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.
- Carol A. Blanks - Chairperson
- Deb Polun - Vice-Chairperson and Financial Examiner
- Mark Zydanowicz - Financial Examiner
- Lorna Thomas-Farquharson - Secretary
- Amanda Aronson
- Rob Levine
- Dave Pauluk
Carol A. Blanks has resided in West Hartford since 1996; she lives with her husband Charles, and three daughters, Channen, a Conard graduate, and Cynthia and Kaye, currently juniors at Conard. She is a past PTO member and parent volunteer at Charter Oak International Academy, at Florence E. Smith STEM School of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, and at Sedgwick Middle School; and is a present PTO member at Conard High School. She has served as a member of the West Hartford Democratic Town Committee, a Commissioner for the State of Connecticut Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission, a former coach for WHGBL minor division and junior division, a former tutor for the ConnectiKids Tutorial Program, and is a member of St. Monica’s Episcopal Church.
Ms. Blanks earned her MPA at the University of Hartford, her BS at Mount St. Mary’s College, Los Angeles, California, as well as her AA in Respiratory Therapy (St. Mary’s). Ms. Blanks is employed by the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health as a Program Director for the Connecticut Early Detection and Prevention Program, a cancer screening program that provides screening, diagnostic testing, and treatment services for income eligible women who are un-insured and under-insured. She has been a member of 1199/SEIU for over twenty years and a former union delegate.
Carol A. Blanks
Deb Polun and her husband Ian have lived in West Hartford since 1999. They have two children - Megan, a junior at Hall High School, and Jordan who graduated from Hall High School and is now a sophomore at the University of Albany. Deb serves on the West Hartford Advisory Commission for Persons with Disabilities, and she is a member of the League of Women Voters of Greater Hartford and the Jewish Community Relations Council.
Deb is the Senior Director for Policy & Outreach at the Community Health Center Association of Connecticut. In that role, she advocates for public policies that help low-income people have access to high-quality health care. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut (M.A., 1997) and Tulane University (B.S., 1994).
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.
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.
Rob Levine has lived in West Hartford since 2001. He is a small business owner of Hart Real Estate and Hart Property Management Services, with an office in West Hartford Center. His wife, Gayle, has been a teacher at Hall High School for 17 years. He has three school age children, Jack, Cam, and Katie.
He is the incoming president-elect for 2018 on the board of directors for the Greater Hartford Association of Realtors. He also served on the West Hartford Board of Assessment Appeals for 2017.
His background in government goes back many years to his first job after Graduate School as a policy analyst on the Speaker’s task force on education in New York State. After a time, he became a budget analyst on the ways and means committee. Rob also had consulting jobs doing program evaluation and financial audits for public housing authorities and child support enforcement agencies around the country.
Rob’s educational background includes an undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts and a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University.
Dave Pauluk has been a resident of West Hartford since 2000. He is an Army veteran who also spent 5 years teaching English in Japan. He is a Senior Compliance Specialist with Cigna and has worked in the insurance/financial services field for over 20 years. A firm believer in continuing education, Dave has earned a number of prestigious industry designations, and has been named a Fellow of the Financial Services Institute. He holds a BA in Political Science from California State University, Los Angeles (1989) and a Master’s in Financial Services from The American College (2011).
Mr. Pauluk’s wife Becky teaches at Duffy School, and their children attend Conard and Bristow. The Pauluk family has been fortunate to serve as host family to an AFS foreign exchange student who also attends Conard.
Before being elected to the Board of Education, Mr. Pauluk served as Co-President and President of the Webster Hill PTO. He also served as Treasurer of the Webster Hill PTO and the Charter Oak PTA. He has been a representative to the West Hartford Scholarship Fund and volunteers with the Tools for Schools program, an EPA initiative to promote a healthy learning environment at schools to reduce absenteeism, improve test scores and enhance student and staff productivity.
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