Newcomer joins township BOE

Lisa Hodnett is sworn in to Burlington Township Board of Education alongside incumbents Valina Marie Riggi and Antoinette Minors-Ferguson

From left, with hands raised, accompanied by their families, Antoinette Minors-Ferguson, Lisa Hodnett and Valina Marie Riggi are sworn in during the Burlington Township Board of Education reorganization meeting.

By Stephen Finn

The Sun

On Jan. 2, the Burlington Township Board of Education held its annual reorganization meeting, and incumbent board members Velina Marie Riggi and Antoinette Minors-Ferguson were sworn in, alongside newcomer Lisa Hodnett.

MaryAnn McMahon-Nester was re-elected by the board to serve another term as president, and Susan Eichmann was also re-elected to serve as vice president.

After the board accepted the resignation of longtime member Israel “Izzy” Rivera in November 2017, the final year of his unexpired term was completed by Minors-Ferguson. She was appointed at a work session meeting on Dec. 13, 2017, and served from Jan. 1, 2018, to Dec. 31, 2018. At the board’s reorganization meeting, Minors-Ferguson was sworn in again, this time for a full term of her own.

“I was elected this time, and I feel honored that my community thought that I was able to do the job again,” said Minors-Ferguson.

Given her previous year of experience serving on the board, Minors-Ferguson feels as though she’s hitting the ground running and has a personal connection to her hometown district.

“The year that I have under my belt and the fact that I have children in the school district. I grew up in the township and went to the schools,” said Minors-Ferguson. “I hope to just be able to continue to improve what we’re giving to our children.”

Minors-Ferguson believes these improvements begin with all of the people in attendance at the meeting and her fellow board members.

“It starts here with the board. Working together as a board and with the superintendent, listening to the teachers and their needs, listening to the community and listening to the students,” said Minors-Ferguson.

In her past, Riggi wanted to be a teacher, but ultimately chose a different path. She has decided instead to contribute to her local schools by serving on the board. She feels like she brings a lot to the group.

“My ideas, my passion, how much I care about the kids getting a really good education,” said Riggi.

Riggi hopes the board will work toward offering children an education that will prepare them for success in their future, whether they plan to attend college or enter the workforce after school.

Although she is new to the board, according to Hodnett she is no stranger to the district and has been involved with Burlington Township schools in various capacities over the past 12 years, such as serving on the Special Education Parent Advisory Board.

“It’s really exciting to have the opportunity to serve on the board. I know there’s a lot to learn to get going, but I’m really excited about this opportunity,” said Hodnett.

Hodnett hopes to bring her experience as a parent and a social worker to her new position. Her oldest child graduated from the district in 2017, and three of her younger children are enrolled in Burlington Township schools.

“I’ve seen some great things in this district. I’ve seen some changes they’ve made over the years, and I’ve also seen areas where we can improve,” said Hodnett. “I think the schools provide some really great educational programs and can really challenge our students.”