Two long-serving members of the Cleveland Hill School Board attended their final meeting last week as they prepare for the next chapters in their lives.
Thomas S. Kulaszewski and Mary E. Metzger served a combined 27 years on the board, and both received praise from administrators and fellow board members.
Despite his desire to continue what he called a “sacred trust to oversee the education of a generation of kids,” Kulaszewski cited recent health issues for stepping down.
Kulaszewski, 61, who served on board for 18 years, is a recent cancer survivor, and in March underwent cardiac bypass for a second time.
“When you’ve looked into the face of your own mortality, the two questions you always ask is, ‘Was I important?’ and, ‘Did I make a difference?’ ” Kulaszewski said. “I thank this entire community for giving me that.”
A 1972 graduate of Cleveland Hill High School, Kulaszewski was introduced to the leadership side of the district 25 years ago with “a three-sentence article” in The Buffalo News reporting that the district sought parents to serve on a then-new program called shared decision-making.
That article led him to a PTA meeting, where he was appointed to the committee on shared decision-making. Within two months, he was coordinator of parent participation.
“And within six months, I was president of the PTA,” Kulaszewski said. “Never in my life could I have imagined how profoundly those three sentences would change my life.”
Along with sitting in on interviews with every current district administrator, Kulaszewski said he was proud that his “fourth child,” the district’s family resource center, was launched during his tenure.
Following his recent bypass surgery, Kulaszewski said, issues with stamina forced him to miss a few meetings. When he learned there were two residents interested in running for the board, he decided that now was a good time to step down.
Kulaszewski said that he wants to spend more time with his grandson but that he still plans to remain involved with the district.
Metzger, 42, moved to Cleveland Hill with her family 25 years ago and joined the board in 2006, serving nine years. Her introduction to the Cleveland Hill school community began when her children started attending school.
She soon joined the Parent-Teacher-Student Association and served as a parent representative on the committee for special education and was also as a parent advocate.
“That still wasn’t enough for me, so I decided to run for the board,” Metzger quipped.
Metzger plans to pursue business studies at Empire State College and will continue to work for Erie 1 Board of Cooperative Educational Services.
“It’s time for me to formalize my education and continue to encourage my children to be lifelong learners and never stop growing,” she said.
Board President Robert C. Polino said Kulaszewski and Metzger were dedicated trustees who “had their hearts and minds” in the right place.
Superintendent Jon T. MacSwan expressed his gratitude to Kulaszewski and Metzger, noting that they took a chance in hiring him.
“If it wasn’t for you guys, you wouldn’t have taken a chance on a high school principal with no Central Office experience,” MacSwan said. “I want to thank you both.”
The district presented Kulaszewski and Metzger with eagle trophies, individually inscribed to outline their accomplishments.