The Haddonfield board of education observed a moment of silence for its former board member Adam Sangillo at its meeting on Nov. 18, three days after his death.
After approving a short list of action items at the session, including the emergency virtual/remote instruction program, the board recognized Sangillo.
“We believe that Adam would have expected us to continue our work supporting the district’s students, staff and families, yet we believe that a standard business-as-usual meeting would be inappropriate,” Superintendent Chuck Klaus wrote in an email to residents before the session. “All other discussion will be tabled until the next board meeting on Dec. 9.”
Following action items, the board and residents in attendance reflected on their memories of Sangillo’s life and the impact he had on the community. He was described as passionate, a leader, and a person who would engage in friendly debate.
“He was the type of person who was open and brought out the best in you, and I really liked who I was when I was with him,” Board President Jaime Grookett reflected. “I think he made me a better person … In his memory, I know I want to keep that part of me that he brought out and carry that with me.”
Board Vice President Linda Hochgertel remembered Sangillo’s vision and leadership.
“Adam’s vision was to take us from this really good school district and move us to greatness,” she said. “I believe we can get there. That’s the path he started down.”
She noted that when his health started declining, many people asked Sangillo what they could do to help, and the answer was often, “There’s nothing you can do.”
“But there is one thing I can do for you,” Hochgertel noted. “And that is to stay on the path that [Sangillo] started, and not let [his] work be in vain.”
Haddonfield teacher Kimberly Dickstein Hughes expressed her students’ admiration for Sangillo.
“He made my students feel like they were game changers, like they could change the world,” she said. “… How many board of education presidents can say that they will never be forgotten by their students?”
As people shared their memories, many thanked the board for allowing the time to grieve together. Several residents requested that the board memorialize Sangillo, by naming a building after him or creating a bust or a statue.
The next board of education meeting will be on Monday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m. in the library of Haddonfield Memorial High School. The meeting will also be livestreamed.