Each year since 2005, the New Jersey School Boards Association has honored a local board of education member who makes significant contributions to public education, exemplifies leadership in the field of education with a strong commitment to the children of New Jersey, demonstrates a strong commitment to their own personal and professional development as a board member and shows active involvement on school governance at the local, county and state levels.
This year’s New Jersey Board Member of the Year is Adam Parkinson, president of the West New York Board of Education in Hudson County.
Parkinson’s service to education began when he was appointed to the West New York Board of Education at 18 years old.
At age 20, he was elected president of the board. He is the youngest person of record in New Jersey state history to have achieved this distinction.
Under his leadership, the district has achieved certification by the commissioner of education as a “High Performing District,” received an award for Energy Stewardship and was designated a Future Ready School, from early childhood to high school.
On the state level, Parkinson serves as the president of the Hudson County School Boards Association, participates in the NJSBA’s Delegate Assemblies and serves on the Association’s Legislative Committee.
He has been designated a Certified Board Leader by the NJSBA – the highest designation in the Board Member Academy for individual board members.
Parkinson’s dedication to public education extends to his professional career, as well. A former teacher at Weehawken High School, he is currently coordinator of P-12 academic programs and student achievement for Weehawken Township School District.
NJSBA’s Irene LeFebvre, president; and Dr. Timothy Purnell, executive director, surprised Parkinson with the 2022-2023 School Board of Education Member of the Year Award during the West New York Board of Education’s meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 12.
“Since the age of 18, Adam Parkinson has been a tireless supporter of public education in his community,” said LeFebvre, who was the state’s Board Member of the Year in 2020-2021. “His district has thrived under his leadership, he has advocated for students at the county and state level, and he has been dedicated to his own professional development as a board member.”
“Adam brings an impressive level of focus, energy and insight into his work as a board of education member, and the students in his community are lucky indeed to have such a thoughtful advocate working for them,” Purnell said. “On behalf of NJSBA’s members, I wish him warm congratulations on this well-deserved honor.”
Parkinson said he was “incredibly honored and humbled” to be recognized as the NJSBA’s 2022-2023 Board Member of the Year.
“When President LeFebvre and Dr. Purnell visited West New York for our October school board meeting to announce this, I was truly speechless,” he said. “I don’t think it has fully sunk in yet, especially considering the past recipients are people I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for as leaders in education. I would be remiss not to thank my incredible colleagues on the West New York Board of Education, superintendent, and central office leadership team for always having the best interest of our students in every decision that is made.”
Parkinson went on to say that he’s never taken serving his community at the local level for granted. “When I first became a school board member at 18 years old, NJSBA immediately helped me learn what it takes to be effective in this role,” he said. “I couldn’t be more appreciative of them for all their guidance and support, not only for school board members across New Jersey, but as a voice for the students of our state.”
Parkinson was nominated by Jonathan Castaneda, a fellow trustee on the West New York Board of Education, who wrote, “Our board trusts his decision-making skills because we know that Mr. Parkinson truly embodies everything that a dedicated school board leader should be. He is deeply committed to the students of our district, and I have personally seen the transformation of our schools during his tenure.”
An in-depth interview with Parkinson will be featured in a future issue of NJSBA’s School Leader magazine.
An independent out-of-state panel reviews the nominations and identifies the individual who will be honored as New Jersey’s Board Member of the Year.