School Board Election brings opportunity for fresh ideas


It is our privilege to submit this letter in support of the candidacies for Port Washington Board of Education for Adam Block, Adam Smith and Justin Renna.

In our time in Port Washington, we have had the opportunity to get to know all three candidates in separate areas of our lives and have found them all to be intelligent, hard-working individuals who care deeply about our community.

The incumbents, who, no doubt, also care deeply, have had over 30 years collectively, and we thank them for their dedication. But on a school board of seven members, it’s time to bring in three who have fresh ideas to help add to the institutional knowledge of the remaining four.

During our dozen years in this community (and the decades more for Matt who grew up in town), we have enjoyed serving as activists and in leadership roles both throughout the town and in the schools. Ilana has dedicated the last decade of her life to the Port Washington Schools, serving in dozens of volunteer positions, including as President of both the Manorhaven Elementary School PTA and the Weber Middle School HSA.

Matt served as president of Temple Beth Israel, the synagogue wherein which he grew up, and currently serves as the Chairman of the Village Club of Sands Point. In these roles, we have been exposed to hundreds of individuals who share their ideas and time in volunteer capacities. Adam, Adam and Justin are at the top of that list.

Matt has had the privilege of a friendship with Adam Block for all of his 45 years, growing up in Soundview and passing through this school district together.

Adam’s creative thinking and professorial mind would be tremendous assets on the School Board.

Can Adam sometimes be a little strong-willed in his convictions? Perhaps. But after years of fighting to ride shotgun in high school, Matt is confident that Adam’s strength of character will add tremendous value to the board.

While Matt served as President of Temple Beth Israel, Adam Smith was a critical partner in leadership. During the scary times following violence at synagogues throughout the country, Adam Smith was tasked with running Security and Emergency Preparedness. Smith took right to the task, working with several security consultants, applying and receiving grants on behalf of the synagogue to assist with strengthening hard targets, and creating plans for emergency situations.

Smith’s “get things done” attitude was vital to our community at a challenging time. We have confidence that Adam will be an immediate value to the BOE committees.

Both Ilana and Matt have had the opportunity to develop a relationship with Justin Renna over the last six years in his roles as parent, coach, and volunteer.

He has served multiple times as the coach of our daughter’s PYA teams, always teaching and inspiring these young women, giving them confidence, teaching them about teamwork, and making sure they always have fun.

In addition, Mr. Renna’s daughter is one of our daughter’s closest friends and they even share the same autoimmune disease. Together, we have advocated on behalf of the two of them (and others in the district) that require special arrangements in several areas of schooling, from the cafeteria to the classroom.

This is not always easy, but working on this together, we have seen Justin’s ability to advocate on behalf of this District’s students.

We ask you to consider assisting in bringing fresh ideas onto the Port Washington Board of Education by supporting Block, Smith & Renna.

Ilana and Matt Engel

Port Washington


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