I grew up in the great community of Fort Greene, Brooklyn and graduated from Brooklyn Technical HS. I knew I wanted to pursue a career in science. My guidance counselor thought I should “try it out” at a two-year college, even though I was a chemistry major with a good GPA. I am glad my parents saw things differently and shipped me off to a four-year college. Several years later, I graduated with a Ph.D. in pathology. And a few months before my dissertation, expecting my first child, I moved to Maplewood. I remember being attracted in particular by the schools and almost immediately decided I wanted to give back and to help students. So, in 1999, I founded a science and tutorial center in Maplewood, while also working as a scientist in the pharmaceutical industry .
My kids have grown up in these schools and I have been a board member here for six years, and I know it’s a good district. Many students are thriving; good teachers and effective programs expose students to a rich curriculum and offer them the opportunity to excel. So you may ask, why the motto, “Making good schools better? “ Because good is not good enough; too many kids in the district do not achieve as they ought; too many parents are frustrated and feel they must fight to get the best education for their children. Although nearly all our graduates go to college, the latest reports show that less than half graduate within six years. We can do better. We must focus on creating an effective educational system and on exposing all students to an engaging and rich curriculum. We need to ensure that at the end of their time in our schools, our kids are better prepared for college. That’s what great school districts do. In my industry, virtually every job requires a college degree. We are living in a country where a college degree is highly correlated to personal and financial independence. Isn’t that what we want for our children — to be confident and independent?
In my two terms, we’ve done a great deal to improve the schools. I voted to implement full day kindergarten, to overhaul our Language Arts curriculum, to introduce Singapore math in grades K-5, to institute step-up programs at Columbia HS, to introduce more effective teacher evaluations and greater use of Power School to improve parental engagement; and through it all we have seen a continuing rise in standardized test scores.
Despite all that progress, there is more to do.
I am running for a third term to oversee the effective implementation of the level-up initiatives at our secondary schools, with pre-defined goals to measure success; I will work to improve the school climate at Columbia HS, to enhance the science programs at the elementary schools and to improve board/community engagement and communications.