Meet the Board

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Bios

Joshua Gela 

I have lived essentially my entire life as a member of the Hoosic Valley
Community. My wife and I are both graduates of Hoosic Valley High School and have
dedicated our professional lives to public education.

As residents of Valley Falls, we have three children who currently attend Hoosic Valley
CSD. Our oldest daughter currently attends the Jr./Sr. High School and our twins are
fifth graders at the Elementary School.

I was fortunate to learn early on in my high school career that I wanted to dedicate my
secondary education plan to teaching children. After graduating from Hoosic Valley HS
in 1999, I attended Hudson Valley Community College before transferring to
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), where I graduated with degrees in
history and elementary education in 2003. My education at MCLA continued, earning a
Masters in Education (2009) and completing the School Leadership Academy (2015).

I began my career in education in 2004 teaching 5th grade at New Covenant Charter
School. From there, in 2005, I transitioned to Averill Park CSD where I have spent the
last 16 years working with students and families. During my time at Averill Park I have
taught 4th and 6th grade, served as district data coach, middle school assistant
principal, and elementary principal. While in leadership roles at APCSD, I have co-
authored published articles on “Utilizing Student Feedback,” “Building School Culture
and Identity,” and “RtI at the Secondary Level.”

In addition to my professional career, I have also spent a significant amount of time
volunteering within our community. For the last decade, I have been actively coaching
all seasons within the Hoosic Valley Athletic Association (HVAA). I have also spent the
previous three years as HVAA president and I am currently vice president. During my
time leading the HVAA Board, we worked to create additional community events
including a family movie night and last summer’s Sandlot League after having to cancel
our spring season due to the pandemic.

I feel that I have the educational skills and knowledge to actively participate as a Hoosic
Valley Board member. In addition, I also feel that my strong ties and knowledge of our
community will allow me to advocate on behalf of all community stakeholders.

I am running for school board because I believe in our school, our community and most
of all our students.

Maureen Gifford – Mayer

I am excited to be running for re-election to the Hoosic Valley School Board, serving the second half of
my term as the Vice President with Chris Pepe as President. I am so proud of what we have
accomplished over the last 4 years and look forward to continuing that important work alongside a truly
remarkable and dedicated team of teachers, administrators, staff and community.

Five years ago we moved our family back to my hometown of Schaghticoke. As a successful HV
graduate myself (attending Cornell University and University of California at Berkeley earning a MS in
Civil and Environmental Engineering, working in higher education in both the private and public sectors),
I decided to dedicate my time and experience back to the Hoosic Valley School District. My husband Eric
and I have 4 kids in the district (Leslie in 7 th , Abe in 5 th , Judd in 2 nd and August in Kindergarten). We are
grateful for love and support our kids feel as part of this district and community and appreciate a
community based in active agriculture and a history of successful small businesses. Our family
businesses include Copses Farms, milking close to 1000 cows, and more recently Hoosac Valley Farmers’
Exchange, supporting the agricultural aspirations of all size farmers. I believe I can successfully
represent the perspective of a taxpayer of a large agricultural land base, owner of small business,
engaged community member and parent.

Over the past 4 years our board has worked hard to rebuild a strong and devoted administrative team,
develop an acclaimed Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Music (STEAM) program, provide after
school programing with partners such as Cornell Cooperative Extension, explore new opportunities for
existing and proposed sports, add programming for Social Emotional Learning (SEL), secure our schools
with a dedicated School Resource Officer, implement data driven assessments, upgrade instructional
technologies, and prioritize student engagement in school and our community all while DECREASING
THE TAX LEVY EVERY year and maintaining the HIGHEST RATING OF FISCAL HEALTH deemed by the
State.

There is always more to do and there is always more to learn. I look forward to continuing work on an
upcoming capital project proposal, adapting our school spaces to accommodate student centered
learning AND open and share community spaces by providing revamped meeting and performance
spaces, shared indoor and outdoor athletic facilities, community gardens and playgrounds, libraries and
creative “maker” spaces/technologies.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve our District for the last 4 years, and I hope you allow me 4 more
to see all of our kids through a successful tenure at Hoosic Valley and create good citizens wherever and
whomever their community may be. Thanks again.

 

Christine Pepe

My name is Christine Pepe and I am seeking reelection to the Hoosic Valley Board of Education. My
husband and I are proud residents of Johnsonville and parents of two young children, Josie and Indigo
both in the elementary school. I look forward to continuing to serve our great community!

I currently serve as BOE President and have been selected by my peers to be President for the last three
years. I am a teambuilder that cherishes the perspective of our parents, teachers, administration, and
our taxpayers. I ask tough questions and get things done. For example, the District increased academic
performance while reducing taxes in four of the last five years. The BOE approved a modest Covid-
related increase this year that was far less than neighboring districts because we critically evaluated
state pandemic guidelines and developed a strategy that was respectful to students, teachers, and
taxpayers.

As a former student athlete and accomplished academic, I value strong extracurricular athletic, science,
arts and trade programs because they build as much character in students as core academics. During
the last four years the district invested heavily in continuing education for teachers and added many
additional programs to engage kids in learning and to help them learn valuable social skills. The district
introduced one-to-one technology and was able to pivot to remote learning far more quickly than other
districts.

I am an independent entrepreneur with 20 plus years of experience running businesses, serving on
boards for startup companies and advising small business owners. In addition to being a full-time
parent, I manage our real estate business and support our family’s energy consulting firm. Previously I
have also led multi-million-dollar merchandise divisions at The Orvis Company, and was the VP of
Mission Delivery at the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York. I have a BA in English from Syracuse
University and have a master’s from Cornell University.

I look forward to continuing to work for our community. Together, we can fight for the best education
we can give our students with fiscal responsibility and loyalty to our educators and to the community.
We can do this! Let’s continue to make Hoosic Valley Central School District the best choice!