Mineola resident Stacey DeCillis is running unopposed for President Christine Napolitano’s seat on the Mineola Board of Education in the May 18 election.
Napolitano announced in March that she would not seek re-election after 12 years of serving on the board. Napolitano also endorsed DeCillis’ candidacy for the seat.
DeCillis has worked as an eighth-grade history teacher at Garden City Middle School for 17 years and has lived in Mineola for 13 years. She said that her family’s background in education and community involvement made running for the board a natural choice for her.
“My mom was an administrator in a district, and my father was also a school board member previously, so I come from a background of educators who want to give back to the community,” DeCillis said. “Since there was an open seat this year, I found this as my opportunity to give back to the community, to make sure that the district continues the trajectory that it’s on right now.”
In addition to working as an educator since 2004, DeCillis is a mother of three, which she said gives her a multifaceted perspective for the board.
“I think that I bring some unique qualities of being an educator and a parent – knowing the importance of both curriculum and social-emotional learning, and really having the most up-to-date research on education,” DeCillis said. “I feel like I have that unique perspective.”
DeCillis added that because her children attend Mineola public schools, she sees the effectiveness of the district’s policies and wants to continue that success.
“I’m very happy with the schools and what they’re able to give to my own children and all the children in the district, so I wanted to just make sure that that continues and help build that trajectory and fulfill the mission of the district,” DeCillis said.
Regarding the challenges that COVID-19 may continue to pose, DeCillis applauded the district’s successful implementation of virtual learning. She specifically pointed to the advantages of Mineola’s status as a one-to-one school district, as every student is provided with an iPad by the district.
“With virtual education, they were so prepared. I mean, we’re a one-to-one district to begin with, with the devices. I had a first-grader, and she was so well-versed in how to use that. There was communication right from the start,” DeCillis said.
“Pre-K–8 are all in school full-time in Mineola, which was from the start,” DeCillis continued. “I’ve noticed that any time a class has had to go virtual, it’s a smooth transition. There’s no issues behind it.”
DeCillis expressed confidence in the district’s preparedness and adaptability since the beginning of the pandemic, emphasizing the importance of in-person learning.
“Working in a school and also as a parent, I’m grateful for all the districts on Long Island really putting the kids’ safety and health first and following the science,” DeCillis said. “I think they will continue to see that schools are very safe and that it’s a low transmission point and that the kids need to be in school. We’re much more prepared with how to make sure that we can do that moving forward.”
DeCillis also highlighted the inclusion of skills like coding in curriculums, which aim to prepare students for “21st-century” jobs, as a hallmark of the progress she would like to help continue on the board.
Trustee Brian Widman, a Roslyn Heights resident, is also running unopposed, for his third term on the board.