Cranbury school board representative leaves Princeton BoE

It was a bittersweet moment for Cranbury school board member Emily Spann, who attended her last meeting as its representative to the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education on Oct. 29.

The Cranbury School District sends its high school students to Princeton High School in a sending/receiving relationship. One of its school board members sits on the Princeton school board, and for the past decade it has been Spann.

That is, until Spann was replaced by Cranbury school board member Peter Katz. Cranbury school board president Karen Callahan assigned Katz to be its representative to the Princeton school board at its September reorganization meeting. Katz has two children enrolled at Princeton High School.

Spann’s departure did not go unnoticed at the Princeton school board’s Oct. 29 meeting. Several former Princeton school board members praised Spann, including Fern Spruill, who presented her with a bouquet of flowers, as well as Molly Chrein.

Chrein told Spann that she was “highly valued” by the community, and thanked her for her contributions on the school board.

School board president Beth Behrend also commended Spann.

“Evelyn’s patient wisdom, advocacy for good board process and passion for students and the Princeton public schools’ mission will be missed around our board table,” Behrend said.

Spann was given a resolution approved by the school board. The resolution noted her help in keeping the school board focused on a “clear, shared vision of an excellent public education for all students” and for “being a voice of inclusion and respect for [Princeton’s] school district’s mission.”

In a letter written by former superintendent of schools Judith Wilson, that was read at the school board meeting by Behrend, Wilson wrote that it was a privilege to have worked with Spann.

Superintendent of Schools Steve Cochrane told Spann that she is the only one left from the Princeton school board who hired him six years ago. He said he appreciated her kindness and that she made him feel welcomed.

Cochrane praised Spann for her multiple areas of expertise that ranged from the arts to athletics to chemistry. She is “super smart” and analytical, but most importantly, she is “highly attuned to young people and the pressures they experience, both academic and social,” he said.

“Evelyn understands the art and science of high quality teaching, and that understanding informed every decision she made,” Cochrane said. “You brought a lot to the table in our many discussions as a board.”

Spann replied that she really did not have anything to say that could summarize her work with the Princeton school board.

“It just seems so normal, so natural. It was the right thing at the time,” Spann said of her time spent on the Princeton school board.

Looking back, Spann said the one thing that she “vividly remembers” is the interviews with Cochrane when he was applying for the superintendent’s post.

It bothered Cochrane that the students did not appear to be happy, “and we knew he was the one” who could help to deal with students’ health and wellness, Spann said.

“Thank you for the opportunity to serve on the Princeton school board and to allow me to be a small part [of it],” Spann said.