By Okon Ekpenyong, Peaches Anderson & Tonya Kelly
Despite the demands of work as an attorney and Chief Ombudsman of the Ohio Workers’ Compensation System Beryl Brown Piccolantonio regards it as an honor and privilege to serve as board president of the Gahanna Jefferson school board since first being sworn-in in January 2016. A mother of “three wonderful sons and married to my husband, Andy,” Beryl Brown Piccolantonio, who was at the 66th annual Ohio School Boards Association Capital Conference and Trade School told New Americans magazine of how the Gahanna Jefferson school board has performed and other future plans:
The most challenging and most important long-term goal was to figure out a plan to address our aging and overcrowded buildings. Thanks to support from our community, we passed the levies needed and are in the middle of a plan to update, and/or add onto every building in our district, build a new elementary building and build a brand-new Lincoln High School.
I was thrilled we were able to come together safely in-person. After such an incredibly difficult year for board members everywhere, it was a true joy to see board colleagues in person this year. My only major disappointment is that we did not have enough votes to amend our legislative platform to include protection for sexual orientation and gender identity. We were close, and I have hope it will pass next year, but every day we wait is another day these students do not have our full support.
I learned a lot of things, but one of the best parts of the conference is the chance to re-connect or meet board members and school administrators from across the state to exchange ideas about how best, to serve students. It was wonderful to hear how many districts are working hard to make sure all students feel a sense of belonging in their school community.
Gahanna School District
Gahanna is well on our way to strengthen our goal to make sure all of our students feel a sense of belonging which will make not only our school community, but our entire community stronger.
I learned some new communication strategies to help explain to the larger community why it’s important to ensure that every single student has an equal opportunity to succeed.
It was a relief to be with colleagues and other strong supporters of public education. I left feeling rejuvenated and excited about the hope of doing better for every single student in this state.
The city sent a clear message by electing Kara Coates, Dion Manley, and Sue Horn as the newest school board members.
New Board Members
This community said loudly and clearly that they value public education and believe we need to have school board members who are dedicated public servants committed to serving ALL students and community members.
The Ohio School Board Association has lots of wonderful professional development opportunities for board members in areas including good boardship, diversity, equity, and inclusion, legal topics, and legislative updates.
I have attended before, but this year was extra special, given the very difficult past 20+ months in public education. OSBA is a wonderful organization with dedicated and professional staff who do a great job bringing all of us together and making sure we have the tools and knowledge needed in order to best serve all students in the state of Ohio.