Mike Boone, Sara Drappi, Diana Ferrera, Aaron Spiegeland and Denise Verzella are the five candidates running for two seats on the Verona Board of Education on Tuesday, November 8.
To help readers to get to know the candidates, listed below in order of their place on the ballot, MyVeronaNJ interviewed all five via Zoom last week. There were five questions that were the same for all of the candidates, and another four that were specific to an individual candidate’s background, platform or public positions. You can read each candidate’s response to all nine questions on the pages below, which also include ways to learn more about them on the web and social media. In the coming days, MyVeronaNJ.com will be grouping the candidates’ response to each of the common questions in an easy-to-read format:
Ferrera has lived in Verona since 2017 with her husband Gary, a lifelong Verona resident, and their two children. Ferrera is a 2020 Governor’s Educator of the Year recipient and is a reading specialist and instructional coach at Mt. Pleasant Elementary school in West Orange; she taught English language arts in third and fifth grade before that. She was the vice president of fundraising for the Forest Avenue SCA, taught faith formation at Our Lady of the Lake, and has participated on multiple district-based committees, including the Elementary Reopening Committee.
Verzella moved to Verona in 2006, soon after she married her husband, and her two daughters are now middle schoolers. She works as an education attorney who represents families in disputes with their school districts. She also volunteers as a board member for Verona CHILD, and at the food pantry at Holy Spirit Church.
Boone grew up in Michigan and has lived in Verona since 2001. He and his wife Danielle have two children, one a Verona High School graduate and the other who is a VHS senior. He is a former journalist who now works in the advertising industry and as an adjunct college instructor. He is an assistant troop leader of Verona Troop 2 and a program manager for the Montclair Blues Hockey club.
Drappi was elected to a first term in 2019 and currently serves on the Education/Special Education and Buildings & Grounds committees, where she oversaw the completion of Verona’s most recent, $28 million referendum. She is a Verona native and Verona High School graduate. Drappi has a BA from Indiana University-Bloomington and an MA in education and a certificate in special education from Montclair State University. She works as a special education teacher in another district.
Born and raised in New Jersey, Spiegeland has lived in Verona community since 2016. He, his wife Marie, a teacher in Passaic, and two children live in the F.N. Brown district. A marketing and branding executive, he has worked for companies and clients ranging from Ford to AT&T to the Andy Warhol Foundation and Warner Bros. For the last two years, he has worked at Rutgers, where he oversees the university’s merchandising program.
And a note on format. All interviews were recorded and transcribed on Otter.ai, and the automatic transcripts were checked against the audio for accuracy. When speakers used acronyms, we have spelled out the acronym in brackets on first reference. When there is an error of fact, that is noted in italics after the candidate’s response.
You can read the candidates’ combined answers to question one, about the role of a school board, here; question two, about the aftermath of COVID, here; question three, about parental involvement in education, here; question four, on the politicization of school issues, here; and question five, on diversity, equity and inclusion, here. For the report on campaign donations and spending, click here.