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Elaine Whitney resigns as chairwoman, remains on Board

Shown above, Whitney is sworn in as a board member on Jan. 8, 2009. She was elected chairwoman in 2012.
Shown above, Whitney is sworn in as a board member on Jan. 8, 2009. She was elected chairwoman in 2012.

Staples doesn’t run itself.

Elaine Whitney, a Yale and Northwestern alum and a resident of Westport for over thirteen years, has stepped down as Board of Education (BOE) chairwoman. She held the position for the last two years.

On Nov. 17, at the school board’s annual meeting, Whitney formally announced her resignation. She plans to devote herself to her career in healthcare strategy and policy, where she has worked for over a decade.

Michael Gordon was elected the new chair in the Nov. 17 meeting, nominated by his peers, Mark Mathias and Jeannie Smith. Gordon’s wife and three kids were in the audience.

Whitney has “unmatched wisdom, commitment, and graciousness,” Gordon said. “All of us in Westport are better off [for her service].”

As chairwoman, Whitney prioritized a balanced budget. During her term, Westport had the lowest operating school budget in over a decade. Her priority was fiscal responsibility, as well as multidisciplinary learning and innovation in the classroom. Singapore math, the innovative teaching method emphasizing mastery over memorization, was introduced to Westport elementary schools. Whitney was also behind the twenty-first century learning skills implemented at Staples, a program highlighting creative and critical thinking skills, collaboration and communication.

In her announcement, Whitney expressed her mixed emotions on her career shifts.

“I am bittersweet,” Whitney said. “I am very excited to renew my professional life, but I do find serving on the board very, very exciting.”

Whitney will remain on the board as newly elected secretary, nominated by her 2012 Democratic running mate Brett Aranow.

Whitney is a “unique asset to the board,” Aranow said.

Republican board member Jeannie Smith agreed, and seconded the nomination for Whitney as secretary.

Whitney is the daughter of a former Westport teacher, and a mother to three children, two of whom are current students– an eighth grader at Bedford Middle School and a sophomore at Staples.

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Jackie Cope
Jackie Cope, Features Editor
Senior Jackie Cope is determined to “Make H15tory” this year,  as it is written on the windows of her car in hot pink writing. Cope is currently working on the Inklings staff as one of the features editors and is ready to bring fun, engaging, and colorful features to this year’s papers. “I am beyond excited to be in charge of features,” Cope said.  “Last year I was Opinions Editor -- still fun but I needed a change.” Some of her previous work includes a piece where she focused on the current fashion trends around Staples.  It is a prime example of everything she publishes: lively, well-researched, and thought provoking. When Cope is not reporting on pressing topics at Staples, she devotes a good amount of her time to volunteer work. This past summer, she volunteered as a teacher’s aid at Daughters Of Charity pre-school in Bridgeport, Connecticut. “To put it into simple words, my job was making sure these three to five year olds didn’t kill each other,”Cope said.  “It’s total chaos -- one minute they’re laughing at something that is minorly funny and the next they trip and end up crying as if the world is coming to an end.” Aside from having to provide constant attention, Cope very much enjoys the presence of children and viewed her time working at the school as more of a fun activity rather than a job. She explained that many people would find her job as a challenging one, since she would be, “with these kids for hours on end, every day.”  However, Cope survived, “simply by treating them as funny little humans,” she said. “I loved it so much that I still find myself sharing stories about them to my friends.” Unsure of her profession for the future, whether it includes being with children or with writing, Cope is ready to leave her mark at Staples High School. “Hopefully I will know where I will be attending school for the next four years before April,” she said. “Until then, I’m going to have fun, work hard and make my own history.”  

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