An Open Letter to the Manhasset Community:
As a Manhasset homeowner, taxpayer and resident, father of sixth-grade twins, and active member of the community, I am excited to put forth my candidacy for one of the two slots in the upcoming Board of Education election.
I’m running to provide a fresh perspective, expand upon and enhance Manhasset’s history of excellence, maintain responsible fiscal stewardship and help our district address the many challenges that lie at our doorstep.
I grew up on Long Island, and after a ten-year stint in Manhattan, settled into Manhasset when returning back home to the North Shore. There are few towns on L.I. that have the rich tradition, vibrant town center, sense of community, and award-winning school district as Manhasset.
Coming to the town where my grandfather was a US postman for 25 years, the place where I went for all my haircuts as a child (RIP Joseph), and the town that had a mutual prioritization of academics and athletics was an easy homecoming.
My experience is plentiful and my skillset unique. I’ve been inside the classroom and have been a lifelong advocate for students outside of it.
I’ve served on three national non-profit Boards. In a world that has become divisive, I foster connections and find common ground. I approach change thoughtfully and deliberately. I’m an incrementalist who believes that we can always do better for our kids and our community.
I believe the difference between management and leadership is marked by vision, inspiration, long-term planning, and an appreciation of the need to be more proactive than reactive. I applaud achievement but reject complacency, and believe that continual improvement is the currency we should trade in, no matter how good we are now.
For years I have regularly attended board meetings P.C. (pre-COVID) when they were non-eventful, sparsely attended exercises in community governance.
However, if you have been on board calls this past year, you’ve noticed an awakening. The pandemic revealed a community eager to participate in the process, hungry for accountability, and rife with the desire to do better for our students.
You’ll also remember from these calls that I am not only unafraid to speak my mind and have been a vocal proponent for getting our kids back to school, but also whenever I speak, I aim to do so respectfully, transparently, and with purpose.
In fact, I believe a good leader learns much by listening. Over the course of the past year, I’ve done a lot of listening to my fellow community members, from Spinney Hill to Flower Hill, and all points in between.
One thing has emerged clear: people value our school district but ultimately believe there is room for improvement.
COVID has exposed inequities, inefficiencies, and weaknesses, both structural and pedagogical, in all school districts. Within the chaos, I seek out opportunity.
All schools, including Manhasset, should be developing plans to deal with learning loss and addressing social and emotional health, but there are challenges that are unique to Manhasset, too, like maintaining an infrastructure that dates back to the New Deal, addressing a long-standing capacity issue at the elementary schools, providing more onramps for accelerated learning opportunities and better preparing our students for the types of jobs that await them in the future.
We are one of the only districts on the North Shore that does not offer foreign language daily to our sixth graders or earlier. We have a middle school “elective” program that is neither elective nor does it tap into modern student interests and needs, like STEM, robotics, and communications.
These are observations, not criticisms. None of these aforementioned issues needs to break the bank, but addressing them will require community conversation, buy-in, and ultimately reprioritization and a reallocation of resources. In short, even in excellence, there is room for improvement, but we must be willing to ask hard questions and hear tough answers.
As my career in education comes to a close, the opportunity to serve our community on the board is something I am uniquely prepared for. I think about the issues that impact our district in my daily work, and believe I can add to the conversation and pursuit of goals in an immediate and impactful way, with a minimal learning curve.
I believe the manner in which I’ve run my campaign — open and transparent communication, candid conversations, looking at the hard issues while working hard to hear the concerns of the community – serves as an apt metaphor for how I plan to approach the job as a delegate to the board.
Manhasset is diverse, but we are united in a common desire to provide the best opportunities for our children and the best value for our taxpayers. We all deserve representation that mirrors the priorities we share as a community. It would be a privilege to be that person for Manhasset.