There is an opening on the Riverside Elementary School District 96 school board. The vice president of the board, Mary Stimming, resigned from the school board on Aug. 25, because she and her family will be moving to the Atlanta area next month.
Stimming’s husband, Louis Centorcelli IV, is a director of business development and market analytics for Reed-Elsevier an information provider to professionals. He will now be working out of the corporate headquarters in Norcross, Ga.
Stimming, who was elected to the school board in 2009, says that it is hard to leave the board, because she respects the members so much.
“It’s sad because we’re at an important junction with some really exciting things on the horizon,” said Stimming, referring to the upcoming capital improvements at school buildings and a search for a new superintendent and a new principal at Central School in the upcoming two years.
“I feel like it’s a terrific group of people who are there and they have a wonderful dynamic among them and there’s a positive momentum and energy,” said Stimming, who spent the Labor Day weekend house hunting in the Atlanta area.
Stimming, who was a part-time professor of theology at Dominican University, has lived in Riverside since 2000. She and her husband have four children.
Stimming was active in Network 96, a group of parents critical of the District 96 school board and administration. In 2009, she ran for the school board on a slate with Jennifer Leimberer and LaFonzo Palmer. Leimberer and Stimming were elected, finishing third and fourth respectively in the seven-candidate field.
This spring Stimming played an important role in installing Mary Ellen Meindl, who ran on a different slate in 2009, as school board president, replacing Nancy Jensen, who had run on the same slate as Meindl in 2009.
Meindl said that she did not know Stimming before they were elected to the school board and although they ran on different slates and were opponents in the 2009 election she has grown to respect her tremendously.
“I have gotten to know Mary Stimming very well over the past two-and-a-half years and have grown to really respect and admire her,” Meindl said. “She’s passionate about what she believes in. She’s not afraid to speak up and she’s the kind of person that if she believes strongly in something she’s willing to go the extra mile to try and make it happen.”
Meindl said that despite often having differing opinions and approaches she and Stimming learned to talk with and understand each other.
“We think very differently on many things and we developed a relationship that we’re both willing and open enough to listen to what each other has to say and I think she has made our board better,” Meindl said.
The school board is now taking applications to fill the vacancy. Meindl hopes the board will appoint a replacement to fill out Stimming’s term that ends in 2013 at its next regular meeting on Sept. 20.
Those interested in being applying for the position should send a letter of interest and a resume to the school board secretary Susan Moorhead at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Board members must be at least 18 years old and residents of District 96 for at least one year. A full list of requirements can be viewed on the District 96 website.
Meindl said she would like the new board member to be someone familiar with district issues, perhaps a former board member.
“We have a lot of things going on,” Meindl said. “The learning curve for a new board member is not going to be real long, and we’ve got a very young board, so ideally it will be someone who can hit the ground running.”
One person who won’t be applying to fill the vacancy is former board member Hareena Wakely.
Wakely ran for reelection to the board in April and was defeated, finishing fourth in a four-person field running for three openings.
Wakely said that with a full-time job and a teenage daughter now playing high level travel softball, she just does not have the time to commit to the school board right now.
“Unfortunately with the schedule I’ve already done and the commitments I’ve already made that’s not something I can put on my schedule,” said Wakely.