The Bayonne Education Foundation awarded Theodore “Ted” Garelick its “Lifetime Achievement in Education” award for his many years of work as a trustee on the Board of Education and as an advisory board member of the Simpson-Baber Foundation, which raises awareness about autism and helps to provide resources and opportunities to autistic children in the area.
After working on missile sites during his military service, Garelick attended Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City and later earned his Master’s in Business Administration from Wagner College. He spent 30 years working at IBM, retiring in 2000 to devote himself to civic service. He thanks his wife, Phyllis, a former president of the Board Bayonne of Education, for being the “driving force in getting me involved.”
Garelick volunteers his time on boards for the Bayonne Medical Center, Temple Beth Am, the Bayonne Environmental Commission, Pamrapo Bank, the Windmill Alliance, and the Planning Board. While most are not in a position to volunteer fulltime, Garelick encourages others to volunteer as much as possible.
“Volunteerism is extremely important,” he said. “Whether it’s in Cub Scouts, becoming a den mother, or becoming a Little League coach. That engagement gives people a view into segments of society they might not otherwise get to see.”
To Garelick, volunteerism is part of free speech and democracy. Society faces many problems, and the time people spend coming up with solutions is not clocked at work. “It’s about expressing yourself and putting your money where your mouth is,” Garelick said.
“Volunteerism is extremely important.” – Ted Garelick
Dedicated to education
Garelick, 75, declined to run in the fall election to retain his seat on the Board of Education, but he remains an astute observer of education issues, which he takes very seriously.
“Fifteen percent of the Bayonne population are students, but they represent 100 percent of the future,” he said. “If they are not educated properly, it’s going to be a disaster in the coming decades.”
New Jersey trails the nation in retaining its young graduates, who most often move away for better opportunities in other states. Meanwhile, half of the millennials that stay are left with no option but to live with relatives, partly due to paralyzing college debt.
Garelick was drafted into the military as a teenager, just missing the cutoff for deployment to Vietnam. He felt a great deal of uncertainty about his future, until the military offered him vocational training on missile sites. “It was great because when I came out I could transfer my skills,” he said.
He now advocates for better vocational training, another element of Bayonne public education that has strengthened during his tenure. “College isn’t for everybody, and we know that,” he said.
Garelick has weathered the storm of Bayonne’s severe underfunding from the state, which has shaped his views on how public schools should be funded. He argues for a formula that considers more heavily the costs of special needs and English as a Second Language education, which are unusually high in Bayonne.
The Bayonne School District has been a leader in providing education to children with disabilities, especially autism. Garelick has played an important role in that while sitting on the advisory board of the Simpson-Baber Foundation, and as trustee on the Board of Education, working with former Superintendent Dr. Patricia McGeehan, who Garelick called a “champion of special education.”
His biggest accomplishment, he said, is playing a part in Bayonne’s “complete renaissance.” As chair of the Planning Board, he has seen “overgrown lots turn into new buildings housing new residents.”
While he will be leaving the Board of Education, Garelick intends to stay active and volunteer his time. “Anything I can do to help ensure a bright future for Bayonne,” he said.
Rory Pasquariello can be reached at email@example.com.