Wednesday, Jul 06th

Scarsdale Bowl Winner Terry Singer Says Volunteering is a Wonderful Way to Meet Like-Minded Neighbors and Friends

TerrySingerMarch2022Terry Singer will be the recipient of Scarsdale’s highest volunteer award, the 2022 Scarsdale Bowl on Thursday night April 28 at Brae Burn Country Club. The entire community is invited to celebrate Terry, along with the 2020 honorees, Jon Mark and BK Munguia and the 2021 honoree Michelle Lichtenberg. Buy your tickets here.

Singer has volunteered in the Scarsdale Schools, the Scarsdale Adult School and at the library, where she was instrumental in the building of Scarsdale’s beautiful new library.

Below see her thoughts on volunteering and all the doors it has opened for her.

For those who don’t know you, tell us something about your family and educational and professional background?

Paul and I have been married for 38 years and lived in Manhattan until moving to Scarsdale in 1989. Our two children, Sarah and Lee, both graduated from SHS, and along with Lee's fiancé Mindy, they all live and work in NYC. I am fortunate to also have my mother Sylvia nearby in White Plains. My undergraduate alma mater is Cornell University, having attended the College of Human Ecology. I then went on to pursue a Master of Architecture degree at the University of Pennsylvania.

My professional career began in NYC, where I worked at several small and large architecture and interior design firms. I worked on various types of buildings, including brownstone renovations, and new apartment and office buildings. Some interesting projects include the restoration of several of the bridges in Central Park, the lobby space of the Chrysler Building, and a ferry terminal at Battery Park City to Hoboken. Since moving to Scarsdale, I have spent a good deal of time applying architectural skills toward community projects, having assisted in various capacities on improvements to the school facilities, Westchester Reform Temple's renovation and sanctuary addition, and the Scarsdale Public Library.

How did you first get involved in volunteer work?

A neighbor was the chairperson of the BAR. We met casually one afternoon while he was walking by our home, and when he heard about my architectural background he encouraged me to join the Board. That was in 1991, and how I originally engaged in local land use.

Several years later, while my daughter was a Heathcote kindergarten student, I was a class mother, and proceeded to get more involved with the PTA. I chaired the After School Clubs before becoming PTA President.

Among your early activities, what were some of the highlights of your work in the schools?

I have particularly fond memories of my Heathcote PTA experience. We had supportive and dedicated parents, teachers and administrators. One of the initiatives I am particularly enthusiastic about was our introduction of Learning to Look as a parent run program. It used to be a Scarsdale Teachers' Institute course and not all teachers had the time or inclination to enroll. This meant only some students were able to benefit from the program. While I was PTA President, we restructured the Learning to Look program so it would be run through the PTA. The program director adapted the lessons to be parent led, and with the amazing support of the parents, teachers and the administration, we transitioned the program to be taught in classrooms throughout the school. That was over 20 years ago, and I understand the program is still running successfully.

At SHS, my work with the PTA Scholarship Fund stands out. I had the opportunity to serve on and chair this committee for several years. Collaborating with compassionate parents who shared the goal of assisting graduating seniors with the financial burdens of their freshman year at college was especially meaningful to me. The SHS PTA Scholarship Fund paves the way for the Scarsdale Foundation, while they support our local students during their later years in college.

Tell us about your work with the Scarsdale Adult School?

The Scarsdale Adult School is extraordinary. Without having physical walls, the school is a community of committed life-long learners. My term on the Board began in 2012, and I became Co-chair in 2020, which was a few months into COVID-19 when people were mostly house bound. This was quite a challenge, as the Board of Trustees, the Executive Committee, the Executive Director and staff, all had to envision how to meet our students' interest to continue attending classes. We met frequently on zoom, tried different virtual course offerings, and had to be both flexible and experimental. It was a true team effort, with Executive Director Jill Serling very much at the helm. Our goal was to offer students learning opportunities and a sense of connection while in pandemic isolation. We were able to develop an online platform, and many of our talented instructors adapted to this format. Local students continued to enroll, and we were able to reach out-of-town students as well. Now with COVID-19 restrictions opening up, we have started in-person classes, and look forward to bringing more people together again. It has been quite a two-year ride!

I have been fortunate to have a wonderful Executive Committee, Board of Trustees, Advisory Committee, and SAS staff. We continue to meet regularly for scheduled meetings and frequently in between to address any issues that arise during the constantly changing COVID-19 environment.

In your leadership roles, what has been your process for resolving conflicts of opinion?

Communication - so much can be resolved when people have an opportunity to express concerns, and when they are confident that their opinions are taken into serious consideration. Whether at a public forum like the BAR or at smaller Board meetings, an open dialogue is so important to enable understanding and acceptable compromises. This is critical to the process of resolving conflicts of opinion, it takes time and often multiple conversations, but it's very important.

Tell us about your role in envisioning, planning and building the Scarsdale Library. What, if anything, surprised you about the process?

I joined the library team as a Community Advisor, to assist the library Board through the programming and pre-schematic phase. As a Board member, I co-chaired the Building Committee, and it was during that time that we engaged an architect, constantly reviewed priorities, responded to designs, monitored the budget, and kept the Community and Village informed. Ultimately, the finalized designs were turned into construction documents followed by a bidding and construction phase. We attended biweekly meetings in the trailer in the library parking lot with the construction manager, the architect and the various contractors. It was many years in the making, but the end result is this wonderful library that residents from Scarsdale and our neighboring towns can benefit from.

The degree to which our Community rallied behind this project was stunning. There was a tremendous display of enthusiasm and commitment. The volunteerism, financial support, Village government and Library staff support all contributed to the success of the project. It is a testament to the uniqueness of our Community.

If you could look into a crystal ball, what are some of your hopes for Scarsdale for the next decade and beyond?Bowl2022A

I hope to see the downtown continue to become more revitalized. Some of the recent enhancements, like the tent, the outdoor dining, and the public art, have been terrific. It would be wonderful to see these types of successes continue into the next decade. I am also enthusiastic about any improvements that can be done to our public outdoor spaces, like the pool and the pond adjacent to the library. Scarsdale has beautiful resources that we should continue to take full advantage of.

What would you say to those who have not yet volunteered to encourage them to jump in?

I suggest getting involved in areas that are of particular interest. I sought out involvements in areas related to education and continuous learning, architecture and land use. But there are organizations, boards and councils that contribute to our community across many spectrums. There is sure to be a rewarding volunteer opportunity, and as a bonus, it is a terrific way to meet wonderful like-minded neighbors and friends.

Celebrate Terry Singer along with Michelle Lichtenberg, Jon Mark and BK Munguia at the Scarsdale Bowl Dinner at Brae Burn Country Club on Thursday April 28. Click here to purchase your tickets.

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