• The NJSBA officers and Warren County School Boards Association's Executive Committee join in the celebrations of Betsy Ames’ 100th surprise birthday celebration.

Elizabeth “Betsy” Ames, who has served with great distinction as a school board member on both the Warren Hills Regional Board of Education (from February 1969 to April 2002) and the Franklin Township Board of Education (from April 1992 to the present), was honored for 55 years of service to her commitment to advancing the education of children at the Warren County School Boards Association’s May 22 meeting at The Architect’s Golf Club in Phillipsburg.

She just turned 100 years old, and the meeting also served as an opportunity for board members to wish her the very best as she geared up to celebrate her milestone. Attendees sang “Happy Birthday” and celebrated the occasion with a cake.

Watch a video highlighting Ames’s incredible legacy of service. You can also view the video at the end of this article.

At the meeting, Lisa Marshall, president of the WCSBA, read a resolution honoring Ames.

Representing the NJSBA at the meeting were Dr. Timothy Purnell, executive director and CEO; Karen Cortellino, M.D., president; Barry Fitzgerald, vice president for county activities; Dr. Tom Connors, vice president for finance; and several others.

While delivering remarks at the meeting, Cortellino said, “We salute Betsy Ames of the Franklin Township Board of Education for 55 years of board service, and we celebrate her 100th birthday with her. Her dedication, resilience and lifelong commitment to education is remarkable. Throughout Betsy’s century-long journey, she has witnessed the transformation of education and the impact it has had on shaping our society. Her unwavering dedication to making our schools better has left an indelible mark on countless lives, generations and communities. And her legacy reminds us all of the transformative power of passion, perseverance and service. Thank you Betsy … and I want to wish you a  very happy birthday!”

Ames, who had family and friends in attendance, took the opportunity to thank everyone for celebrating her service, reflecting on how much the NJSBA has changed over the years from when she attended her first Workshop decades ago in a converted hotel room in Atlantic City. She also noted the great work of Ray Pinney, the Association’s director of member training and engagement, who joined the NJSBA many years ago as a county activities coordinator, as well as Marie Bilik, the NJSBA’s former executive director.

The NJSBA, she said, has been “so wonderful” and has provided her with substantial resources over the years to ensure she could be “a contributing board member,” she said.

“I think we all have to think about who our constituents are,” she told the crowd, referencing the children who attend schools. “Take a look at your mission statement at every board meeting to remind yourself of why you are there and what the future holds for the people you are helping become all the things you say in your mission,” she said, adding that someday, the children that board members are seeking to help will become the leaders of the planet.

After the meeting, Purnell reflected, “Reaching the incredible milestone of 100 years, Betsy fondly recalled her first Workshop in Atlantic City, stating that it was not a convention, it was a workshop. For decades, Betsy has dedicated her life to serving the children in her district as a tireless volunteer board member, embodying a legacy of commitment and compassion.”

Numerous leaders in education were on hand to recognize Ames’s service, including Somerset County Executive County Superintendent Dr. Roger Jinks, whose first superintendent job was in Franklin Township in Warren County, which Ames served.

Bilik remembered meeting Ames for the first time when she served the Association as a county activities coordinator.

Rudy DiGilio, president of the Franklin Township Board of Education, spoke about how much of a pleasure it has been to serve on the board with her over the years.

At the meeting, the Franklin Township Board of Education presented a sign that reads the “Elizabeth Ames Legacy Gallery,” which will be displayed in one of its schools.

Ames has served on New Jersey School Boards Association’s board of directors as both a delegate and an alternate delegate representing Warren County as well as president of the Warren County School Boards Association. She has also achieved the level of Certified Board Member and Master Board Member.