Enid Lipeles, chairman of the Monroe Town Council since 2001 and an award-winning chemistry teacher at Masuk High School for 42 years before her retirement, has been named Monroe’s 2013 Outstanding Citizen.
A 10-member panel representing a cross section of the Monroe community selected Lipeles in a closed ballot from a list of 14 candidates nominated by the public. The Outstanding Citizen is chosen based on an individual’s impact on the quality of life in Monroe through the years.
“Monroe is a wonderful place to live for all ages,” Lipeles said, “and I will always try to make it better.”
Presentation ceremony on April 8 at Town Hall
The award will be presented at the April 8 meeting of the Town Council, where Lipeles is to receive a one-of-a-kind image created by Doug Fedorko’s woodworking class at Masuk and a video profile of Lipeles is to be premiered, the work of the video students of Jonelle Pappas at the high school.
A 7 p.m. reception at the Town Hall, with light refreshments provided through private contributions, will precede the presentation. To contribute, contact Marven Moss, member-at-large of the selection committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-268-2961.
The Outstanding Citizen award is administered through the office of First Selectman Stephen J. Vavrek. “So many people contribute selflessly and meaningfully to the community fabric of Monroe,” Vavrek said, “it’s extremely challenging to single out one noteworthy individual every year. The candidates all represent the essence of altruism and the spirit of humanity. Eventually we hope to recognize all of those who inspire us.”
Involved in many facets of town government, the community
The Lipeles commitment to civic service in Monroe extends outside the Town Council to being chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals from 1992 to 2001 and vice chairman of the Parks and Recreation Commission from 1983 to 1988.
She also was of chairman of the Monroe League of Women Voters from 1994 to 1998, president of Monroe Jewish Women’s Club from 1973 to 1978, and president of the Monroe chapter of the American Field Service from 1970 to 1980.
“No one runs a tighter meeting than Enid — or has a more intuitive sense of the undercurrents in a committee room,” one observer said Lipeles’ leadership skills.
Was Monroe Teacher of the Year, Advisor of the Year
Her four decades-plus at Masuk High School were capped by eight years as head of the Science Department while still teaching chemistry, and her recognition as Monroe Teacher of the Year in 1990 and as a finalist for Connecticut Teacher of the Year in 1991.
Lipeles was also Advisor of the Year for the Connecticut Association of Student Councils in 1991-92 and Outstanding Connecticut High School Science Teacher for 1995-96. Her work in academia also includes publication of more than 12 scientific papers and led to numerous grants to advance educational opportunities for students in Monroe.
She retired from teaching in 2007.
In a typical accolade, a student leaving Masuk for college once wrote to Lipeles: “I learned so much and had fun doing it. Thanks … for your support and encouragement along the way. You are one of those teachers I will never forget.”
Has remained involved in education
For the past 12 years, Lipeles has remained active as a student teacher supervisor at Sacred Heart University and the University of Bridgeport. She also volunteers at High Horizons Magnet School in Bridgeport, working with eighth grade science students and reading to kindergarten youngsters.
Ralph Lipeles, her husband of 50 years, is a retired mechanical engineer. They have lived in Monroe for 47 years and have three children and seven grandchildren.
Likes to travel and play tennis
Enid and Ralph’s sense of adventure has taken them sightseeing to 25 countries from Argentina to Tanzania through the years, with the itineraries conscientiously assembled so Enid can typically be back in town for the twice-a-month Monday night Town Council meetings.
Tennis also is one of Lipeles’ passions. Wobbly knees have bounced her from the singles court, but she still plays doubles indoors and outdoors year-around. She is known to opponents for her doggedness, ball placement and a reliable left-handed slice.
Recent award recipients and criteria
Former First Selectman Karen Burnaska’s selection as Monroe’s Outstanding Citizen in 2012 and businessman and philanthropist Bernie Sippin’s in 2011 revived a tradition that had been an annual convention from 1983 to 1998.
Among the criteria the selectors apply:
—Act(s) of courage
—Raising the profile/image of Monroe
Who makes the selection
The organizations represented on the selection panel and their representatives are:
—Monroe Historical Society: Karen Cardi, president
—Monroe Senior Center: Cathy Belanger
—Edith Wheeler Memorial Library: Lorna Rhyins, adult and teen services librarian
—Monroe Arts Council: Barbara Haeger, president
—Monroe Clergy Association: Rev. Jennifer Gingras, senior pastor, Monroe Congregational Church
—Radio station WMNR-FM: Fred Velardi, broadcaster and commissioner
—Monroe Police Department: Chief John Salvatore
—Masuk High School Student Council: Aviva Doery, senior class president
—Monroe Chamber of Commerce: Ray Giovanni, president
—Members-at-large: Marven Moss and Steve Schapiro