NORWALK, Conn. — Late Board of Education member Mike Barbis will be memorialized with a buddy bench at Rowayton Elementary School.
“I always looked at him as like the pulse of Rowayton,” BoE member Heidi Keyes said Tuesday. “If you think of a buddy bench, it’s a way to for children, students at the elementary level, to alleviate loneliness, and to really foster friendships…. it just fosters those relationships between their peers as well as adults.”
BoE members voted unanimously in favor of the buddy bench to honor Barbis, who passed away suddenly two weeks ago at age 59.
“Many of us as board members have been really trying to navigate a state of shock over something that is so sudden and so tragic,” Board of Education Chairman Colin Hosten said.
Barbis was a BoE member for the last decade of his life, serving as vice chairman and chairman, leading the Facilities Committee and the Finance Committee at different times.
“I didn’t work with Mike for a very long time as a board member, but I can say from someone who was on the receiving end of his hard work, as one of the principals in his district, that Mike was always there for kids,” Suzanne Koroshetz said. “He was always asking good questions. He was ever present and he really was there for all the students.”
“We all know that his passion sometimes got the best of him but for good reasons. He fought for the children. He fought for what he believed those right? He fought for everything. But he was also a mentor and a teacher,” Diana Carpio said.
“He was such an amazing resource for the district at large and such a bundle of energy. Anytime I would call him he was there available and accessible,” Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Alexandra Estrella said. “…He will be missed by all of us.”
“He’s had a footprint and a pulse in every part of Norwalk Public Schools,” Keyes said. “And I really feel it’s important that we do the right thing, not only for his memory, but also for, you know, for his family as well how important that is …It was a sudden passing and it was unexpected and … I think I know I’m personally still numb by it. And you know, his memory, I believe will always live on.”