By CAROL GORGA WILLIAMS
Asbury Park’s Board of Education organized earlier this month by welcoming two new board members and installing a new president and vice president.
Carritta Cook was nominated and approved as president. She was elected in 2020 and said at the time she wanted to increase transparency by establishing a newsletter for parents and by creating a question-and-answer segment on the district’s webpage. She moved to the city in 2018 and said she wanted to make Asbury her family’ s”forever home.”
Shadeen Alls Bey was elected vice president. She also was named with unanimous support.
Michael Penna was sworn in to a full three-year term, with the endorsement of Gov. Murphy and his wife. The governor praised Penna’s work with the arts and Penna said during the campaign he wants to work to enhance arts offerings in the district.
Penna is an educator teaching Drama and English at Toms River High School North. Penna is a professional Actor and has performed professionally for more than 20 years. He is a board member for The New Jersey International Thespian Society and for the National English Honor Society. Penna was the recipient of the 2022 NJ State Teen Arts: Educator of the Year Award, the 2022 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award: for Outstanding Educator, the 2022 Monmouth Arts: Arts Education Award, the 2022 International Thespian Society: Inspirational Theatre Educator Award, the 2019 Montclair State University Foxy Award for Excellence in Theater Education and the 2018 Basie Award for Best Lighting Design of a Drama. Penna is an advocate for the arts, education, the disabled and is active in the LGBTQ+ community.
Also sworn in was newcomer Tracy Rogers, an affordable housing advocate. Rogers proposed the board consider convening hybrid board meetings in which board members are present during school board meetings onsite and also available for those who are attending online. The technical aspects of such a proposal will be researched and the board will revisit the idea, officials said.
Barbara Lesinski, the top vote getter, did not attend the Jan. 5 meeting. She was sworn in later.
The board will continue to have public meetings on the fourth Thursday of every month at the Bradley Elementary school.