VALPARAISO — When Susan D. Hoffman said, “I won’t be acting alone,” she was talking about addressing the Valparaiso Community School’s greatest needs as a member of a team.
That concept of teamwork clicked with the Center Township Board, whose members voted 3-0 Thursday to appoint Hoffman, a former Valparaiso teacher of 36 years and spouse of another veteran local educator, to the Valparaiso School Board.
“This would be an honor for me to accept,” Hoffman said of the school board seat. “We’re very lucky to have what we have. It seems to be working, and working well.”
Following the second round of board candidate interviews, township board members took only a few minutes of deliberation to vote unanimously for Hoffman. Beginning a four-year term, she succeeds Mark Maasel, who finished his second term on the School Board.
During deliberation, board Chairman Amy Daly and Secretary Debra Fray cited the two candidates who were former teachers — Hoffman and Marilyn C. Hanson. As Fray noted, having a former teacher as a school trustee would be a “very valuable tool to the board at this point and time.”
Board members praised Hanson for her creative problem-solving skills, but Dr. Stephen Buck, a former school board member, cited Hoffman’s knowledge of school finances as a “plus.”
Daly, however, recalled Hoffman’s comment about how, as a board member, she would not be acting alone but rather collaboratively with colleagues.
“Not one member, but as part of a team,” Daly said of Hoffman’s statement.
During the second round of interviews, each candidate had 20 minutes to respond to questions gathered from the community and any further questions from township board members.
Hoffman, whose husband Mark was the longtime Valparaiso High School football coach and later athletic director, joins Jennifer Bognar as the female members of the five-person school board. Besides her gender, Hoffman said she brings “diversity of thought and philosophy” to her fellow school trustees.
While noting that some decisions by the state legislature “have not helped us,” Hoffman proposed going downstate and spending time with Hoosier lawmakers.
When asked about school superintendents, Hoffman noted the importance of their visibility and accessibility.
The other two school board candidates were Anna M. Hearn, an attorney and single mother of two, and Rex G. Richards, president of the Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce.