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Departing school board members get high marks for service

Published 6:49 am, Tuesday, November 12, 2013

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  • Departing Board of Education members Jennifer Tooker and Michael McGovern at their last meeting as board members Monday night. Photo: Jarret Liotta / Westport News contributed
    Departing Board of Education members Jennifer Tooker and Michael McGovern at their last meeting as board members Monday night. Photo: Jarret Liotta

 

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Two members of the Board of Education, who will be leaving the panel in the aftermath of last week's municipal election, got high marks for civic commitment and volunteerism from fellow board members and school officials at their final meeting Monday night.

Jennifer Tooker was elected to a seat on the Board of Finance and Michael McGovern lost his bid for re-election. Both are Republicans.

"I'm sorry to see both of you go," said Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon. "No superintendent can survive without great Boards of Education."

Tooker, who has lived in Westport since 2008, was also vice chairwoman of the Conservation Commission before serving on the school board. She has three children and spent 22 years working at Gen Re, a global reinsurance company, in management and marketing.

McGovern, who works in the investment banking industry and is the father of four , served on the board from 2005 to 2007 before joining it again in 2009. He has lived in Westport 17 years and was the board's vice chairman this past year.

"Mike, throughout your tenure you have always focused on the needs of the children we serve," said Elaine Whitney, the board chairwoman who won re-election last week.

"I have truly enjoyed working closely with you over the last two years," she said to Tooker, "and I really appreciate your service and your many contributions."

Among the contributions noted, several board members -- including McGovern -- cited Tooker as a mentor, offering guidance to fellow members.

"Jen, thank you for ensuring that the bar is high," said member Michael Gordon, "both for the integrity of this board and for all of Westport's kids."

McGovern was praised for his involvement in several initiatives, including requiring two years of foreign languages for graduation from Staples High School, as well as the implementation of a financial literacy course.

"It's been a lot of fun," McGovern said. "When I started on the campaign trail I said, and I believed then, I believe now, that I was okay losing because of the quality of the four people that I was running with."

Tooker said that, while board members are not paid for their service, she feels she has been rewarded.

"I feel very well paid in knowledge and friendship," she said.