This month’s Meet a Mom is Jen Schlactus! Many of you know her as a Blind Brook Board of Education member. I know her as a wife, mother and wonderful friend. Oh and a recipient of those yummy veggies! Read on!
Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in town
I grew up on Long Island in Dix Hills, graduated from UCONN Storrs with a degree in business, and I have lived here in Rye Brook with my husband and two children since April 2001.
Child(ren) and Age(s)?
Joshua, 19, sophomore at UCONN
Abby, 17, senior at BBHS, will go to U of MD in the fall of 2020
One thing people would be surprised to know about you…
I am an avid gardener. I grow flowers and veggies in my garden. I like to give veggies out to the neighbors when I have extra. In trying to stay socially distant this spring, Peter and I have started gardening early and we are hoping to have a great harvest this fall!
Anyone special you’d like to thank for helping you through parenthood?
Other Rye Brook moms. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve needed to rely on local friends to carpool or give one of my kids a ride. There’s nothing better than living in a community where you know everyone’s kids and they know yours.
Favorite things to do with your kids?
Family game or movie night, anything Harry Potter, Starbucks with my daughter or an afternoon of football on the couch with my son. In such a social media driven world, I love the times when they unplug and open up. As many of the other college kids came home recently, my son is home with us again now, and I’m trying to look at this strange time of the pandemic as a little bit of a blessing for families who get to have some bonus time together.
Are you involved in a business venture, a local organization, a creative endeavor, or in the corporate world? Please share!
I happily serve on the Blind Brook Board of Education. It’s my third year on the BOE, and I ran after a 12-year volunteer career with the Blind Brook PTA, including stints as Treasurer and President. I ran to make sure the district was focused on our kids’ needs first and to promote transparency and community consultation. In my past three years on the board, I feel we have made good progress toward these goals. In doing so, we have accomplished quite a bit….appointing an assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, negotiating successful contracts with the teachers’ and administrators’ unions, implementing a new schedule at the MS/HS to promote deeper learning and alleviate student stress, passing funding for and beginning the capital construction project at both campuses, and preserving class size and programming while keeping tax increases under the state tax cap, in spite of a few unexpected and sizeable tax cert issues. And we are about to announce that we are hiring a new superintendent.
I’m running for re-election because I want to be able to continue and build upon the work we have done. I’d like to bring the community together with our new superintendent to develop a strategic plan and vision for our district. I’d like to do more to address student stress and encourage our kids to make good, safe decisions. I’d like to see the construction projects through and help with our new superintendent’s transition to the community. And I’d like to make sure that our board and district continues to focus on diligent and transparent communication.
How has this community been instrumental in getting you to where you are now?
Well, they believed in me and came out to vote for me overwhelmingly in 2017. And while many say that “it must be a thankless job”, I have actually found that people thank me all the time for serving. Of course, it can be frustrating to work by building consensus among board members, and you have to try not to micromanage. There are things that you can’t publicly share, so that can be challenging too. But it’s important work, and I really enjoy doing it. I feel we are moving things forward. And, while we don’t all agree all the time, we work well together, and everyone has the best interests of the kids and the community at heart. In addition, the community has been instrumental in sustaining my coffee habit by joining me at Starbucks at my periodic meet-ups. I can’t wait to get back to them! 😀