UNION, NJ — There’s a new voice on the Union Board of Education, although it might be a familiar voice to anyone who’s a regular at the board meetings.
After a month-long search, the Board of Education recently approved longtime educator Nellis Regis-Darby to fill its final open seat, which was left vacant by the resignation of former member Lois Jackson on Wednesday, Jan. 6. Regis-Darby, one of three candidates who applied for the position, was sworn in before the Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 16.
“I think I’m going to be on the Educational Committee, considering my educational background. Anything that’s happening in education, anything we need to make our education system better, I’m for it,” Regis-Darby said, whose three children are all working their way through the Union school district. “We’ve been here a long time, and I just think that sometimes you give back. I always say you have to give back, it’s time to give back. And if you don’t then you’re just going to keep saying it — ‘I’m going to give back, I’m going to give back’ — so when an opportunity presented itself, I thought it was time.”
In the 13 years that her family has lived in Union, Regis-Darby has served as a PTA leader at Livingston Elementary School and Kawameeh Middle School and regularly attends the district’s Board of Education meetings, in addition to working professionally as a coordinator at Jackie Robinson Public School.
In that time, says Regis-Darby, she’s learned that accountability and responsibility are the cornerstones of a successful Board of Education.
“I’m big on accountability. That was my main focus, being accountable to children. I think we have a responsibility, as people in Union, to take care of our children — they are our future here,” Regis-Darby said. “If we’re not responsible for them, who will? I think, for the board, the community has to trust the board members to do the right thing. You have to be honest. You have to be realistic about the things you want to see done and the things you want accomplished.”
Being open, honest and transparent about the Board of Education’s goals is why the candidates’ interviews for the unexpired term, which took place publically on Friday, Feb. 5, were broadcast by Channel 34 and are available on the network’s Vimeo channel, for the first time ever. It was also a central theme in the district’s Board of Education Elections in November, when the ticket of David Arminio, Jeff Monge and Guy Francis — who voted to approve Regis-Darby — championed the need to keep politics out of education.
That’s a goal Regis-Darby can get behind, she says.
“I believe that we should. This is the business of children. People sometimes say there’s politics and stuff involved, but I think when you’re in the business of children, you have to put children in the forefront and do what’s best for them,” Regis-Darby said, adding that she’s also “excited to work” to improve the quality of education for children in Union, along with the rest of the board. “I’ve worked with some of them in the past, going to the meetings and listening to their goals, listening to the vision. So I’m really, really excited to be working with some of them — especially to make sure that we’re doing the right thing.”
Board members Arminio, Monge, Francis, president Vito Nufrio, Nancy Zuena and Ronnie McDowell approved the appointment of Regis-Darby in a vote taken at the Union High School library on Friday, Feb. 5, during a special Board of Education meeting. Angel Salcedo was absent, and Steven Le abstained from
casting a vote.