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Board of Education

Having extensive public engagement and being accountable to parents and the community are central aspects of our Portfolio District approach. The Board of Education includes four (4) elected and five (5) appointed individuals; together, they are responsible for top-level, district-wide decisions that affect the direction and progress of our schools.
 
Board of Education meetings that are open to the public are posted on our Meeting Dates & Agendas page.
 

Five Core Beliefs      

 
We believe all students can learn at or above grade level.
 
We believe that the achievement gap must and can be eliminated, by all students reaching their learning potential.
 
We believe schools have an enormous impact on students’ lives.
 
We believe that all parents must be empowered to play an active role in their students’ education.
 
We believe that community collaboration is fundamental to achieving and sustaining excellence.
 

Our Board of Education members include:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Richard F. Wareing, Chairman

 
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Richard F. Wareing was elected Chairman of the Board of Education by his colleagues on February 24, 2014. As Chairman, he is committed to improving the educational experience for all learners through increased parent and community engagement, improved culture and climate, reducing chronic absenteeism, providing better service to English language learners and children with special needs, and improving teaching and learning in all of Hartford’s schools.

He has lived and practiced law in Hartford since March, 1994. Presently with the firm of Natale & Wolinetz, he practices in the area of construction law and litigation and also in general commercial litigation, municipal law, and appellate litigation. He graduated with an AB in history, magna cum laude, from the College of the Holy Cross in 1990 and a JD, cum laude, from the Harvard Law School in 1993. Prior to joining the Board of Education in 2012, he was active on numerous boards and commissions, including the Metropolitan District Commission, two charter revision commissions, the Hartford Economic Development Commission and the Hartford Redevelopment Agency. He and his wife Rebecca live Downtown.
 
 

José Colón-Rivas, Ph.D.

 
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Dr. José Colón-Rivas, Director of the Department of Families, Children, Youth and Recreation since July 2011, oversees and directs efforts to coordinate and implement early childhood, youth and recreation planning and policy.  Previously , José served as the Executive Director of the Office for Young Children when he joined the City of Hartford, overseeing  operations of the Office and to implement Hartford’s Early Childhood Blueprint.   
José is an innovative, accomplished professional educator who has spent over twenty four years dedicated to his mission of making a profound and positive difference in children’s lives.  Born and raised in Puerto Rico, José came to Hartford in 1989 to further his work as a teacher.  He began his career with Hartford Public Schools as a Math Teacher, and later served as High School Principal, and Senior Director of Early Childhood Education and Accreditation.   As a high school principal, José was able to secure national reaccreditation to a school that was destined for termination.  
He holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Puerto Rico in Elementary and Secondary Education/Mathematics, a Master’s degree from The Interamerican University in Supervision and Administration/ Curriculum Development and a Ph.D. from Penn State University in Individual and Family Studies/ Educational Psychology/Early Childhood Education. 
Throughout his academic and professional career, he has empowered thousands of children to create a more powerful and purposeful future for themselves, while motivating their desire to learn and become resourceful citizens.  His love and faithfulness to the Hartford community is demonstrated in his dynamic and unique style as a communicator with proven ability to work effectively with individuals of all ages and diverse cultural, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.  His administrative leadership over time is proven in his ability to serve complex and diverse environments.
Although he has ventured throughout the United States and the world, his loyalty to the cultural beauty and wonders of Puerto Rico remain, which he humbly refers to as home.
 
 

Beth A. Taylor, PhD

 
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Beth A. Taylor, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Health Sciences and the Director of the Center for Health, Care and Well-Being in the Institute for Translational Research at University of Hartford.  She is also the Director of Exercise Physiology Research in the Department of Cardiology at Hartford Hospital.  Dr. Taylor received her BS in Nutritional Sciences from Cornell University and her PhD in Kinesiology from The Pennsylvania State University.  Her research areas include vascular function, aging and cardiovascular risk, focusing specifically on the interactions between pharmacological treatment, exercise and disease.  Dr. Taylor is also involved in advancing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education and initiatives to promote women in science, serving as an Associate Director of the CT Space Grant Consortium and a member of the Women in Science committee at the Connecticut Science Center.  Dr. Taylor lives in the West End of Hartford with her two children, who attend Hartford Public Schools, and also writes a blog (http://www.uheart.wordpress.com) dedicated to health education and research.
 
 

Craig Stallings, Secretary

 
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Mr. Stallings has been a PTO president at two Hartford schools and was coordinator of the original governance council at Thirman Milner School. He has three children in the Hartford Public Schools. He has been co-owner and marketing manager for the Stallings Tax Service since 2006, as well as having worked out of the home as a customer service representative for Tele Tech, contracted to work for Bank of America. A graduate of Weaver High School, he has attended Capital and Manchester Community Colleges and the University of Hartford.
 
 

Rev. Dr. Shelley D. Best 

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Rev. Best is an inspirational speaker, artist and humanitarian who has inspired and empowered the lives of thousands of faith and neighborhood based leaders during her 20+ years of service. As the President & CEO of The Conference of Churches, her most recent visionary endeavor, is “The 224” a vibrant, 30,000- square-foot, community development conference center, designed to provide: integrative health services; retreats; business incubation; and contemplative coaching. These services have been designed with a heart for leaders and spiritual seekers in an inspiring space featuring the work of local artists.
 
Dr. Best is an advocate, coach and change agent. Her education includes a Master of Arts degree in Religious Leadership from Hartford Seminary, a Master of Divinity degree from Yale University, and a Doctorate in Ministry from Hartford Seminary. She serves as executive minister of Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church where the Senior Pastor is Rev. Terry L. Jones, Sr.
Dr. Best travels internationally for enrichment, consulting and speaking engagements. Her expertise in leadership development; health equity, spirituality, and interfaith understanding, is sought after by government, university, non-profit and progressive leaders. With a new found passion for yoga, she devotes her practice to the mission of personal and community transformation.
 
 

Michael Brescia

 
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As a longtime teacher at Bulkeley High School and a resource teacher at the Hartford Adult Education, Mr. Brescia is a former member of the Hartford Federation of Teachers, with an M.Ed. from the University of Hartford and a B.S. from Central CT State College.
 
 
 

Robert Cotto, Jr.

 
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Robert Cotto, Jr. is currently the Director of Urban Educational Initiatives at Trinity College and a Lecturer in the Educational Studies department. Before his work at Trinity, he was a Senior Policy Fellow in K-12 Education for CT Voices for Children where he published reports on Connecticut’s testing system, public school choice, and K-12 education data and policy. He taught for seven years as a social studies teacher at the Metropolitan Learning Center for Global and International Studies (MLC), an interdistrict magnet school intended to provide a high-quality education and promote racial, ethnic, and economic integration. Born and raised in Connecticut, Mr. Cotto was the first in his family to go to college and he earned his B.A. degree in sociology at Dartmouth College and his Ed.M. at Harvard University Graduate School of Education. He is serving his second term on the Hartford Board of Education and in the past has served as Secretary and Policy Committee Chair. Since returning back home to CT from college, Robert has lived in the Frog Hollow neighborhood and he recently moved to the Forster Heights area of the Southwest neighborhood.
 
 

Matthew K. Poland

 
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Matt Poland joined the Hartford Public Library in June 2008 as Deputy Administrator and was named Interim Director in December 2008. Poland was appointed the Library’s ninth leader since 1893 and its first chief executive officer in October 2009. Prior to joining the Library, Poland was senior vice president and general manager for Work/Life Innovations, an award-winning employee assistance and work/life programming organization. Prior to joining Work/Life Innovations, he was senior vice president for human resources at Community Newspaper Company and Veritude, both Fidelity Investments Companies in Boston. Before Boston, Matt worked at The Hartford Courant where he held the positions of vice president for human resources and community affairs, vice president for operations, production director, and director of employee relations. He began his career in retail banking and human resources in the financial services sector in Hartford. Poland received his bachelor’s degree with honors in philosophy and literature from St. John’s College Seminary (Boston, MA). He also has completed executive leadership and management programs at Harvard University, Babson College, University of Southern California, and the Times Mirror Executive Leadership Institute. Poland currently serves as a board member at TheaterWorks and Hartford Performs. He was recently elected to the executive board of the Urban Libraries Council. He is a commissioner of the Mayor’s Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission and a member of the Community Steering Committee of Opportunities Hartford. Poland is also a member of the American Library Association, the Connecticut Library Association, Leadership Greater Hartford, the Society for Human Resources Management, and the Human Resources Association of Central Connecticut. He is a LeadBoston Fellow and a Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum. He has served as a board member at Camp Courant, Riverfront Recapture, Greater Hartford Arts Council, the National Conference for Community and Justice (Hartford affiliate), Capital Workforce Development Board, The Hartford Courant Foundation, and he served as the chair of the Allocations Sub-Committee for the United Way of Massachusetts Bay. He also was an instructor on ethical decision-making at the Times Mirror Management Institute.Poland is a native and resident of Hartford CT.
 
 

Pedro E. Segarra, Mayor of Hartford

 
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Pedro E. Segarra was sworn in as Hartford 66th Mayor after he was overwhelmingly selected by Hartford voters on January 3, 2012. However, his commitment to realizing the promise of Connecticut’s Capital City began long before that day. Mayor Segarra’s personal experience with poverty, discrimination and overcoming adversity has shaped his vision for Hartford – to bring people of all ethnicities, faiths and socioeconomic backgrounds together to create meaningful change. As Hartford and the nation emerge from financially challenging times, Mayor Segarra is working with corporate, community and philanthropic partners to develop innovative solutions. With community activism, social work, law and public service in his background, he is keenly aware of the issues facing the City with regard to education, public safety and the need for sustainable jobs. His mission over the next four years is to aggressively build on the City’s education reform foundation; to implement strategies that strengthen community-police relationships and reduce crime; and through the Livable and Sustainable Neighborhoods Initiative and other programs, to improve the vitality of our neighborhoods and increase job opportunities.Born the oldest of six children in Maricao, Puerto Rico on April 28, 1959, Mayor Segarra moved to Hartford from New York as a teenager. While his arrival in the City did not result in an immediate escape from the extreme poverty his family faced, it did fuel his determination to succeed and not be defined by his circumstances. After graduating from the former Hartford Community College (now Capital Community College), Mayor Segarra earned a full scholarship to the University of Hartford where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. He went on to attend the University of Connecticut Schools of Social Work and Law, where he was a founding member of the Latino Law School Organization and served as its first President. He is currently admitted to the Connecticut state and federal bars (1986) and the Bar of the State of Florida (2000).In addition, Mayor Segarra was the youngest person to serve as Corporation Counsel for the City of Hartford when he was appointed in 1991. His public service includes his appointment as a member of the Court of Common Council in 2006 and re-election in his own right to that seat the following year. He became Council President in January 2010 and was sworn in as Mayor in June of that year.Among his community involvement efforts are as a founding partner of Hogar Crea, The Hispanic Health Council and CLARO. Mayor Segarra lives in the West End of Hartford with his partner, Charlie who has been an advocate of beautification efforts in the City.
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