Question 3 of 20 for 2020 NRBOE Candidates: Skills & Experience?

Written By: Robert Cox
  1. What are the skills and experiences you will bring to the school board, if elected?

Adina Berrios Brooks: I grew up and graduated from public high school in Bridgeport, CT, a town not unlike New Rochelle in its racial, ethnic and socioeconomic diversity. Even as a high school student I was engaged in community service including developing programming for my peers on a regional youth advisory board. As a college student at Columbia University I worked at an afterschool program in Central Harlem and was part of a successful effort to create an Ethnic Studies program. Right after graduation, I also taught English for a year in Japan. These experiences were early building blocks of a strong foundation for service on the school board of a highly diverse school district.

My early career experiences included an organizing position with the Children’s Defense Fund-New York, working on children’s health advocacy with community organizations across New York State. Later in my career, I participated in campaigns to raise New York State’s minimum wage and reform the Rockefeller Drug Laws. These experiences gave me important first-hand involvement in handling complex public issues and reinforced my appreciation of the power of community organizing and the impact of public policy on people’s lives.

As an undergraduate, I was an Urban Studies major at Columbia University. For the past four years, I have worked in the Office of the Provost, focusing on faculty diversity, inclusion and faculty development. Along the way, I received a master’s degree in Politics and Education and have completed my doctoral coursework in Education Policy, all at Teachers College. My education and experience have well-equipped me to participate meaningfully in school board meetings over the past year, as they provide a valuable frame of reference and an insider perspective. As an administrator in higher education, charged with developing inclusion and diversity, I would be able to identify the school district’s assets as well as areas for improvement, forming solutions and suggesting changes in real time.

Katie Castellano Minaya: I am a mother, teacher, and advocate for children. I am a public school teacher as well as an experienced education technology consultant, Director of Operations, and director of family literacy programs. I also have strong connections in the New Rochelle community that would enable me to better represent the needs of ALL our students and families (Girl Scouts, Advisory Committee on Immigrant Affairs, Ward PTA, New RoAR, New Beginnings Dance Studio). Above all, I bring positivity, solutions, teamwork, and the ability to bring people together. In my various roles as Director of Operations, teacher leader, founding Dean of Culture and Community, and UFT chapter leader, I was charged with many of the same skills that would help our BOE increase family involvement and strengthen connections to the community. I have regularly led school culture initiatives by planning family conferences, back-to-school nights, Ward Readathon PJ Storytime, a family literacy Title III program, and community-based events. As Director of Operations at Harlem Village Academies, I built and maintained strong relationships within school and surrounding community partners, including co-located middle and high schools, YMCA Harlem after-school program, Beacon Community Center, and the Asphalt Green swimming program. I also have consistently and effectively created systems of communication between family, staff, students, and community partners, such as bilingual family newsletters, blogs, and social media. I will help be a champion for our school district to improve our community standing and improve our relationships with families, especially those that have felt isolated and marginalized. Finally, my perspective as a teacher of inclusive education will help me advocate for all children, throughout the district.

Barbara D’Alois: As both a teacher and a parent my job is communication. I have collaborated with teachers, related service providers, administrators and parents to assure the most appropriate path for each and every student. It is crucial to provide our students with the tools needed to be successful in whatever future they choose. As important as it is to provide these tools, it is equally important to assure that our students are provided the proper environment. A safe and nurturing environment is a prerequisite if we want our students to take advantage of the outstanding education and services that we provide. I feel that I am particularly qualified to bring people together and move this attitude forward based on my experience in doing exactly that for over 2 decades. #NewRoStrong must be more than just a lawn sign. We are obliged to come together, to bring out the best in our community, and celebrate the children that are New Rochelle’s future.

Christopher Daniello:Did not answer.

Stephen A. DiDonato: As a Parent of three daughters who have been a product of the New Rochelle School District and Proud of their success thanks to the education they received from our very schools here in New Rochelle , I want to help other children achieve what my children have achieved. I am a tax paying homeowner who would be mindful of what and where the monies collected for the schools go and after my experience as the President and Vice president of the Glenwood Lake association nestled in the Webster Magnet School area I value the ability to deliver what is equal and fair to all the students. My 15 years as an electrician at NBC I was part of a maintenance team providing services to our clients in all aspects of the business from Studio to Viewers with the value of the truth being number one in what the people expect and should receive.

Sharon D. Footes: My Command Sergeant Major said to me,”Footes, your skills are your willingness and commitment to the task.” I believe that then and it rings true now.These would be the skills and experience I bring to the Board.

Matthew T. Hirschman: I was the board president for my Co-op. I hope to bring a fresh level headed perspective to the board. I’m not afraid to ask questions. Questions when I do not know the answer, and questions that others would be too intimidated to ask.

Michael Leone: The roles of a Board of Ed member are narrowly proscribed: (1) to review and approve the budget, (2) to hire and oversee the Superintendent, and (3) to make policies to help administrators and teachers to achieve the district’s mission. I bring sorely needed business, 26 years, and Board experience, 9 years, to the table.

Timothy McKnight: If elected for the school board, I would utilize my direct relationship and first hand experiences with the underserved, low-­‐income community to increase community engagement. I would use my knowledge of program development and network of community partnerships to increase opportunities and services for minority students. I would also be the glue to forge relationships between the City of New Rochelle, the New Rochelle School District and the Community in order to better the student’s educational journey.

Mario A. Scarano: Being a resident of New Rochelle for 65 years I spent 12 years as a student in the New Rochelle City School District. I began my professional career as a teacher and a coach. I then became an administrator in the district. I believe not only do I have the skills and experience, but also the leadership needed to make the necessary changes at this time.

Julia Taylor: I am a former teacher, assistant principal, and currently a Teacher Development Evaluation Coach. As a school board member, I believe my professional experience, as well as my perspective, would enable me to understand and work effectively on many levels. For example, as a parent myself, I empathize and understand the challenges faced by parents/guardians today. I also have a firm grip and understanding of the many issues we confront as school administrators and teachers.

Also, I firmly believe in the importance of a community that can work together to achieve positive outcomes. As a school board member, my unique qualifications and experience enhance my ability to work on behalf of all involved. My dedication and drive are grounded in my firm belief that each and every one of us is entitled to the best possible education possible and I am enthusiastic and willing to devote my energies to working with other board members.

Donald Vega: This should have been the first question. I am first a parent in New Rochelle with a child in the system for more than 10 years, with 4+ more to go. A resident for 20+ years.  More than 20 years of business experience in project and budget management. Someone who believes in results and accountability. Someone not interested in using this board for career or political aspirations.