After three years on the Orange Board of Education, and leaving a trail of praise behind her, Mary Welander is giving up her spot on the board for a seat with the Connecticut State Representatives. She served her last meeting December 21.
“Her obligations up there in Hartford, as well as being a mom is pretty immense, and as is Mary’s character, if she can’t do something 100%, she doesn’t do it,” said Board Chairman Bill Kraut. “I’m proud of her for making this decision and for what she’s accomplished.”
The Board of Education is commonly known as the board that requires the most time and dedication.
Superintendent of Schools Vince Scarpetti said he’s not happy to see her go, but he understands. “Having three children is time consuming, and in addition to that, she is also the PTA president at Race Brook School. The time that she has dedicated and made herself available to the school and myself – I have to say that it is going to be a loss for our district. I appreciate all of the time that she’s dedicated and it impacts all of our students in all of our schools,” he said.
After letting her fellow board members know of her intent to give up her seat, she wanted to address the community during the meeting to explain the reason behind what she called a bittersweet decision. “Before and after my election to the General Assembly of Connecticut, it had been my full and genuine intention to remain until the end of my term to fulfill my responsibility to the board, the town and the families who entrusted me until next November,” she said. When her general assembly assignments were finalized, she realized she would have to give the board of education up.
She will serve on the regulation review committee, which meets year-round, the education committee, and as vice chair of the children’s committee.
“I will not be able to meet the time and attention needed to serve on the Orange Board of Education as a responsible member of good standing,” she said. “I have great respect for the board and the work that we do, advocating for the children of our town, that I could not, in good conscience, give less than my very best effort.
“While not an easy decision at all, this will allow me to be a stronger advocate for our schools in the long run,” she said. She will represent Orange, Woodbridge and Derby in the position that was held by Themis Klarides for over 20 years.
“I will be counting on each and every one of you for your experience and understanding as I work to serve our district,” she says, wishing the entire Board of Education and the school system all the best in the future. “I will genuinely miss working with each one of you,” she said. “I hope everyone knows that not every board is as supportive of each other as this board is – this willing to set aside differences and do what is best for the children.”
After Welander addressed the board and administrators, her fellow board members chimed in to thank her and wish her luck.
“Mary’s dedication, her intelligence, her attention to detail has made her an incredible board member,” said Susan Riccio.
Betty Hadlock thanked her for her passion and compassion. “Whether here or in Hartford, we know you’ll still be working for all of our students,” said Hadlock.
Kimberley Browe remembered a day when Mary stopped by her house before the election. “I’m not sure if Mary knew I lived there or not, but she asked if she could put a campaign sign on my lawn and I said yes. It wasn’t about party affiliation for us, it’s about what’s best for children, families, the town of Orange and the residents of the state of Connecticut. I am proud to have served with you and I will miss your voice on this board, but I know that we’ll have someone who’s acting on all of our behalf in Hartford.”
By Melissa Nicefaro – Orange Town News Correspondent