Board of Education Candidates

Karen Moran, Incumbent


I have lived in Tolland for 21 years. My husband, Kevin and I chose Tolland for its reputable school system, its close proximity to Interstate 84, the Mass Pike, and our immediate family as well as a convenient middle point between our extended families.

I am a full-time parent to our 15 year-old daughter, and 12 year-old son and manage our home and finances. My professional background is in Marketing and Management. I have also been an avid volunteer in our schools and community since my children were in elementary school and still enjoy these efforts today.

I enjoy spending time with family and friends, whether that is through casual get-togethers, or on the sidelines of our children’s activities. When spare time allows, I enjoy reading and attending live music and theater performances.

I have always loved the sense of community I experienced when moving to Tolland… from the parent/family groups when my children were young, to the parades, farmer’s market and events like Celebrate Tolland. My family has also enjoyed the many open spaces and walking trails available to us here.

Why are you running for reelection to the Board of Education?
I am running as an incumbent for the Board of Education and I am honored to have served my community in this capacity for the past 4 years.  I have always felt that a strong, public school system makes up the very fabric of a community. And at the same time, a strong community can be an integral part in shaping our youth. My many years of volunteer service, including PTO president, as well as my marketing experience, have given me an excellent base toward the work we do on the Board of Education, such as serving on the Communications & Outreach Committee as its chairperson. I have organized and led a Website Task Force, and a Community Conversation on Raising Resilient Kids.

What is your vision for Tolland?
Tolland is facing some challenges during these uncertain times as we deal with state and local budget issues, and the effect failing foundations will have on our residential investments. I believe that a vision for the future of Tolland should involve everyone who lives and works here, and community conversations are a great way to do that. I am excited to look for other opportunities to bring our school community and greater community together, to create more connections, and more dialogue.


Sam Adlerstein, Incumbent


I moved to Tolland in 1994. I am a UCONN grad and was familiar with the area. I loved the rural character, yet still close enough to everything.  I’ve enjoyed biking forever, and Tolland is great for that.

Professionally, I am the Director of Finance and Operations for a public school district. I enjoy spending my free time with my family.

I’ve gained a larger sense of community through volunteering in Tolland.  It’s my home. It’s the only hometown my children will ever know.

Why are you running for re-election to the Board of Education?
This would be my third two-year term on the BOE. I’ve also Chaired Friends of Tolland Schools (no longer active — it served its purpose for the time). These experiences have been very valuable opportunities to contribute to the future of the Town.

What is your vision for Tolland?
There are many issues facing Tolland right now. We must protect our investments and maintain Tolland as an attractive community with far less revenue (if that is to be the case). Crumbling foundations are an ongoing problem in the Town and region. The biggest test of community is how we face up to these huge challenges.

How we do education in Tolland is largely in flux.  From a student’s perspective, I greatly look forward to the experience of mastery-based learning (including students as the drivers of their own learning) and more culturally responsive education.  I look forward to retaining and attracting more students to our district because of it’s quality and reputation.


Cliff Vachon, Incumbent

I’ve lived in Tolland for 4 years with my wife, Kelly. We were looking for a ‘small town’ community with a good school systems for our family. In the past few years, I’ve found I love this community. I have met so many wonderful people in town the truly care about one another.

I work at CVS Health and manage our Third Party Risk Management program. Basically – I help make sure vendors that have our data keep it safe. I love playing with my kids, visiting my parents back in NH (where I grew up), and photography.

 Why are you running for re-election to the Board of Education?
In 2015 I was seated on the Board of Education (BOE). I enjoy talking with people and hearing their stories. I use my role on the BOE to help ensure Tolland continues to have a great school system.

What is your vision for Tolland?
The most pressing issues facing our community right now are the budget and school cutbacks.

I really enjoy technology and science.  In my position on the BOE, I hope to work to ensure Tolland has great STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs in place


Susan Seaver, Incumbent

I have lived in Tolland since 2009. In addition to the proximity to family, the reason we chose Tolland was that the schools had excellent rankings/reputation, the ease of commuting to NYC and Boston, and the reasonable housing prices. I am currently a stay at home mother and involved in volunteering for the town and schools. We enjoy time with family, attending sporting events, and hiking with our dogs. One thing I love about living in Tolland is the ease of access it has to NYC and Boston, and of course the people that live here!

Why​ ​are​ ​you​ ​running​ ​for​ ​reelection to the Board of Education?
I currently serve on the BOE in Tolland. I’ve enjoyed many years of experience with the Tolland Schools as a Teacher substitute and ParaProfessional Substitute before I was elected to the BOE.

What​ ​is​ ​your​ ​vision​ ​for​ ​Tolland?
In this moment, the State of CT budget crisis is the most pressing issue facing Tolland.
I plan to continue to be an avid supporter of Dr. Willett’s vision to make the Tolland School District the ‘Lighthouse’ it is meant to be. I believe the success of the Town of Tolland rests on the success of our school system.


Jane Pasini

Biography Pasini
I’ve lived in Tolland for 16 years, came for the rural setting and great school system. I am a Human Biology Adjunct Professor at Eastern CT State University. In my free time I enjoy photography, boating, traveling, cooking, and reading. I love the open space here in Tolland and the proximity to New York and Boston.

Why are you running for a seat on the Board of Education?
I have served as an Executive Member of the Friends of Tolland Schools PAC, an active member of FTS for over 10 years, and have been a member of the TDTC for several years.

I have been a public school educator for over 15 years in CT and have been very engaged in the Tolland school system since I moved to town. I also volunteer at many events in Tolland Public Schools (including THS Community Advisory Council & Project Graduation). These experiences have provided valuable insight as I look ahead to a seat on the BOE.

What is your vision for Tolland?
The most pressing issues for Tolland today are funding for our schools at the state and local level, crumbling foundations, and real estate values.

I’d like to explore how to increase funding for our schools, maintaining quality education, keeping students here in town (vs. getting services elsewhere), improving teacher and resident morale in town, and reducing the divisive nature around politics in general. I believe we should be working together toward one common goal.


Kate Howard-Bender

Biography Howard-Bender
My husband and I moved to Tolland with our two daughters from Hartford in December of 2014. We came here because of its location, and the excellent reputation for schools.  We also came because of the affordability of the land and the rural atmosphere.  Another selling point was my husband’s family connection to Tolland, as his grandfather is Donald Parker, after whom the Parker Elementary School is named.   Both my husband and I are Connecticut natives, and this just seemed a natural place to land and put down roots.

I am an Assistant Principal at CREC Public Safety Academy, one of the CREC Magnet Schools.  I taught high school English in Hartford for most of my career, in both a neighborhood school and a magnet school. For fun I play tennis and I am a musician.  I also love spending time with my husband and two daughters!

I love how passionate the residents are about the health of their community.  Tolland seems to have a balanced mix of rural and suburban life.  After so many years living in the city, it’s nice to go to the Big Y and see people I know.

Why are you running for a seat on the Board of Education?
While I do not have any previous political experience, I have recently become far more engaged and concerned with local and national politics.

My twenty years in the field of education and my unwavering dedication to ensuring a free and appropriate education for all children, will prove valuable in the role of Board of Education member.  I am thorough in my approach to any issue, and I research all that I do not fully understand.  As a professional educator, I do not shy away from hard work.

What is your vision for Tolland?
The two most pressing issues right now in Tolland are the state budget crisis and its impact on the municipalities (specifically, the Educational Cost Sharing), and the crumbling foundations.  It seems that we do not have enough of a commercial tax base to depend upon to subsidize our educational and municipal needs.  The conservative fiscal approach of the Town Manager has yielded a substantial General Fund-Fund Balance, but that is not the answer.  We have to be more innovative in terms of seeking out alternative revenues as we cannot simply continue to tax the residents to “make up the difference.”

I certainly applaud and would embrace Dr. Willett’s Lighthouse Programs.  It is this type of innovative thinking that will help to ease the “burden” on tax payers.  Based on my experience technology in Tolland Schools is lagging behind other districts, and this is something that I would be interested in investigating.  Finally, based on anecdotal evidence, and the general climate within the United States, I believe it is imperative that we promote equity in our schools, across socioeconomic, gender, and racial divides.  I would be interested in broadening my understanding of the Tolland schools with regard to attitudes toward minority groups, particularly at the middle and high school levels, with the end goal of celebrating diversity and promoting tolerance.


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