WESTPORT, Conn. – Westport’s Board of Education is once again complete. Jeannie Smith, a former teacher, was unanimously elected to the board Monday night by the six other members. She fills the vacancy created when former acting chairman Jim Marpe resigned in November.
Smith, a mother of four young children, worked for 11 years as an educator in Westchester County, N.Y. She began her career as a fourth-grade teacher and then became an inclusion teacher in a special education inclusion program piloted at her school. Later in her career, she worked as an educational consultant for a private school in Manhattan, where she helped to train teachers.
A registered Republican, Smith was among the four candidates who ran for one of three seats on the board in 2011. Her running mate, Jennifer Tooker, won the Republican vote. Democrat incumbent Mark Mathias and his running mate Michael Gordon, current board secretary, won the other two seats.
“I, like many, got to know Jeannie during the 2011 campaign season and was impressed by her knowledge of education, which she described as both her profession and passion,” board Vice Chairman Michael McGovern, also a Republican, said after nominating Smith. “I don’t know if we had a more prepared candidate step forward to fill the vacancy.”
A member of the Westport Young Women’s League, Smith was also vice president of fundraising for the Kings Highway Elementary School PTA.
Smith’s nomination was supported by Gordon, who said she will not only enhance the congeniality of the board, but that her background as a teacher will also prove useful.
“Today is a good day for our schools,” Gordon said. “Today we’re getting someone who understands what happens in the classroom better than anyone else.”
Marpe, who served on the board for nearly eight years, resigned to pursue his bid for first selectman in next year’s municipal election. Because Marpe was a Republican, his seat needed to be filled by another registered Republican.
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