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Board member says goodbye, receives thanks for service

There was a packed house as Sam Mowbray bid adieu to his spot on the Claremont Unified School District Board of Education at the November 16 school board meeting. Having concluded a four-year stint on the board, he has opted not to return for another term.

It was not the first time he’s been saluted for his service. Mr. Mowbray—a retired professor and a scientist who managed the environmental sciences laboratory with the Orange County Sanitation District—served three terms on the board from 1993 until 2005. He returned to the board in 2011. In all, he has helped guide the affairs of Claremont schools for 16 years.

There to salute Mr. Mowbray was his fellow board members as well as Superintendent Jim Elsasser and area dignitaries like Claremont Mayor Corey Calaycay. All who knew him spoke to Mr. Mowbray’s  unceasing dedication to students and his insistence on following his conscience. His term has been marked by the antithesis of groupthink. Mr. Mowbrary has always shown a willingness to ask probing questions and offer dissenting opinions or a qualified agreement.

Also present to applaud Mr. Mowbray was his family, including his wife Barbara and his son and daughter-in-law, Andrew and Sheila Mowbray. The younger Ms. Mowbrary happens to be a third grade teacher at Mountain View Elementary School. Hi three grandchildren, who are students at Condit Elementary, were also in the audience. They include Drew, 12, Carson, 10, and Alexa, who turns 8 in January.

Mr. Mowbray insists he’ll remain an active force in local education. He said he welcomes conversations with members of the current board of education and joked that he’ll dispense advice whether it’s asked for or not.

Speaking after the meeting, his wife reiterated his statement. “Our schools have always been a big concern to Sam,” Barbara said. “Even after he retires, he will still be involved in some ways.”

Community service is second nature to the outgoing board member.

Mr. Mowbrary serves on the board of CLASP (Claremont Afterschool Learning Programs), a nonprofit organization providing after-school homework help and mentorship to at-risk students. He’s also a member of Claremont Rotary, and is in the midst of coordinating the organization’s holiday Adopt A Family Program. In cooperation with Inland Hope Partners, the Rotarians have selected five underprivileged families to which they will provide a Christmas’ worth of presents.

Mr. Mowbray sent out a call to action to the young people of the community, suggesting they answer the call to public service, be it running for school board or another office, working on one of the many committees in the City of Trees or volunteering.

After the accolades, Mr. Mowbrary and board meeting attendees were serenaded by members of the Claremont High School Chamber Singers, who sang jazzy versions of classic songs like “Route 66” and  “New York, New York.” The board then adjourned for a short cake and coffee reception before returning to business as usual.

Beth Bingham, senior minister at Pilgrim Congregational Church, who served on the board previously from 2007 to 2010, will replace Mr. Mowbray. In preparation for her term, which is effective in December, she has attended each of this year’s school board meetings.

Hilary LaConte’s most recent term on the school board also expired this year, making for a total of two open spots on the board. She opted to run again for the office and since she and Ms. Bingham were the only community members who expressed an interest in a board seat—two candidates for two open spots—no election was held this November. Ms. LaConte was also rendered kudos at the meeting for a successful tenure as board president.

—Sarah Torribio

storribio@claremont-courier.com

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