At its latest meeting, the Palmyra Board of Education received certification from the New Jersey School Boards Association and discussed the possibility of a mural for one of the exterior walls of the high school with the Palmyra High School Foundation for Educational Excellence.
During public forum, three members of PHSFEE, Jodie Demas, Kate Johnson and Mindie Weiner, approached the board to discuss the possibility of adding an artistic mural, designed by graduating senior Daphne Phillippoussis, to one of the exterior walls of the high school.
According to Johnson, a local artist and educator, PHSFEE has raised $38,000 for Palmyra schools, most of which has gone to science programs. Looking forward, the foundation is turning its focus to promoting the arts in the district.
“I’m hoping there’s a way to get the mural project to a larger audience, which is this board, to take a vote to approve it,” said Johnson.
She compared the project to the mosaic that is on display at the Palmyra Community Center.
“That’s the kind of public art that we’re planning on creating at the high school. Where it’s designed by an artist, but executed by the whole community,” said Johnson.
PHSFEE was recently awarded a $3,000 grant from the Ellis Foundation for the mural and plans to match that grant with $1,000 of its own funds.
The board did not offer an answer one way or the other, indicating only that individual committees are in the process of reviewing the proposal.
“There was sentiment that this is something that is a positive thing and there is interest in it. The issue is at the moment is we have so much that we’re trying to undertake with limited resources, and for us at the moment, it’s a question of resources,” said board member Sean Toner of the finance and physical plant committee. “We’re not struggling with the idea of a mural on the building per say, it’s how do we thoughtfully go about it and how do we deal with it with the resources we have.”
NJSBA field service representative Jesse Adams came to the Wednesday night meeting to present the board with its NJSBA Board Certification plaque. Adams serves Burlington, Mercer and Camden County schools, providing direct services in consulting and training for boards of education.
“This is one of my boards and a board I am very proud of,” said Adams.
The NJSBA has a board academy that offers certification programs for individuals seeking a particular position on a board as well as an overall board certification meant to be completed by a board as a collective.
“From a philosophy perspective, we tell boards all the time it’s a team sport,” explained Adams. “What they do for the children is determined by them as a team, not by the individuals.”
The board certification program allows the board to take on professional development training over a period of time. According to Adams, there are several milestones and requirements that have to be met, including participating in a full-day retreat.
“Sometimes it’s a painful experience, but this board took that on and we spent a Saturday together,” said Adams.
Last month, the Palmyra board was awarded its board certification at the annual NJSBA awards dinner. Adams ended his presentation at the meeting by presenting the board with its NJSBA Board Certification plaque.