There is a tradition to be upheld when you become a member of the Montclair Board of Education. You also recognize you stand on the shoulders of giants who occupied the positions before you. They were the voices for equity and academic excellence.  

During my 25 years in Montclair, as founding principal of Renaissance at Rand Middle School, principal of Mount Hebron Middle School, Montclair High School English department chair and teacher at Mount Hebron, I recall how Walter Lack ushered in the model of magnet schools, guaranteeing integration. 

Then came along Jane Susswein, Debra Jennings and Herman White, who supported equity for all by approving the innovative world literature course at MHS. Because of these board members, all ninth graders would be guaranteed supports and standards that addressed their potential. So many Board of Education members followed who did not favor privilege, but made the best decisions for all the children of Montclair.

Yvonne Bouknight will uphold this long tradition. As a parent of two Black daughters who attended Montclair public Schools, she became an advocate for equity and excellence. I so appreciated how quickly she got involved at Renaissance by serving as co-chair of School Review and working on intersectionality with Bebe Landis to insure the school was delivering on its mission of “excellence and equity,” not only for her own Candace and Camille but all the students at “The REN,” as our students lovingly referred to it. 

Yvonne brings much-needed wisdom and commitment to developing communities of practice.  She is a voice the Board of Education needs. She has 39 years of teaching experience, committee and advocacy work, organizing and promoting equity for students with special needs and for girls. She has deep compassion, energy, strong communication skills and the collective first-hand educational knowledge the BOE will need as they address the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, suppression of the stories and histories of all peoples, and the myriad other issues it confronts. She will not remain silent in the face of injustice but will ensure community connections are essential.

I wholeheartedly endorse Yvonne Bouknight for membership on the Montclair BOE; I hope you do, too.

Bernadette Anand
Founding principal of Renaissance School


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