Jennifer Hebert is retiring at the end of the month after nine years on the Huntington School Board, including the last two as its president.
“I have had nine incredible years serving on the board of education,” Mrs. Hebert said. “I know in my heart it’s time.”
Mrs. Hebert’s fellow trustees along with several former board members as well as parents and district employees all thanked her for everything she has done to benefit the community during Monday night’s school board meeting. It was her final meeting as a trustee.
“I have so many people to thank, first and foremost my family,” Mrs. Hebert said. “My husband, Jamie and my boys, Ben, Will and Sam have been the most incredible support system any person could ask for. Over the years, they’ve put up with my absence from home as I’ve attended countless hours of meetings and events. They’ve graciously forgiven the many times I abandoned our dinner table to take a call. And they’ve endured some of my really terrible moods during the turbulent times. Sorry guys. My love and gratitude to them, most especially my husband Jamie, who makes everything I do possible.”
A Long Island native, Mrs. Hebert graduated from the East Williston School District in 1986. She attended Tufts University in Boston, earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1990 and a Master of Arts in Teaching in 1991. She was a public school kindergarten teacher in Massachusetts for several years.
“I want to thank this wonderful community for all the love and support I’ve been given over the years,” Mrs. Hebert said. “Through the good times and the bad, I’ve been so proud to represent our school community. Huntington is a very, very special place; like no other.”
Elected in May 2011 for the first of her eventual three terms, Mrs. Hebert served as school board vice president from July 2014 through June 2018 and as its president for the past two years. She has an extensive background in education as a teacher and parent volunteer.
“I counted up and over my nine years on the board, I’ve worked with a ‘lucky 13’ trustees,” Mrs. Hebert said. “Each and every one of them brought something to the table and I learned from each one. This can be a really tough job and I’ve been blessed to work with the most dedicated, collaborative, wonderful, funny team of people.”
Mrs. Hebert singled out several people for special thanks, including late trustee Adam Spector. “He and I started on the board together during a really tumultuous time for our district and it instantly bonded us,” she said. “Adam’s passion and energy were contagious and inspiring and I’ve never stopped working towards the goals we talked about and shared nine years ago. I hope I’ve made him proud.”
Former trustees Emily Rogan and Bari Fehrs both spoke at Monday night’s virtual meeting and Mrs. Hebert thanked both for their support and friendship over the years.
“To my current board, some of whom I’ve worked with for many years and some who I regret not working with for longer: Thank you for the teamwork and the collaboration,” Mrs. Hebert said. “I’m so proud that for all our differing perspectives, we’ve always managed to, as Adam [Spector] would say, pull in the same direction. And you should know that if I didn’t feel this district was in the best of hands with our current board, I would never have felt free to step away. I’ll be rooting for all of you with everything I’ve got.”
Widely regarded as a creative thinker who enjoys learning about all aspects of the district and its educational program and listening to all sides of every issue, Mrs. Hebert is particularly passionate about public school education. She believes the learning experience offered to Huntington students should be among the finest in the nation.
Mrs. Hebert also thanked Assistant Superintendents Kathie Acker and Beth McCoy and District Clerk Joanne Miranda. “It’s been an honor to work with such strong, smart, capable women,” she said. “I’m so grateful to each of you for everything you do for our district and for all the ways you’ve helped me in my role on the board.”
Currently the director of the pre-school program at St. John’s Nursery School in Huntington village, Mrs. Hebert has devoted countless volunteer hours to Huntington UFSD as a PTA president and treasurer and as a district trustee.
The retiring trustee also expressed her appreciation for Superintendent James W. Polansky. “Do I thank you for stepping in at a time when our district seemed doomed to self-implode?” she asked. “Do I thank you for having the vision to not only mend our district, but to set it on a dynamic path forward? Do I thank you for your tireless efforts in guiding our district and nurturing our students every day of every week of every month of every year? Actually yes, I thank you for all those things. But most of all, I thank you for the opportunity to be part of your team. I’ve learned so much working with you. We had a great run.”
As her remarks drew to a close, Mrs. Hebert grew emotional. “Most importantly, I want to thank the students on the Huntington School District,” she said. “It has always; always been about you. Nine years ago, when people would ask me why I was running, I would say, ‘Because I think I can help.’ As I finish my tenure on the board, I truly hope just that; that when people think about my time on the board, they think ‘she helped.’”