On Wednesday, Jan. 22, the New Jersey School Boards Association gathered together the local board of education members who have been named Board Member of the Year in New Jersey to celebrate the newest honoree to join their ranks, 2019-2020 Board Member of the Year Judith Bassford of Clifton.  A photograph of Bassford was unveiled in the NJSBA conference room, where photographs of all board members of the year are displayed.

NJSBA established the Board Member of the Year award to honor an individual board member for exemplary leadership, dedication to his or her professional development,  participation in efforts to advance education governance at the local, county and state levels, and strong commitment to the children of New Jersey.  The first Board Member of the Year was named in 2005. Honorees are nominated by fellow board members, district administrators and staff, and members of the community. The Board Member of the Year  is chosen by an independent panel from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.

At the Jan. 22 event, several board members spoke about the immense satisfaction they have experienced serving on a local board of education.

“I remember someone saying, ‘the money must be great,’” said Helen Kirsch from Berkeley Heights, “and they were surprised to hear me say we don’t get paid. But it has been a pleasure to look back over the years at what we have accomplished – so much – in our little town. I put my head on the pillow every night knowing I have helped children, and it is gratifying to know you’ve made a difference.”

Board Members of the Year who were unable to attend included Maria Alamo, Nutley, 2005; Cynthia Auberger, Vernon Township, 2008; Linda Bond-Nelson, South Plainfield, 2010; Sheli Dansky, River Edge, 2016; and Sister Carol Adams, Salem City, 2018. Marie Hakim from Clifton, who was the 2006 Board Member of the Year, is deceased.

BMOY luncheon group shot
Board members, from left to right. Noted after their names are their boards of education and the year they were named Board Member of the Year. Seated in front row: Diane Holzberg, Demarest, 2011; Peggy Saslow, New Milford, 2014; Judith Bassford, Clifton, 2019; Cathy Moncrief, Lindenwold, 2007. Standing, left to right: Kevin Ciak, Sayreville, 2014; Bruce Young, Carlstadt, 2017, and NJSBA vice president for county activities; Tammy Smith, NJSBA vice president for finance; Debra Roosen, North Hunterdon-Voorhees, 2012, currently on the Bethlehem Township Board; Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, NJSBA executive director; Mike McClure, NJSBA president; Dale Caldwell, New Brunswick, 2009, and Education Services Commission of New Jersey; and Helen Kirsch, Berkeley Heights, 2015.