Danville grad named as new school board member

The Danville Board of Education selected Esther Rugerio to fill the vacancy left by board member Troy McCowan when he resigned at the end of June to take a job out of the state. This appointment will be effective until the end of the term on Dec. 31, 2022.

At its Aug. 5 meeting, the three remaining board members, Steve Becker, Glen Ball and Wade Stanfield, interviewed six candidates for the position. They were  Rugerio, Jennifer Pusateri, Michael Strysick, Elaine Wilson-Reddy, Jenny McClure and Patrick McClure.

Now, the board must start the search process again to find a replacement for the vacancy left by Paige Stevens when she officially left the board last week because she was also moving out of town.

Following her appointment to the board, Stanfield said, “All of the candidates this round were extremely qualified and would have been good board members.” He added, that the decision, “wasn’t easy at all,” but Rugerio’s background made her stand out.

“I think that she will serve the board well because she will represent another population of our school district because she is a Hispanic lady and she’s bilingual,” Stanfield said.

Ball said she also has a background in finance and marketing.

Stanfield added, “She’s not only going to serve this board — she’s going to serve all of the population of the Danville Independent Schools.”

Rugerio is a Danville resident and graduated from Danville High School in 2009. She’s also a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University with a degree in marketing and finance, according to her board application.

She currently works at Blue Heron Consulting and is the mother of a daughter who just completed Toliver Intermediate School and will be attending John W. Bate Middle School beginning later this month.

Rugerio wrote in her application, “As a graduate from Danville High School, I want to preserve and improve the quality of the school system for future generations. … The success of Danville Independent Schools means success for my daughter and all students currently enrolled.”

She added, “Over 40% of the demographic is made up of minorities. We are Hispanic. Having my daughter exposed to other students with similar and different cultures is extremely important to me. It helps prevent and overcome racial and ethnic division, minimizes stereotypes, and even enhances your communication skills by being surrounded and immersed in different languages and cultures.”

Rugerio wrote, “The success of the Danville Independent Schools not only affects the students but affects the success of the city of Danville. We want to make sure strong, independent and successful students graduate every year because they are our future. We need them to carry on the legacy and pave the way for future generations. … In nourishing current generations, we guarantee the city of Danville will continue to grow and be prosperous.”

Rugerio wrote that she believes the number one goal of the school board should be to ensure the happiness and success of students. “In our district 69% of students are in poverty. There have been significant studies over the last few decades that show students who live in poverty are exposed to more stress, have lower test scores and miss school more often. It’s hard for students to focus on their education when they’re struggling at home. We need to find ways to nourish and support students outside of the school system. … When students’ basic needs are met, such as food, shelter and safety, they’ll be able to better focus on their education and move into self-fulfillment needs.”

In a phone interview after being notified that she had been selected, Rugerio said she was “ecstatic.” She said she was looking forward to being a part of the process that will help make her daughter’s and other Danville students’ futures brighter.