This release was submitted by the Clark School District.
For the first time in recent memory, the Clark School District will be open on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day; a day that was originally scheduled as a day of no school. Due to Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath wrecking havoc on the schools, the district lost six school days due to closures and is now having to make up previously scheduled holidays and school closures as school days.
Keeping with the mantra “when life serves you lemons, make lemonade,” the Clark administration decided to make the most of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day being a school day by inviting various guest celebrities and state leaders into the schools to speak to the impressionable students. With the focus of the presentations being on the topic of “How to overcome obstacles and realize one’s dreams and potential,” the district has lined up a dynamic roster of presenters.
New Jersey Senate Educational Chair, R. Teresa Ruiz will be presenting at the Frank K. Hehnly Elementary School. Senator Ruiz represents the 29th Legislative District, which includes the Union County Township of Hillside, and parts of the City of Newark in Essex County. Ms. Ruiz is a first-generation Puerto Rican American, she is the first Latina to serve in the State Senate.
Senator Ruiz, an Assistant Majority Leader, serves as Chair of the Senate Education Committee, Vice-Chair of the Legislative Oversight Committee and as a member of the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee, Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and the Joint Committee on Public Schools.
A lifelong resident of Newark's North Ward is afearless advocate for the people and issues in which she believes, Senator Ruiz uses the skills she learned in county government and the political realm to promote the ideas of justice, inclusion and equality. As the Chair of the Senate Education Committee, Senator Ruiz has been an advocate for students, parents and teachers throughout New Jersey’s public schools.
Senator Ruiz worked as a Pre-K Teacher after she graduated from Drew University as an English major. She was a First Fidelity Bank Scholar in her junior year of college, and spent six weeks studying art and culture in West Africa. A founding member of the Robert Treat Academy, she has served for as a school Trustee. Senator Ruiz is Co-Chair of the Hispanic Scholarship Program for the North Ward Center. She also served as a Trustee of the Essex County Technical-Vocational School Board.
Senator Ruiz was the first Puerto Rican woman to sit as a member of the Essex County Improvement Authority Board of Commissioners. She served as an elected delegate for John Kerry at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and was also elected as a Clinton delegate in 2008.
In commenting on Senator Ruiz’s upcoming visit to the Clark Schools, Superintendent of Schools Kenneth Knops remarked, “As a school community we are delighted and honor to have Senator Ruiz visit our schools and speak with our students and staff. She is a tireless advocate for the state’s public schools, and a visionary thinker and educator. She will be an outstanding role model, guiding light, and mentor to our impressionable students.”