The Toledo Board of Education added two members Thursday and selected its leadership team.
Chris Varwig and Polly Taylor-Gerken, both victors in the November election, were sworn in at the board’s organizational meeting. And, as expected, board members Cecelia Adams and Bob Vasquez were unanimously elected as president and vice president, respectively.
Leading the school board runs in the Adams family. Ms. Adams is the daughter of retired chiropractor Samantha Adams, who in 1977 became the first African-American woman elected to the school board. She was board president from 1979 to 1981.
The former Toledo NAACP president died last year, and her daughter frequently gets emotional when she talks about her. Ms. Adams said her mother would take her children with her on everything she did. Ms. Adams said she’s been able to draw inspiration from her mother during her own time on the school board.
“I feel very blessed and honored,” she said. “It’s really something that I will treasure for the rest of my life.”
Among Ms. Adams’ priorities for the year are the development of a strategic plan for Toledo Public Schools and a stronger emphasis on career and vocational-tech programs. The board formed a strategic plan advisory committee at Thursday's meeting; the committee will help formulate a five-year vision for TPS.
Her focus on career and vocational tech aligns with Superintendent Romules Durant’s vision. Mr. Durant, who last month had the interim tag removed and was given a contract that extends to July, 2018, has voiced interest in centralizing some of the district’s career and vocational-tech programs, in a way re-creating the former Macomber Vocational High School.
Ms. Varwig and Ms. Taylor-Gerken were sworn in by the Rev. Randall Parker III, who ran unsuccessfully for one of three open board seats in November’s election. Ms. Varwig and Ms. Taylor-Gerken fill the seats vacated by last year’s board President Brenda Hill, who chose not to run for re-election, and Larry Sykes, who ran for city council and was sworn into that seat Thursday.
Mr. Vasquez, who was the sole incumbent to run for re-election to the board, also was sworn in Thursday to his new term. Members teased him for being the only man on the new school board.
“This will not be the first time I won’t be able to get a word in edgewise,” Mr. Vasquez said to laughs from his fellow board members.