Patrick F. Healy Middle School in East Orange. He also has experience coaching the sports of cross-country, track and field, basketball, and volleyball, and has also provided training and coaching to surfers.