Passionate voice remains on board for 2nd term

NASHUA – When Helen Honorow was first appointed to the state Board of Education, she wrote a letter to all of the school superintendents in the districts she would be representing.

“I wanted to let them know I’m here and available,” said Honorow, a Nashua attorney and parent of two students in the city’s school system.

Since her appointment in early 2007, Honorow said her time on the board has been fruitful. Honorow was appointed to fill a vacant seat representing the fifth district. She was recently reappointed to a new five-year term that expires in 2012.

“It has been a terrific experience,” she said.Honorow, who has a degree in education, said she was first interested in the position because of the passion she has for improving the quality of education.

“I have always been very interested in education issues,” she said. Prior to the position on the state board, Honorow was involved in the Nashua schools and in parent groups.

When the idea was being discussed to close Mount Pleasant Elementary School, Honorow was one of the parents leading the fight at school board meetings to keep the school open.

Since taking her position on the board, Honorow has managed to keep that local connection. She is currently president of the PTO at Pennichuck Middle School, where one of her two children attends school.

She is also involved in the district’s ongoing development of a long-term strategic plan.

Honorow said she has been able to utilize the knowledge she has gained in Concord and bring it back to the local level.

“I have been able to share what I know with the schools that I’ve been involved with,” she said. “I’m happy to be a resource. People do e-mail me and let me know about issues they’re concerned.”

Honorow said she is most proud of the work the state board did on coming up with a new set of rules for special education. The state board and Department of Education held a series of hearing and informational sessions, she said.

“That process was truly one where input from all stakeholders was sought,” she said. “It was a huge process.”

Honorow said the impact of the federal No Child Left Behind is also something that board deals with on a constant basis. She said that as a parent, she understood the impact the law has had.

“Being on the state board, you live it,” she said.

Honorow said she has been impressed with the way Commissioner of Education Lyonel Tracy and other state education officials have handled the situation with Nashua.

Due to low test scores, the district has entered into a corrective action process, which requires the state to make some type of change that is designed to improve test scores.

Tracy has stressed that the state was not going to come in and tell Nashua what to do but would offer assistance and guidance as it is needed.

“To me, that is indicative of how the Department of Education operates,” she said.