Readers Write: Barbara Berkowitz epitomizes commitment

When I think of Barbara Berkowitz, Great Neck’s Board of Education president, I think of commitment. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality. It is the words that speak boldly of your intentions. And the actions which speak louder than the words. It is making the time when there is none.

Coming through time after time after time, year after year after year. Commitment is the stuff character is made of; the power to change the face of things. It is the daily triumph of integrity over skepticism.”

Barbara Berkowitz epitomizes President Lincoln’s definition of commitment — commitment to the Great Neck Public Schools and to its Board of Education.

Mrs. Berkowitz’s commitment on the school level began years ago when she was active in and committed to the E.M. Baker School PTA, serving as its president and treasurer; editor of the school newsletter, Baker Bulletin; and founder of Family Math and Outreach Programs. She was also a member of the Shared Decision Making Committee at Baker and at North Middle.

Her commitment grew to the district level, first as a delegate to the United Parent-Teacher Council (UPTC), then as co-chairperson of the UPTC Budget Committee, and finally, to the Board of Education. Mrs. Berkowitz has served on the Board as a trustee for 29 years and as board president since 2006, having been unanimously selected by her Board colleagues each year.

Mrs. Berkowitz has shown her commitment and her skills, and utilized her experience as a Board trustee, by shepherding numerous school projects, including: introducing a pre-K program at the north end of town, as well as offering a Fun for Fours and SCOPE option for parents; making Lunar New Year a holiday for the Great Neck Public Schools; increasing security protocols, staff, and equipment districtwide; enhancing Robotics, Recreation, and Technology initiatives; saving the Summer Program from elimination; increasing revenue sources to help with costs for unfunded New York State mandates; and, in response to COVID-imposed limitations, working closely with the CDC, Nassau County Department of Health, administrators, teachers, nurses, and parents on plans to open schools in September 2020 with additional teachers and paraprofessionals, safely offering remote, hybrid, and in-person instruction, in buildings equipped with additional furniture, thermometers, improved ventilation, and building-wide cleaning equipment and protocols.

Mrs. Berkowitz helped guide the school district through some perilous times, including a microburst, a failed school bond issue, and now, the COVID pandemic. In each crisis, she used the resources and skills of administrators, teachers, parents, and board colleagues to achieve the best outcomes for the children who are the lifeblood of our schools.

Each time final Board decisions were made, they were made in public, operating, as former Superintendent William Shine said frequently of the Board, “under glass.”

“Year after year after year,” I witnessed Barbara Berkowitz’s unfailing and selfless commitment first-hand, throughout her time serving on the board, when I was coordinator of public relations/publicity for the Great Neck Public Schools.

Barbara Berkowitz is running for re-election to the Board of Education because of her love for the children and the community, and because of her commitment to both.

Please show your commitment to your schools and to your community by voting for Barbara Berkowitz on Tuesday, May 11.

Jessica Kovner Vega
Great Neck Graduate and Parent of Two Graduates

Share this Article