West Hartford has an elected seven-member Board of Education which is required by State Statute and Town Charter to oversee public education.
The Board's major duties are: to set policies concerning educational, organizational, and financial matters; to monitor and evaluate the administration of its policies; and to recommend annual operating and capital budgets to the Town Council.
- Ms. Deb Polun - Chairperson
- Dr. Lorna Thomas-Farquharson - Vice-Chair
- Ms. Amanda Aronson - Secretary
- Dr. Ari Steinberg
- Ms. Elizabeth Wilcox
- Mark Zydanowicz
- Dr. Jason Oliver Chang
Deb Polun and her husband Ian have lived in West Hartford since 1999. They have two children - Jordan, a senior at Central CT State University, and Megan, a freshman at Bryant University. Both of their children attended Aiken Elementary, King Philip Middle School, and Hall High School.
Deb is the executive director of the CT Association for Community Action (CAFCA). In that role, she works with CT’s 9 community action agencies to eradicate the causes and conditions of poverty and help limited income people move towards economic self-sufficiency. Deb is a longtime member of the League of Women Voters of Greater Hartford and the Jewish Community Relations Council. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut (M.A., 1997) and Tulane University (B.S., 1994).
Lorna Thomas-Farquharson has lived in West Hartford since 2000. She is married to Jerome, and they have two daughters, Julianna & Gabrielle, both of whom are students at Charter Oak International Academy. Lorna has been a parent volunteer at Charter Oak for many years. She is a PTO member serving as past Cultural Council Parent Representative and current Room Parent Coordinator. Lorna is a West Hartford Parent Leadership Training Institute (PLTI) alumni. She is a member of the Steward Board and parent advisor for the Youth Department at Bethel AME Church.
Lorna is a mental health professional and Community Outreach Educator speaking on various topics such as effective communication, self-esteem, workplace etiquette, vicarious trauma and crisis management. Lorna received a B.A. in Psychology from Spelman College, and M.A. and PsyD degrees in Clinical Psychology from the University of Hartford. Professionally, Lorna strives to educate and empower individuals to address challenges and improve the quality of their lives. She is passionate about community outreach and demystifying the stigma associated with mental health concerns. Personally, she strives to promote the development of well-rounded youth, where excellence is defined by thriving academically, socially, and emotionally and where the values of learning extend beyond the walls of a classroom.
Amanda lives in West Hartford with her husband, Scott, and their two children, Nathaniel and Maia. The Aronsons are current members of the Hall High and King Philip Middle School communities and are past Bugbee School parents. Amanda is principal of Aronson Consulting, which supports nonprofit and educational communities with specialized research and needs assessment, strategic planning, marketing, development, and interim staff support. She is most often called upon to launch an effort, or to take an existing effort and grow it with attention to proper structure and sustainability.
Amanda earned her M.Ed from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA and was certified at the Professional Level to teach middle school social studies. She earned her BA from Elon University in Elon, NC, where she majored in International Relations and double minored in Spanish and Human Services. She has been a classroom teacher in the areas of English, social studies, and health, mostly at the middle school level, and has experience with educational administration and curriculum development. Through her consulting work, she has been involved with strategic planning, minority teacher recruitment, and facility planning and management.
An active community member, Amanda has served on local nonprofit boards, and is currently a Board Ambassador for the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving (HFPG). She is on the Steering Committees for the HFPG’s Catalyst Endowment Fund, as well as the Governor’s Council on Women & Girls’ subcommittee on Economic Opportunity & Workforce Equity. She is a trained Docent at the New Britain Museum of American Art, where she provides tours for students ages 3-23. Additionally, she is a longtime volunteer with the Bridge Family Center, the organization which serves as the Youth Service Bureau for the town of West Hartford and operates both their Teen Center and Family Resource Center. Amanda joined the leadership team at the Bridge in 2016 and worked with the organization until early 2019, which gave her a valuable perspective from which to view both the needs of families in West Hartford, and the ways in which their needs are addressed by the school system and the community at large.
Ari Steinberg is a Clinical Psychologist and works at the Institute of Living as the Clinical Supervisor of the Child and Adolescent Ambulatory Division. She oversees and manages all of the clinical aspects of the outpatient services including providing direct supervision of clinical staff, developing the clinical programming for outpatient departments, and assisting in the referral process for the programs. Previously, she worked at Grace S. Webb School, a therapeutic day school, at the Institute of Living providing direct clinical care and administering psychological assessments for students. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at The University of South Florida and completed her internship and postdoctoral training at The Institute of Living.
Ari is currently serving her first term on the Board of Education. Given her strong background in clinical psychology, Ari brings to the board a strong understanding of the mental health needs of school-aged children and how they can be supported by educational policy. More specifically, her education and training can help to provide different insights, especially with respect to the emotional, behavioral, and psychological needs of our students and families.
Ari and her husband, Howard, have an eighteen-year-old daughter, Riley, and a fifteen-year old son, Alexander. They have been members of the Aiken, Bristow, and King Philip communities. Currently, they are part of the parent community at Hall High School.
Dr. Ari Steinberg
Liz has resided in West Hartford with her husband, Bill, since 1996. They have three children: Matt, a senior in college; Abby, a sophomore in college; and Cate, a senior in high school. All of their children have attended West Hartford schools. Collectively they have attended Bugbee Elementary School, Bristow Middle School, St. Timothy Middle School, Hall High School, and Northwest Catholic High School.
Liz earned a JD, cum laude, from Western New England University School of Law. She earned a BA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in English and Psychology. She is admitted to the CT Bar and has worked in legal roles as well as in the insurance industry and financial service industries, focusing on insurance and compliance.
Liz currently serves on the town Conservation and Environment Commission. In the past she has been an active member for the Bugbee, Bristow, St. Tim’s, Hall, and PTC Boards. Having served in many capacities at each of these schools, Liz is well-versed in school curriculum as well as planning and policies. She is also a longstanding volunteer with The Bridge Family Center, serving on the Children’s Charity Ball Committee. Her work with The Bridge has exposed her to the many valuable programs offered to the youth of West Hartford including the Family Resource Center. Liz is also a West Hartford Parent Leadership Training Institute (PLTI) alumni.
Ms. Elizabeth Wilcox
Mark Zydanowicz lives with his wife and three children in West Hartford. All three children currently attend West Hartford elementary school. Mark and his wife Nella have lived in West Hartford since 1998. Mr. Zydanowicz has served as a commissioner on the West Hartford’s Zoning Board of Appeals and has also coached in the Minor Division of the West Harford Girls Basket Ball League.
Professionally, Mark was an owner and third generation family member of Guida’s Dairy, employing 260; it was one of the largest independent dairies in New England which was founded by his grandfather in 1947. However, recently the family sold the business, though Mark continues to work in a management role with the new ownership. Zydanowicz business experience provides him with the acumen vital to understanding the importance of solid leadership and accountability to staff and clients; characteristics he considers critical in any role.
Mark also served as a financial underwriter for United Health Care where he was responsible for achievement of operating income, membership, SG&A expense and medical care ratio objectives for new business for the Mid-Atlantic and Florida Health plans.
Joining in 1991 as a private, Zydanowicz has over 20 years in the Connecticut Army National Guard. Currently he serves as the Battalion S3, a primary staff officer in a Multi-Functional Engineer Battalion whose major responsibilities are training, schooling and operational planning for 7 separate units comprising of over 500 soldiers. Major Zydanowicz constantly seeks to help others. He has completed a number of humanitarian missions: helping build schools, hospitals and roads in the Dominican Republic and providing engineering support for projects on the U.S.-Mexico border. Following a tour of duty in Iraq, he was awarded the Bronze Star and Combat Action Badge in 2007. He headed the Baghdad Joint Planning Commission, overseeing reconstruction projects in the city and coordinating a $2.2-billion annual budget for construction-related work in the city of 5 million inhabitants. Zydanowicz worked with leaders from the local communities as well as the American and Iraqi governments to lay the foundation for restoring essential services to Baghdad and helping the Iraqi people rebuild their country.
Mark received a Bachelors of Science in Marketing from CCSU. He has also attended several post college military schools which branch him as a Military Engineer.
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