Two veteran school board members and a newcomer who were elected to serve on the Lawrence Township Public Schools Board of Education were sworn in to office at the school board’s annual reorganization meeting.
Incumbent school board members Jo Ann Groeger and Kevin Van Hise, along with newcomer Robert Pluta, were given the oath of office by Thomas Eldridge, the school board secretary/business administrator.
Once the trio was sworn into office for their three-year terms during the Jan. 5 meeting, the board chose its officers for 2022.
Patricia Hendricks Farmer and Kevin Van Hise were elected unanimously to serve as the school board president and vice president, respectively. Van Hise had served as the school board president for several years.
In her remarks, Hendricks said she was making history as the first Black and Latina to serve as school board president. She said her parents emphasized education and made it the center of life for their seven children.
Farmer graduated from Lawrence High School in 1986, and earned a bachelor’s degree from Temple University.
Several attendees congratulated Farmer, including former school board members Barbara Mooring, Robin Bridges Johnson and Joyce Scott.
Mooring said she knows about the dedication and commitment required to serve on the school board, and there could not be a finer school board representative than Hendricks.
Johnson said she was honored to witness Farmer being elected to serve as the school board president. She said she is proud of the contributions that Farmer’s family had made over the past 50-plus years in Lawrence Township.
Scott, whose term expired in 2021 and who did not seek re-election, said she hoped it would be “a good year for us.”
“I wish you well this year,” Scott said.
Farmer’s colleagues on the school board wasted no time in congratulating Farmer, as she assumed the role of school board president.
School board member Michele Bowes said she was “super excited” to have Farmer serve as the school board president. She also thanked Van Hise for his years of service as the school board president.
School board member Gregory Johnson said it has been a pleasure to work serve with Farmer for the past year. Farmer was elected to the school board in November 2020.
“This past year, we have had many challenges. I am looking forward to working with you and Kevin and the school board to make this the best public school district in New Jersey,” Johnson said.