WHHS senior serving on state Board of Education
WHHS senior serving on state Board of Education
Posted on 09/10/2015
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WEST HAVEN, Sept. 8, 2015 — A West Haven High School senior who was chosen last year as a student representative for the city’s Board of Education is now branching out to the state level.

WHHS Class President Susannah Beyl has also been appointed by Governor Dannel P. Malloy to the Connecticut Board of Education as a new student representative. She is one of just two students in the entire state to have earned the distinction out of an applicant pool of teens from across Connecticut. She will also serve on the State Student Advisory Council on Education.

“As board representative, I’m going to speak honestly about what they’re giving me in my packet of weekly mailings—I’ve gotten Congressional bills to look at, proposals for new schools, Common Core and SBAC test statistics, budget and financial information. When they talk about reforming schools, that’s when I chime in and keep students’ best interests in mind because I’m a public school student too,” Beyl said.

“The fact that a student can get to this spot and work among these people, I thought would be beneficial for me and for them. I’m so honored to be able to share what I’m saying with the board and to be making a difference on a bigger scale. It’s just surreal this is happening to me. I’m still kind of in shock by the whole thing.”

Beyl is an accomplished student who this summer participated in Yale University’s Yale Daily News Summer Journalism Program and Yale Young Global Scholars session on international affairs and security. She’s also involved in the WHHS Theatre Workshop, WHHS band and school newspaper, as well as the WHHS mock trial team, Peer Advocate volunteer group and National Honor Society.

As she starts the college application process, she’s considering a major in international relations, given her interests in politics, government and culture. 

Her curiosity about government’s inner-workings, combined with her West Haven Board of Education experience, prompted her to apply for the state Board of Education student representative role. She heard about the opportunity in the Advanced Placement (college-level) U.S. Government and Politics course at WHHS.

“As part of the application, you had to write a personal statement about an issue in education that was most pressing to you. So I talked about ELL (English Language Learner) programs and how a lot of students don’t have access to what they need, because there aren’t teachers and paraprofessionals for all the different languages students speak,” Beyl explained.

“I think we need to look at reform for those programs across the state, especially in the New Haven county area because it’s very diverse. And I’m also interested in an expansion of the arts, of course.”

Beyl’s first meeting on the state level was this summer, and meetings will continue this year once a month. She’ll remain as a student representative on the West Haven Board of Education, as the meeting times don’t interfere.

Superintendent of Schools Neil C. Cavallaro says he’s not surprised Beyl was appointed to the state board and that he doesn’t recall another Westie earning the title before.

“She’s a real go-getter with a demonstrated interest in issues facing public education today who also takes it upon herself to get educated on those important issues. We’re so proud she’s representing West Haven and our school district up in Hartford,” Cavallaro said. “She’s never been afraid to offer insight and opinions on our Board of Education and will be a great advocate for students at the state level.”