A city councilor who headed the Gloucester School Committee for two years has been tapped by Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken to take over as the city’s representative on the Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School board.
Val Gilman, who served on the city School Committee for six years and as its chairwoman in 2012-2013, gained the recommendation of the mayor and approval from the city’s School Committee to succeed Melissa Teixeira Prince as Gloucester’s voice on the regional board that oversees the 18-community vo-tech school district based in Danvers.
Teixeira Prince has served as the regional school committee’s chairwoman for the past three years and helped lead the technical school district through the opening of its $133 million new school in 2014. She announced in August she would be stepping down after nine years on the 20-member board. Her departure — and Gilman’s appointment to the board — will both take effect in January.
Gilman, 61, will retain her post as Ward 4’s city councilor. She said she’s looking forward to a smooth transition working with Teixeira Prince in the coming weeks, and the chance to continue to push for new opportunities for students from Gloucester and elsewhere at the technical school.
“I think it’s important that we be represented by a person who understands the needs of the community in terms of vocational and technical backgrounds, somebody who has a background on a school committee — and I think I fit that bill,” said Gilman, who also boasts nearly 30 years experience as a human resources professional and consultant. “Melissa has done a great job, and hers will be tough shoes to fill, but I think I’ll be ready to hit the ground running.”
Teixeira Prince, who will continue to serve on the Gloucester School Committee, said she believes the second-term city councilor will be a good fit on the regional school board.
“I think it’s an excellent choice,” said Teixeira Prince, who had served with Gilman during her stint on the city School Committee. “I think she has the experience and knowledge from the (city) School Committee, and her City Council perspective will be a benefit for city of Gloucester.
“She knows school budgets. She knows how it affects the city as a whole,” Teixeira Prince added. “But at the same time she also knows what it takes to support our kids and provide them with the opportunities they deserve. She’s been a supporter since Day One for keeping the (regional technical) programs open, and to keep our own Gloucester High (vocational) programs. She’s always been a strong proponent of vocational education.”
Gilman will step onto the board as the regional school district moves ahead with a new superintendent — Heidi Riccio — and an innovative pilot program announced in September that will enable up to 20 Gloucester High juniors the chance to take trade-related courses at Essex Tech in addition to their own classes at Gloucester High. The project is aimed at helping to provide access to more students at a school that had 1,200 applicants for 375 slots this past spring.
“I know there are a lot of exciting things happening,” Gilman said, “and I’m looking forward to this. I’m excited. too.”