Rochester school board chooses officers for new year

Talbert named president, Nowak to serve as vice president

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published January 16, 2013

ROCHESTER — The Rochester Community Schools Board of Education recently nominated and elected its officers for 2013.

On Jan. 7, Beth Talbert — vice president of the board for the past year — was unanimously elected to serve as board president this year, replacing outgoing President Jennifer Berwick.

Talbert, a resident of Rochester Hills for more than 20 years, is beginning her sixth year on the board. She is an instructor at Oakland University. She was the RCS school board vice president in 2012, president in 2010, treasurer in 2009 and secretary in 2008.

“I feel privileged to serve as president,” Talbert said. “We have a collaborative and a strong Board of Education, and I’m looking forward to helping the board in the selection of a new superintendent and the transition to some new leadership, and I’m grateful that the board has confidence that I can help them achieve that.”

Talbert said 2012 was a year the board was “really happy” to close the books on in Rochester. She credits Berwick for helping the district navigate a “very turbulent year” with “professionalism and grace.”

“When Mrs. Berwick became president, I’m not certain that she could have known we would have all of our employee contracts up for negotiation, that we would privatize two key services in our district, that we would need to replace a board member, and that we would need to replace a superintendent and hire an interim superintendent. Any one of those things gives a board president a headache, and all of those things combined in one year means that the stars were not aligned — thankfully, they are all lined up again,” Talbert said. “It was remarkable leadership in a time of testing that I really hope we don’t have a year like again.”

Interim Superintendent Tresa Zumsteg, who’s worked with several board presidents in her 34-year career in education, said she really admires Berwick — who she described as being thoughtful and reflective, and having integrity. During the meeting, she addressed Berwick to thank her for her year as president.

“You are such a powerful, strong leader, and I just appreciate so much what you have done in these four months and the conversations we’ve had  — we’ve met and talked every week about different things that have gone on,” she said. “And it’s a very good board, but you take your cues from your president, and you have done just an outstanding job in a very difficult time.”

Zumsteg said she also knows that Talbert will be a great leader for the board.

The board — which elects members for various leadership positions each January — also elected Lisa Nowak as its vice president, Pat Piskulich as secretary and Lisa Berwick as treasurer. Board members volunteer their time and are not paid.

RCS board meetings are held at 7 p.m. on Mondays in the Harrison Room of the district’s Administration Center, 501 W. University Drive. Board “chats” are held prior to regularly scheduled meetings at 6:30 p.m.

Meetings are videotaped for broadcast on the district’s community access cable TV channel. The videos can also be seen online by visiting the district’s website.

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