WILLIAMSBURG – The room of educators from around the Commonwealth of Virginia sat quietly sipping coffee and eating breakfast but paying rapt attention to the speaker before them.
In her first address as president of the Virginia School Board Association, Joan Wodiska, former chair of the Falls Church City Public Schools Board, launched an initiative she feels is paramount to education. After sharing a personal story that has followed her since she was a child, Wodiska announced she has started the first ever VSBA President’s Platform to engage, educate, and empower school board members around one common problem – childhood hunger.
“When I was in elementary school, I volunteered to be a lunch monitor for the 2nd graders. My job was to hand out lunch tickets, walk the students to the cashier, and wait to collect their tickets,” Wodiska told the crowd. “Some children had white tickets, some children had pink tickets, some children didn’t have tickets. I wanted a pink ticket, because I love the color pink. But I was told my family made too much money for a pink ticket, and I wouldn’t want one. There were also light green tickets. I thought those were pretty too. Green ate something different, and couldn’t get seconds.”
Wodiska’s address closed out the Annual VSBA Conference at the Williamsburg Lodge Friday. Several FCCPS officials, including Superintendent Dr. Toni Jones, joined hundreds of educators from around Virginia for workshops and presentations. Wodiska told the crowd she has worked on her platform over the last 18-months. She said more than 218,000 children in Virginia don’t have enough to eat on a daily basis. She said no community, wealthy or poor, large or small, rural, suburban, or urban, is isolated from hunger. Her new initiative, “Food for Thought,” which is designed to fight childhood hunger, has two main goals: Reduce childhood hunger and provide all students with healthier, more nutritious school meals.
Wodiska that she would be taking over as VSBA president in June.
After Wodiska delivered her platform to the room, a public announcement video was displayed on a large screen in the front of the room. At the conclusion of the video, Wodiska received a roaring standing ovation from her peers.
“I never cease to be amazed by the humanity, dedication and passion of Virginia School Board members,” Wodiska said to the room. “The opportunity to serve with you is a dream I never thought possible. Thank you for your support and faith.”
In the few months she has known Wodiska, Jones said she has been impressed with her work to provide healthy meals to students within FCCPS. The school district last school year, which honors school boards that best demonstrate innovative programs that advance student learning. FCCPS earned the award for their "Access to Healthy Meals" program.
“She has a strong platform and Falls Church City Public Schools is a good model for a healthy food program,” Jones said. “We’re all behind her 100 percent.”