MERIDEN — Rebecca Wronski, a longtime city schools educator, has stepped down from the Board of Education after two years on the board.
City resident and fellow Republican Tony Martorelli, who ran for the board in 2019, received his party’s nomination to fill the vacancy. The City Council is scheduled to vote on Martorelli’s appointment on Monday, according to a meeting agenda. Martorelli would serve out the two years remaining on Wronski’s four-year term.
Wronski, a lifelong city resident, had recently retired from teaching when she ran for the board in 2019. Her 30 years as a teacher included 24 years of teaching in city schools: Israel Putnam Elementary School and Lincoln and Washington middle schools. Wronski taught special education, math, science and English. Wronski’s three sons are all graduates of Maloney High School.
In an Oct. 5 letter addressed to board president Robert Kosienski Jr., Wronski said it “is with a heavy heart” that she decided to resign her seat. Wronski informed Kosienski she was resigning for medical reasons.
Recent complications related to multiple sclerosis “made it difficult to carry out my duties to the degree that I feel I should,” Wronski wrote. “... My priority has been on the students of Meriden and making sure that they are in a safe learning environment. I do not want my limitations to prevent me from doing what is best for our students.”
Wronski said she had known from the time that she was a high school student that she wanted to be an educator — in special education. At the time she had worked for a program that assists adults with disabilities.
She chose to run for the Board of Education two years after leaving the teaching profession.
“Although I was no longer working with students in the classroom I still wanted to have a positive impact,” Wronski said.
Kosienski said he’s had the honor of knowing Wronski for most of his adult life. He described her as active in her children’s education and the community as well.
Kosienski said although Wronski is a registered Republican, she has been non-political in her role on the board.
“Rebecca, she is non-political. She might be a registered R, but definitely always kids first,” Kosienski said. “Politics plays no place in education, whether on the board agenda or what she did in the classroom for all of those years. It was always about holding kids accountable for their academics and holding them accountable for their behaviors.”
Kosienski said Wronski brought a wealth of knowledge to the board, including curriculum, special education, policy and practices.
Although Wronski is departing her role as a board member, colleagues like Kosienski expect she will continue to remain active with the school district, including continuing to work with the Maloney Music Boosters.
“We’re praying for her good health and happiness and well-being,” Kosienski said. “We know she is going to persevere and will be an incredible volunteer in the Meriden Public Schools and mentor to our students.”
Meriden Federation of Teachers President Lauren Mancini-Averitt described Wronski as a “very active person who has promoted the Meriden Public Schools.” Mancini-Averitt said she’s gotten to know Wronski not only in her capacity as a board member, but as a parent and fellow educator. .
“On behalf of the MFT, I absolutely wish her the best, most positive health outcomes. We did enjoy having her on the board,” Mancini-Averitt said. Students first
School Superintendent Mark Benigni referenced Wronski’s experience as an educator in his remarks to the Record-Journal.
“She asked the right questions and always put students first. We will miss her strong advocacy for students and staff and wish her all the best. I know she will continue to support the Meriden Public Schools,” Benigni said.
Board colleague Ray Ouellet described Wronski’s departure as “a major loss” for the board.
“She has such a great passion for the education piece of it,” Ouellet said.
Ouellet had similar praise for Wronski’s successor, who he described as a positive addition to the board. He said Martorelli has already reached out to him with questions to prepare for his upcoming role.
“Tony is a good person… very positive thinking,” Ouellet said.
Kosienski said he believes Martorelli will be “as committed and dedicated” on the board as Wronski had been.
Martorelli is a chef by training and parent who has been actively involved as a volunteer with his children’s schools. Martorelli brings both the perspectives of being a parent of Meriden Public Schools students and that of being a spouse to a current city educator to the board.
Asked to describe his priorities as a board member, Martorelli listed providing a safe learning environment as chief among them. “A safe building and safe physical environment,” he said, adding, “holding kids accountable for their learning” as another priority.
Martorelli joins the board at a time when school officials are striving to maintain full in-person learning for students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Martorelli’s view, the district has weathered the pandemic-induced challenges admirably. It started with an immediate switch to remote learning in March 2020, followed by resuming in-person learning in September that year, with several COVID-19 mitigation measures in place.