Scarsdale Debaters Are State Champions
- Category: Schools
- Published on 14 April 2016
- Written by Justin Cooper
It's 7:15 am on Saturday, April 9. 55 anxious Scarsdale High School students pile onto a bus headed for Hofstra University. Some are singing, some are mumbling to themselves, and some are dead quiet, staring out the window. Towards the end of the bus ride a freshman confesses to one of the seniors that she is really nervous. "It's good that you're nervous," he assures her. "It means you care."
This past weekend was the New York State Championship for the Scarsdale High School Speech and Debate Team. Students work tirelessly throughout the year in the hopes of qualifying for the State tournament. This year, Scarsdale saw one of its most successful State Championships in history. The debate team took third place overall. The Lincoln-Douglas Resolution for the tournament was, "Resolved: The United States ought to promote democracy in the Middle East." In Novice Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Will Mussoff '19 and Sanjana Bhatnagar '19 both reached the octofinal round (top 16), and in Intermediate Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Natalie Isak '18 reached the semifinal round (top 4). In Varsity Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Scarsdale dominated the field, with Zack Gelles '17 reaching the octofinal round, Gillian Zipursky '17 reaching the quarterfinal round (top 8), Lauren Singer '17 reaching the semifinal round, and Zoe Ewing '17 winning the tournament, becoming the New York State champion in Varsity Lincoln-Douglas Debate.
The speech team on the other hand had its most successful State tournament of all time. For the first time, the speech team won first place overall at the tournament. The team's coach, Joseph Vaughan, said, "After seeing how the category blocks were split up, I was confident that we could win going into the tournament." In JV Prose/Poetry, Lindsay Gelles '19, Kate Levin '19, and Ethan Underweiser '19 reached the quarterfinal round (top 24), Paige Barlow '19 reached the semifinal round (top 12), and Natalie Rosier '18 placed 2nd, missing first place by a very narrow margin. In Original Oratory, Alexander Maddon '17 reached the quarterfinal round.
In Declamation, Natalie Rosier was declared the New York State champion. She is the first Scarsdale High School student to win the State Championship in this event. In Varsity Prose/Poetry, Justin Cooper '16 reached the quarterfinal round, Zach Kapner '17 reached the semifinal round, and Daniel Altabet '16 reached the final round, ultimately placing 5th.
In JV Extemporaneous Speaking, Scarsdale had an amazing showing. Clara Enders '17 reached the quarterfinal round and Niharika Desiraju '19, Ishwar Mukherjee '19, and Dermot Kantor '18 reached the semifinal round. Scarsdale had two finalists in JV Extemporaneous Speaking, and they finished top two overall, with Arjun Ravi '18 placing 2nd and Zoe Landless '18 capturing the title of state champion. This is the third year in a row that Scarsdale has won the JV Extemporaneous Speaking title, with Zach Kapner winning it in 2015 and Justin Cooper winning it in 2014. When asked why Scarsdale is so successful in JV Extemporaneous Speaking, Vaughan said, "We focus heavily on structure while other teams focus more on the news and current events side of Extemp." In other words, while other teams solely work towards building a knowledge base, Scarsdale also focuses on knowing how to apply that knowledge.
In Varsity Extemporaneous Speaking Keshav Rastogi '17 reached the semifinal round. Scarsdale also had two finalists in this event: Zach Kapner and Justin Cooper. Kapner ultimately placed 6th and Cooper placed 1st, becoming the New York State champion in Varsity Extemporaneous Speaking. His question in the final round was: "Is Brazil doing enough to contain the Zika Virus?" He is the first Scarsdale High School student to win this event since 2003.
Even though the State tournament marks the end of the season for most competitors, several Scarsdale High School students are still going. At the end of April, Zack Gelles, Gillian Zipursky, Zoe Ewing, and Samara Jacobson '16 will compete at the Tournament of Champions at the University of Kentucky in Lincoln-Douglas Debate. Additionally, for the first time, several of Scarsdale's speech students have qualified and are attending this tournament. Zach Kapner will be competing in Extemporaneous Speaking and Prose/Poetry, Daniel Altabet will be competing in Humorous Interpretation and Original Oratory, and Justin Cooper will be competing in Extemporaneous Speaking, Prose/Poetry, and Original Oratory. "I don't really know what to expect for how our speech students will do because the judge pool and the competitors are ones we don't normally face," said Vaughan. "I do feel confident that our debaters could clear to outrounds, however." Furthermore, Daniel Altabet will be attending the National Individual Events Tournament of Champions in May, competing in Original Oratory and Humorous Interpretation. He will be Scarsdale's first student to attend this tournament. Also in May, Zach Kapner and Justin Cooper will be attending the Extemporaneous Speaking Tournament of Champions at Northwestern University. Scarsdale is looking for a repeat performance from last year, as Cooper reached the final round in 2015.
To end the year, Scarsdale has two National Championships to look forward to. First, the Catholic Forensics League Grand National Tournament will be held over Memorial Day weekend in Sacramento. Scarsdale has qualified Natalie Rosier and Zoe Landless in Declamation, Zach Kapner, Keshav Rastogi, and Clara Enders in Extemporaneous Speaking, and Justin Cooper in Original Oratory. Then in June, Scarsdale will be flying down to Salt Lake City for the National Speech and Debate Association National Tournament. Scarsdale has qualified Keshav Rastogi and Arjun Ravi in International Extemporaneous Speaking, Zach Kapner and Zoe Landless in Domestic Extemporaneous Speaking, Justin Cooper and Daniel Altabet in Original Oratory, Ismail Ameen in Informative Speaking, and Caroline Kaufman in Dramatic Interpretation. "Our students don't take their talent for granted," Vaughan concluded. "They know how hard they have to work to achieve success at Nationals, and I am confident they will put in that work."
Guide to Debate Terminology:
Prose/Poetry - a 10 minute event where the speaker performs a selection of prose and a selection of poetry, alternating each round between prose and poetry.
Extemporaneous Speaking - a 7 minute event where the speaker has 30 minutes to write and memorize a speech that answers a question about domestic or international current events, without Internet access.
Original Oratory - a 10 minute event where the speaker writes a speech entirely in his or her own words on a topic that he or she is passionate about.
Declamation - a 10 minute event for Freshmen and Sophomores only where the speaker presents a famous speech from the past.
Junior Varsity - freshmen and sophomores only
Varsity - juniors and seniors
New Hires for the District and an Update from the Scarsdale Schools Education Foundation
- Category: Schools
- Published on 06 April 2016
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
The Board had a 6 pm meeting with the Scarsdale Schools Education Foundation preceding the April 4 meeting of the school board. Though we were not able to attend, we asked foundation Executive Director Stephen Seward for an update on the fundraising efforts to raise $2.6 million for a Design Lab and the Fitness Center at Scarsdale High School.
Here is what Seward shared: "We have now raised over $1.6 million toward our capital campaign goal of $2.6 million. While we still have a significant way to go, and will need the help of everyone in Scarsdale to reach our goal, we are confident that we will be able to raise the remaining $1 million and enable the District to build a Design Lab and new Health and Fitness Center. We are grateful to everyone who has pledged their support and especially to those in the community who have hosted house parties to help explain our goals and spread the word. Looking ahead, our plans include launching a community campaign -- including a mailing to all residents to seek their financial support."
Greenacares: The Board has invited architects from KG&D to come to a meeting on April 18 with responses to questions about the options for the Greenacres Elementary School.
New Hires and Appointments:
Interim Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Bernard Josefsberg announced that the district will have a new Superintendent of Human Resources and Leadership Development, beginning July 1, 2016. After an extensive search and selection process the district has offered Andrew "Drew" Patrick the position. He is currently the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Instruction at the Bedford Central Schools, a position he has held since 2008.
Patrick has impressive credentials as an educator and administrator. He began his career as a science teacher at Clarkstown South in 1999 and moved to the Bedford Schools in 2002. From 2004-8 he was Bedford's Science and Technology Coordinator before moving into his present position. He holds a BS from the University of Rochester, a masters in science and geology from the University of South Carolina, a masters in educational leadership from Bank Street College and is currently pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership at Manhattanville College.
Josefsberg called the selection process "vigorous" and repeated a few of the comments that were made by parents, teachers and administrators who interviewed Patrick. He was called, "innovative, honest and practical," with a "strong sense of humanity, warmth and intellectual rigor. "He understands the importance of human capital."
Josefsberg said Patrick has "Wonderful recommendations from those who met him here and from colleagues who have worked with him." Superintendent Thomas Hagerman said "Patrick bring a rich set of skills," and that "Drew resonated with every single group." He added, "I think he is going to be a transformation agent in the district."
Josefberg also announced the following appointments:
Anna Buonanno: Chemistry Teacher at the HS
Merav Harris: Psychologist at the MS
Bill Maldarelli: Social Studies department at the Middle School
Emma Wixted: House Counselor in Popham House, Middle School
Robert Weldon: World Language, High School
Dr. Hagerman then announced a change to policy 5152 which regulates the attendance of non-resident students in the schools. Beginning September 2016, the district will no longer permit the children of interscholastic coaches to attend Scarsdale Schools tuition free.
50 SHS History Students See Hamilton on Broadway
- Category: Schools
- Published on 21 March 2016
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
Though many of their parents can't figure out how to get tickets, 50 lucky SHS juniors who take AT US History got to see the show "Hamilton" on Broadway and meet the set designer last Wednesday. Teacher Adam Weisler saw the show in September and was "simply astonished, by its energy, by how completely engrossing it was, and (as a history teacher) by the innovative genius it took to transform what many might consider to be less-than-scintillating historical events (for example, the negotiations over the federal government's assumption of state debts after the American Revolution) into extraordinary entertainment."
In 2014 Weisler took his AT U.S. History students to see Bryan Cranston in "All the Way", about a key period in the life of Lyndon Johnson. As Cranston had just completed "Breaking Bad", many of the students were quite familiar with him. The show was wonderful, the kids enjoyed it, and it set the stage for a terrific conversation in class the next day about the historical events it portrayed.
So after he saw Hamilton, he reached out to the group sales manager at the Nederlander Theatre who agreed to hold a block of 50 tickets for a March matinee. Weisler "got terrific cooperation from Assistant Principals Sue Peppers and Chris Renino at the high school who, by email in early July, approved the trip, and checked that the date I had in mind posed no conflict with the school calendar for the coming year."
This is Weisler's third year teaching AT US History where the class spends a considerable amount of time on Alexander Hamilton, so he didn't need to make any adjustments to the curriculum in anticipation of the trip in March.
According to Weisler, "We discuss Hamilton in the classroom as an individual (his compelling personal biography, which I became familiar with in detail in 2004, when the now-famous biography of Hamilton by Ron Chernow, upon which the show is based, was published), as a party leader, and as a financial visionary. And students read rather comprehensively about Alexander Hamilton in chapters from two Pulitzer-Prize winning books."
"We read several chapters from Chernow's "Washington, a Life" which, in profiling Washington as President, discusses Hamilton, his work as Treasury Secretary and his rivalry with Thomas Jefferson. Students also read a chapter on Hamilton's duel with Aaron Burr in the book "Founding Brothers" by the historian Joseph Ellis. To say that I did not know when I bought the tickets in July and outlined the trip for my students in September exactly what kind of cultural phenomenon "Hamilton" would become in the months leading up to our March 16th matinee would be a colossal understatement. I had absolutely no idea! We were simply very, very lucky to have secured the tickets when we did.
Consequently, between the accolades the show has received and the buzz that has surrounded it around it, by the time March 16th arrived we had a bus filled with extraordinarily excited kids, and two very happy parent chaperones who joined us as well.
Janet Korins, the mother of one of the students in our group (Caroline Kaufman) has a cousin, David Korins, who was the set designer for "Hamilton." I corresponded with Janet during the weeks leading up to March 16th and she said that David was aware that our group was coming (I told her where our seats were) and that, although he was busy at work on another show, he would do his best to meet our group.
When the show ended, David came up to our seats, said a quick hello to Caroline, and introduced himself to me, so that I could introduce him to the students. He was incredibly kind and gracious, spending twenty minutes in "Q and A" (which I understand the people on Broadway call a "talk-back") explaining to the students how he came to work on the show, the process (including meticulous historical research) by which the sets were created, some of the key features of the set and the reason for them, and answering more general questions about the overall production.
We spent the next day in class discussing and reflecting on what we had seen the day before. I showed students the "60 Minutes" profile of Lin-Manuel Miranda (which, concerned that we might see his understudy, I hadn't shown them prior to our trip) and the cast's recent appearance at the White House, and opened the floor to questions and subsequent discussion about the history we had seen portrayed in "Hamilton," as we recalled the ways in which the show dramatized individuals and events we had covered in the course earlier in the year.
As I told the students, I had already seen the show, so the real joy and privilege for me as a teacher on March 16th was not so much the show itself, but seeing in their faces - before, during, and after "Hamilton" - how genuinely excited they were to have the experience. That was wonderful!"
Magic Numbers: School Budget to Come In Under Tax Cap
- Category: Schools
- Published on 31 March 2016
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
Gone are the days of the 5% school tax increase. The proposed Scarsdale School budget for 2016-17 will come in below the tax cap. The $150,207,366 budget is $2.1 million higher than the 2015-16 school budget, but will only cause a .63% increase to tax payers, which is below the adjusted tax cap of .81%.
According to School Superintendent Thomas Hagerman and School Board President Lee Maude, planning the budget was a collaborative process between the administration and the school board. Commenting at a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale on Tuesday March 29, Board member Bill Natbony commented, "It's a refreshing process .... we are all on one team."
Though the tax increase is low, the budget includes funds for new staff, new initiatives and improvements to district facilities.
What went into reducing the budget increase? Factors included decreases in the budget for utilities and the phone system, retirements of longtime teachers and administrators and lower contributions to benefit and retirement plans. The district's contribution to the Employee Retirement System will go down from 18.12% of salary in in 2015-16 to approximately 15% and contributions to the Teachers' Retirement System will go down 11.6%, from 13.26% in 2015-16 to 11.72% next year. The decreases will save the district $476,319 and are a result of more favorable investment returns for the funds.
Though the school population is estimated to go down by 6 students from 4,808 to 4,802, additional teachers and staff will be hired.
Here's the breakdown:
2 new elementary school teachers to accommodate enrollment changes
1 new teacher for elementary school language instruction
1 world language teacher at the middle school
1 pre-engineering teacher to support the new STEAM curriculum at the high school
1 special education teacher, a psychologist and an aide to staff a new program for students with emotional disabilities at the high school.
1 physical education teacher at the high school
.2 position to teach English as a new language.
Overall, there will be a total of 10.4 new additions to the professional staff, with 8.8 teachers. The budget shows that the 8.8 new teachers will cost the district $913,000 or $103,750 each. In addition to the new additions, the district will need to replace19 members of the professional staff who have announced their retirements at the end of the school year. The new emotional disabilities program is expected to allow more students to receive services at the school rather than go outside.
The total budget for plant improvements is $2,620,240 and includes the following projects for the 2016-17 school year:
Repair of stairs at southwest entrance
Upgrade of the fire alarm system
Replacement of the bleachers
Upgrades to the music room that were not funded by the bond offering
Bus Depot: Replace fencing and repave parking area
District wide repaving, roofing and masonry work
Here is a chart of the costs: (page 30)
The district is also planning a major renovation at the high school and several other district schools to be funded by an $18.2 million bond that was approved by the community in December 2014. Additional funding will come from the Scarsdale Schools Foundation who is seeking to raise $2.6 mm for a Design Lab and Fitness Center at SHS. The district is still waiting for approvals from the NYS Education Department to begin the construction, but hopes to start this summer. According to a report from Ass't Superintendent Stuart Mattey, some of the projects in the original scope of work will be deferred or cut. He said, "Because preliminary bids for these projects have come back over budget, some smaller pieces of the projects had to be scaled back or deferred, including auditorium and kitchen renovations and receiving area reconfiguration at the High School, music room renovations at the Middle School, and a portion of the Heathcote renovation."
Here are some other items included in the proposed 2016-17 school budget:
- $400,772 in special funding for staff and curricular development for program improvement
- $50,000 for the Center for Innovation
- $275,410 for Professional Development
- $60,000 for sustainability initiatives and school gardens.
Funding for the Teen Center is maintained at $65,000.
Fund Balance, Reserves and Surplus
For those who are concerned about the undesignated fund balance, it is projected to be close to the state maximum level of 4% or $3.75 million. The fund balance is used for "protection against unanticipated deficits from the self-insured health plan, and an additional $1.65 million infusion into the tax certiorari reserve to insulate the District against a high number of potential tax certiorari proceedings." In past budget seasons, the district was challenged by some who thought the reserves were too high. However, Ass't Superintendent Mattey reported that this year the district received a letter from a rating agency expressing concern about the level of reserves, so Scarsdale is watching it closely.
And following a decision from the Governor, Scarsdale once again can maintain a Health Insurance Reserve for the district's self-insured health plan. That will be funded at $3.75 million. An analysis included in the budget shows that the self-insured plan has saved the district an estimated $8,000,904 over the Empire Plan over the last five years. See page 139 of the budget.
$1.1 million in surplus funds from the 2015-16 budget will assigned as revenue in 2016-17 to reduce a tax increase.
The entire budget can be reviewed here.
Mark your calendars to remember to vote on Tuesday May 17th.
Committee Nominates Maude, Natbony and Cannon for Scarsdale School Board
- Category: Schools
- Published on 15 March 2016
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
The Scarsdale School Board Nominating Committee has announced their nominees for election to the Scarsdale School Board of Education; they are Leila Maude, William Natbony, and Nina Ledis Cannon. If elected on May 17, 2016, Maude and Natbony will be returning to the School Board for second three-year terms. Cannon will fill the seat vacated by Suzanne Seiden, who is completing her second and final term on the Board at the end of this school year. New trustees assume their roles effective July 1.
This year the SBNC was led by Chair John Spiro and Vice Chair Jeannine Palermo. The SBNC is comprised of 30 voting members and 4 non-voting members, all of whom are residents of the Scarsdale School District. The thirty voting members serve staggered 3-year terms and are elected directly by the residents of their election units, which correspond to the five elementary school neighborhoods. The 4 non-voting members consist of a Chair and Vice Chair who are selected from the previous year's graduating voting members, and one appointee each from the Scarsdale Forum and the Confederation of Scarsdale Neighborhood Association Presidents (SNAP). Collectively, the SBNC undertakes the process of recruiting and vetting prospective candidates to serve as trustees on the Board of Education.
Over the course of Sunday meetings between January and March, this year's SBNC interviewed and conducted due diligence on all applicants. Through discussion and careful consideration, and pursuant to the SBNC Resolution, the SBNC then judged and selected individuals "solely on their qualifications to serve the community."
For more information on the SBNC, including the governing Resolution, information on the nonpartisan system, and a list of the current SBNC members, please visit the SBNC website here:
Here's some information on the candidates:
Leila Maude, Current President of the Scarsdale Board of Education
Here is a statement from Lee Maude: I am honored to have been nominated for a second term on the Scarsdale Board of Education. Serving on this Board has been very rewarding and always thought-provoking as we take on many challenges facing our District. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with my fellow board members, the District faculty and administration. This year the Board had has an opportunity to visit each of the schools and observe teaching and learning in action. It is very important that we remain focused on this as our ultimate goal in leading the Scarsdale School District.
Clearly the highlight of my first term was the hiring of Dr. Thomas Hagerman and observing and participating in his entry to the School District. As we know, Scarsdale is a high-performing district. Dr. Hagerman has introduced a Scarsdale Transition Plan that is focused on keeping Scarsdale at the forefront of public education. Here are some of the other accomplishments of the Administration, Faculty and Board over the last three years:
- We passed an $18.12MM bond referendum with an 86% approval. Proceeds will be used to create a Learning Commons and Design Lab in the High School, a new orchestra rehearsal space in the Middle School, a new Library and office in the Edgewood elementary school and an additional multipurpose room in the Heathcote elementary school.
- Next year the Scarsdale High School will be rolling out the first year of STEAM-sequence classes (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) as part of a continuum of STEAM classes for our new Design Lab.
- We have also added two English Language Arts helping teachers to serve the elementary schools and reading specialists to help our youngest readers.
- This is the first year that all our elementary schools are using the same curriculum for writing -- the Teachers College Writing Workshop. It was a challenging curriculum to implement and we thank all the elementary school teachers for taking on this new endeavor. It is very rewarding to see this district embrace change and move forward.
- Next year the 6th grade world language program will be increased from every other day in the first half of the year to every day in order to allow additional time for conversation.
Over the next three years, I look forward to working with Dr. Hagerman and the Board on the Scarsdale Transition plan. Dr. Hagerman has been able to implement new programs and staffing without adding significant dollars to our school budget (and, in fact, there was a budget decrease last year). As a Board member it is gratifying to see improvements made that do not necessarily result in additional expenses.
One of the District's challenges over the next 10 years will be to create and fund a master plan that addresses all of our facilities. This effort is long overdue and we hope to be able to accomplish this with little or no increase in taxes.
Finally, I would like to add that the Board began a partnership with the faculty two years ago to repair our frayed relationship after the last STA contract was signed. We have been meeting as a group and individually with members of the STA leadership and we have learned much about their issues and their work.
As a Board we committed ourselves this year to listen to the community. The community dialogue for the most part has been informative and respectful. We do value the opinions of residents and hope they understand that we cannot address all issues in any one year and to be patient, informed and involved. We as a Board believe that focusing on our goals in the Scarsdale Transition Plan will ensure a more successful future for all of us.
William Natbony, Current Member of the Scarsdale Board of Education
Tell us about your background:
Public school education has always been an extremely important part of my life. I am the proud product of a public school education through 12th Grade, having attended PS 40, JHS 104 and the High School for Performing Arts (made famous in the movie "Fame") in New York City. I graduated from Princeton University in 1980, majoring in economics, and obtained my law degree from Georgetown thereafter. Through the Justice Resource Center in New York City and through my extensive pro bono activities relating to education, I have taught in public school classrooms, served as mentor and coach to hundreds of public high school students over the years, and designed and implemented programs that partner corporate and governmental entities with public schools to enhance programs within the public school system.
I have lived in Scarsdale for more than twenty years and, with my wife Cheryl, have raised four children here, each of whom has benefitted greatly from the fine education that Scarsdale's public schools provide, with one child still in the High School. In that regard, I have seen it all and experienced it all within our schools. From a different perspective, I will soon be an empty nester, except for my dog Molly.
Aside from my passion for public school education generally, my education, professional and community service experience have provided me with certain tools and lessons that have been, and will continue to be, of great use as a School Board Member. Having been a litigator and attorney to numerous corporate and not for profit organizations, I have been involved in searches for Chief Executive Officers, attended numerous Board meetings and provided day to day advice on governance, financial, legal and operational issues raised before such Boards. In Scarsdale, I have previously served on the Board and as President of Little League, with responsibility for the development of policy, budgeting and programs. As a Parks and Recreation Council member, and Chairman for several years, I had the opportunity to deal with budget issues, development of broad policy, and the resolution of numerous issues raised with great emotion by parents, children, and representatives of Independent Sports Organizations. I also have served on the Scarsdale Bowl Committee.
What were some of the highlights of your first term?
During my service, with my active participation, the Board has worked its way through several successful and thoughtful budgets, and developed an evaluation of our facilities' needs and a capital program initiative culminating with a successful bond vote to provide facilities essential for 21st century learning. We have also reconstructed the debate over how to address the Greenacres School to provide for more constructive community input. During the same period the Board has strengthened curriculum in reading and STEAM programs has focused on possible World Language modifications. The Board also concluded successful searches for new key administrative positions, including our new Superintendent, Thomas Hagerman.
If I had to choose one significant accomplishment, in which I have had a significant role, I would point to a marked improvement in the dialogue and information flow to our community. Whether the issues are budgetary, curriculum, process or other, I think we as a Board have nurtured a reputation as listeners and independent thinkers open to creative solutions. As a Board member, there remains the ever-present need to balance the needs and desires of often seemingly competing interests -- but the key questions remain -- what is "right", and what is "fair" given the goals of our flagship educational programs. To answer those questions, listening and having a real dialogue with our community, the School Administration and staff, untainted by personal or professional bias, is essential.
Over these past three years, I am very proud of the significant progress our Board has made in insuring open and meaningful dialogues with all those who have an interest in what we do. Regular visits to classrooms by Board members, answering every written communication we receive with substantially more than a pro-forma response, increased and enhanced collaboration and partnership with the District Administrative Cabinet through the implementation of detailed transition plans and portfolio groups, and a focus on civility and listening at our meetings and otherwise, have all resulted in a truly collaborative and cohesive effort to do what is right for our community and our students, which is the ultimate goal. Additionally, over the past three years, at various times, I have served as the Board's liaison to entities such as the Center for Innovation, the Scarsdale Teen Center, the Scarsdale Schools Education Foundation, the Village Committee on Youth, and the Village Advisory Committee relating to senior citizens, keeping those lines of communication open and vibrant. However, I don't think anyone on our Board sees the work we do, or our accomplishments, as individual in nature; they are the result of working together and listening. I am excited about the prospect of doing and listening even more together over the next three years.
What do you most enjoy about serving on the Board of Education?
Serving on the School Board has allowed me the opportunity to collaborate with so many other talented and dedicated community volunteers and School Administrators and staff as we strive to achieve the common goals of preserving and enhancing our schools. Touring the classrooms in our schools and actually seeing the results of our collaborative efforts have been the most enjoyable moments over the past few years. After all, in the end, what we do has the most impact on our children and their ultimate happiness and success.
What do you see as the challenges facing the Scarsdale Schools?
There are a number of challenges our School District, and thus the School Board, will face over the next few years. We will need to continue preserving and enhancing our educational programs while balancing the need for fiscal prudence. We will need to move forward with the community and District Administration on essential capital improvement programs, including deciding how to address the needs of the Greenacres Elementary School in a manner that provides an updated learning environment and preserves important open space. We will need to continue looking at ways to innovate in terms of programs and process while maintaining the integrity of our cherished liberal arts education. Finally, we will need to continue exploring ways to minimize the stress levels of our students while balancing the necessity of an academically rigorous program.
Anything else to share?
I want to take this opportunity to thank the members of the SBNC for their trust in re-nominating me to the School Board. If elected, I will continue to serve with an open ear, an open mind and with dedication to serving the goals of our community and the interests of our children.
Nina Ledis Cannon, New nominee for the Scarsdale Board of Education
Nina Ledis Cannon is currently on the faculty of Hunter College as the Pre-Health Professional Schools Application Advisor where she assists seniors applying to graduate schools in the health professions with their personal statements, applications, and committee letters. Ms. Cannon also provides college essay and advising services to high school seniors in the tri-state region. She volunteers her college essay and advising services to juniors and seniors at the Harlem Village Academies, a New York City charter school. In addition, Ms. Cannon works in the publishing industry as a freelance copy editor for Penguin Random House and Macmillan, as well as other publishing concerns. Prior to her involvement in the fields of education and publishing, Ms. Cannon was a corporate attorney for ten years at several large New York based law firms. Since moving to Scarsdale in 1992, she has participated in a variety of school and community programs including running the afterschool clubs program at Greenacres Elementary School, serving as environment chair of the Scarsdale League of Women Voters, committee member for the Fox Meadow PTA Fundraiser, parent coordinator for the Scarsdale High School Varsity Raiders, and Benefit Committee member of the Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling Service. Ms. Cannon graduated summa cum laude with honors in political science from Dickinson College and received her juris doctorate degree from Duke University School of Law. She also received her Certificate in Copyediting from the New York University School of Continuing Education. Ms. Cannon and her husband David, a Scarsdale native, have three children who all attended the Scarsdale schools and went on to matriculate at MIT, Princeton University, and Bucknell University.
Why did you decide to put your name in for this position?
I decided to seek a position on the Scarsdale Board of Education because of my passion for education and student welfare and because I believe in the importance of maintaining the high-quality standards of academic learning in the Scarsdale Schools for all students at all levels in the community.
What do you hope to experience or accomplish?
I hope to gain closer connections to members of the community and to collaborate and build consensus with the other school board members in order to approve policies that create positive, forward thinking, and lasting changes for our Scarsdale Schools for the benefit of all students.
What do you see as the main challenges facing the Scarsdale Schools?
I see the main challenges facing the Scarsdale Schools as balancing the necessity to produce a curriculum that will meet the demands of preparing students for twenty-first century learning, and becoming productive citizens in a global community, with the continued importance of developing the critical thinking and analytical skills that can only be achieved through exposure to the liberal arts.
Note to those who wish to comment: Please refrain from making derisive comments and include your name and street address. Thank you!