2013-05-15 / Schools

Board of Education Candidate Profiles


Derek D. DuBois, MD Derek D. DuBois, MD Garrison

Derek D. DuBois, MD

Full Name: Derek D. DuBois, MD

Resident of: Garrison

For how many years: 2

Family: Wife: Marit Mc- Cabe; Children: Ava (10), Declan (6), Magnus (4), Dog: Buttercup

Current occupation: Management Consultant, McKinsey & Company

1) Why do you want to serve on the Garrison school board and what can you bring to the table? Be specific.

GUFS has the ingredients to be a great school – a closeknit, involved parent community, a faculty of caring teachers and administrators, a small student body, a beautiful setting and terrific facilities. It has a strong track record of performance and has won Blue Ribbon status.

By any measure GUFS is a good school. I believe it can be a great school – one that goes beyond state requirements and teaches children to think for themselves, to solve ambiguous problems, to successfully navigate an uncertain world and to succeed in a knowledge driven economy.

This would obviously benefit the parents and students but would also enhance property values, stabilize enrollment and keep taxes stable.

In my work I advise corporations, investment funds and educational institutions on how to improve their financial and operational performance. I have deep familiarity with board and governance processes and with effectively influencing leaders to drive change.

2) What do you think are the three biggest challenges facing NY State school districts today?

State aid cuts obviously challenge school budgets. Fortunately state aid is under 10% of the GUFS budget. I am optimistic that prudent fiscal management and stabilizing enrollment (state aid is linked to enrollment) can address this challenge without undue taxpayer burden.

Curricular and Testing mandates are more fundamental challenges. They create proscriptive requirements and a hamster wheel of test preparation that focuses more on covering specific facts and formulas than engaging children in thinking and solving problems for themselves. They also limit the flexibility that our faculty has to truly engage children in learning. Frankly they are more designed to ensure poor schools are at least adequate than to help already good schools to be great. We need to meet these requirements but I believe we need to empower and encourage our faculty to embrace a more creative and integrated approach in their conveyance of the required core curriculum.

3) What would you like to see happening at Garrison that is not currently taking place, and how would you achieve it?

We do not need to re-invent the wheel to move forward. Hundreds of educators are working to define and evaluate teaching approaches that cover requirements and engage children more effectively in thinking, in learning and in integrating concepts across “subjects.” I was one of the parents who proposed a task force that recently launched to study, learn from and adapt best practices in education.

I suggest that we rapidly build on these lessons to adapt our current approaches and augment the professional development for our faculty to include the latest and most effective methodologies.

We need to define and implement a clear vision for how to integrate technology more effectively into learning – and ideally to integrate other resources such as the school forest into the day to day learning.

This does not require substantial investment in books in equipment or in facilities. It does require leadership, vision and motivation.


Charlotte Snow Rowe Charlotte Snow Rowe

Charlotte Snow Rowe

Full Name: Charlotte Snow Rowe

Resident of: Garrison

For how many years: 7 years

Family: My husband and I have three children at Garrison School, in the fifth and second grades, and kindergarten.

Current occupation: I’m a marketing professional at a NYC-based consulting firm.

1) Why do you want to serve on the Garrison school board and what can you bring to the table? Be specific.

I would like to continue in my second term to play a constructive role in our community’s shared educational goals. I bring three years of experience as a board member listening to and acting on the concerns of parents, community members, the administration and faculty members. I’ve organized school-wide events, taught middle-school electives and reported on school programs and activities. I have professional communication skills and broad involvement in the Garrison community.

2) What do you think are the three biggest challenges facing NY State school districts today?

Based on my experience as a member of the board, the three biggest challenges facing New York public school districts are state mandates, state mandates and state mandates. All of our school’s hot topics revolve around the issue of how to integrate local vision—whether related to how teachers are evaluated, how students are assessed, how and what students are taught, and what our taxpayers fund—into the legal parameters dictated at the state level, especially in the areas of testing, curriculums and cost shifting. How do we maintain value in public school education? How do we keep the Garrison School reflective of Garrison?

3) What would you like to see happening at Garrison that is not currently taking place, and how would you achieve it?

I would like to see strengthened protocols for responding to the individual needs of each child, whether he or she needs extra help or extra challenge; more creative use of technology that integrates new tools into our educational plans; and a more clearly articulated framework for the Garrison School curriculum that takes into account not only state mandates but also local vision. If re-elected, I would continue to work toward these goals by advocating for better teacher-parent communication and deeper differentiated learning resources; serving on the technology task force and sharing my related professional expertise; and getting items like the upcoming inquirybased learning discussion on the board meeting agenda. If parents and community members are talking about something, then their school board should be too.


Julia Bellrose Wynn Julia Bellrose Wynn

Julia Bellrose Wynn

Full Name: Julia Bellrose Wynn

Resident of: Garrison

For how many years: 1

Family: My husband, Paul, my son James, and daughter Emily

Current occupation: Stay-at-home mother

1) Why do you want to serve on the Garrison school board and what can you bring to the table? Be specific.

After moving to Garrison, we quickly realized that GUFS is the heart of the community and benefits from a nurturing and engaged group of parents and school staff. We are committed to sending our children through GUFS and knowing that growth does not happen overnight, I feel it is important to become as active as possible in the decisions that will affect our school today and down the line. A first-rate education is one of the best gifts we can give our children. Graduating from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland has allowed me to witness first hand different educational styles from various countries and see what our children face competing in a global economy. I want to draw on that experience to enhance our offerings. Listening to the community, being mindful of budgetary constraints, and working within the framework of a Board are all skills I developed while serving as President for a few years on a Condo Board.

2) What do you think are the three biggest challenges facing NY State school districts today?

Trying to maintain and enrich the quality of education while complying with increased state mandates, decreased state and federal aid and a state-mandated 2% tax cap is a delicate Houdini-like balancing act. Thankfully we have an administration that has done their best to look forward and as a result we are not in as bad of a position as some other school districts. To continue to keep taxes low and as aid decreases, it is up to our community to find creative ways to fund new initiatives that we feel are beneficial to our children.

3) What would you like to see happening at Garrison that is not currently taking place, and how would you achieve it?

As societies become more interconnected, multilingual tech-savvy individuals will have greater opportunities. Not only does earlier language training lead to better long-term absorption, but studies have shown it to have many cognitive benefits as well. I would like to investigate the feasibility of introducing Spanish starting in Kindergarten. Being mindful of budget, one way of achieving this would be to hire a part-time, not full-time, Spanish teacher to compliment what GUFS already offers. Technology is a cornerstone of our global economy and will only grow in importance in the years to come. According to code.org, 1 million of the best jobs in America may go unfilled in future years because only 1 in 10 schools in the country teach their students to code. I would like to see this taught at GUFS and would actively look for grant money to help fund both initiatives.


Jennifer Daly Jennifer Daly

Haldane

Jennifer Daly

Full Name: Jennifer Daly

Resident of: Cold Spring

For how many years: 1 year

Family: Husband, Chris Daly, Son, Everett Daly

Current occupation: Entrepreneur, Small Business Consultant, Educator, Gyrotonic Master Trainer

1) Why do you want to serve on the Haldane school board and what can you bring to the table? Be specific.

I am interested in serving on the Haldane school board because we are at a critical moment in our district’s trajectory. We are facing huge financial challenges that will change the landscape of our prestigious school unless we are proactive, creative, and disciplined. I believe my experience founding, building, and recently selling my own business provides me with a skill set that can be an asset to our school board. I ushered my business through the '08/'09 recession and we came out a stronger company in 2010. I have worked through budgets, hiring and mentoring staff, and contract negotiations. Further, my experience as a tenured dance teacher in the public schools allows me insight to know what our students, teachers, and administrators need to be successful. I believe my balanced, fresh, and effective approach to problem solving will contribute to keeping our schools moving forward in the difficult times ahead.

2) What do you think are the three biggest challenges facing NY State school districts today?

The three biggest challenges facing New York school districts today, and our district in particular, all relate to doing more with less. The “less” being decreasing state aid and decreased tax growth related to the property tax cap. The “more” being threefold. First, having to deal with an ever increasing list of state mandates. Second, continuing to invest in the technologies, tools, and skill development areas that our children will need to compete effectively in higher education and the job market. Third, needing to negotiate contracts that build value with our teachers, administrators, civil services, and Superintendents without burdening our taxpayers. And these challenges are not just about the now. Decisions made soon on union contracts, the next superintendent, or what technologies to invest in will reverberate for 5 or 10 years. We need a board of education that has a balance of vision between the immediate and the future.

3) What would you like to see happening at Haldane that is not currently taking place, and how would you achieve it?

I believe there is much to be impressed by at Haldane and there is not a long list of things to change. Rather, we should make a commitment to insure all of the positive things do not change. We want our schools to continue to succeed and to be an example to others. Our PTA and community has proven that advocacy and letter writing campaigns truly do work. I would like to see more of that, and frankly, we need to see more of it in order to help State officials recognize the damage their choices are making to our schools. The board needs to inspire and organize our community to continue to get involved, relentlessly and consistently. We need our School Board to communicate effectively, transparently, and continually with our community so that everyone truly understands the issues we face and pulls together to keep our schools thriving.


Gillian Thorpe Gillian Thorpe

Gillian Thorpe

Full Name: Gillian Faith Robertson Thorpe

Resident of: Cold Spring

For how many years: Lifetime resident; living in VA for college and Glen Ellyn, IL, for 3 years due to a job transfer

Family: Three sons, Reid (19), Kiefer (17), Wilson (13)

Current occupation: Director of the Butterfield Library for past 13 years

1) Why do you want to serve on the Haldane school board and what can you bring to the table? Be specific.

History. I have been a lifelong resident of this community, returning to raise my family here. Consistency. I have served on the Board of Education for the past three years, I know and understand the issues, my role and future challenges. Experience. I have served as VP for the past 2 years and I am ready to take on the Presidency, should I be reelected. Passion. I am passionate about Haldane, Philipstown, balanced boards, transparency and education. Innovation. I like to get things done by thinking outside of the box. Advocacy. It’s a large part of my job as a Library Director and it’s something we need to do more of in the Haldane community.

2) What do you think are the three biggest challenges facing NY State school districts today?

Funding is lower than New York State’s own formula dictates, there are numerous unfunded mandates with new ones on the horizon and lastly, I believe testing has become an issue.

3) What would you like to see happening at Haldane that is not currently taking place, and how would you achieve it?

Recently, I have seen an increase in advocacy from the Haldane community. I believe that it is VERY necessary to continue on this path. It is important for people to understand the issues and voice their concerns. I would like to become active in READ (4 neighboring schools working together to consider issues of mutual concern and dedicated to advocacy) as I believe there is power in numbers.


Julisa Rincón-Tomizawa Julisa Rincón-Tomizawa

Julisa Rincón-Tomizawa

Full Name: Julisa Rincón- Tomizawa

Resident of: Cold Spring, NY

For how many years: 6 years

Family: Husband, daughter (6 yrs. old), and son (4 yrs. old)

Current occupation: Instructional Coach and Special Education Consultant

1) Why do you want to serve on the Haldane school board and what can you bring to the table? Be specific.

I have two children and I want them to know the importance of serving their community. The way I can serve my community is to share my experience of over ten years as a public school teacher, instructional coach, and an education policy maker. In my current profession, I help create plans to maximize funds in support of programs that directly impact student learning, always trying to find the balance point between fiscal and educational matters, such as teacher training, technology plans, and elevating the quality of special education instruction. I have been successful in this role because I enjoy working as a member of a team.

2) What do you think are the three biggest challenges facing NY State school districts today?

There are many challenges facing New York State school districts today. Prioritizing them is a challenge in itself. I would say the three most significant involve the restructuring of state assessments, the financial burden of unfunded mandates, and keeping the budget within the property tax cap, while investing in programs that are designed to make graduates college and career ready.

3) What would you like to see happening at Haldane that is not currently taking place, and how would you achieve it?

We want Haldane students to be the drivers of tomorrow’s economy and in order to do so we need to develop curricula with an enhanced concentration in computer sciences, math and engineering. New York is striving to become the next Silicon Valley. Look no further than Roosevelt Island, now home to Cornell NYC Tech (Cornell Tech). The future of learning is not in merely absorbing content knowledge, but applying it, while developing in our students those skills and dispositions needed to create, collaborate, and lead. As a trustee, I would continue to work together with school administrators to ensure that Haldane graduates are ready for tomorrow’s workforce.

Putnam Valley

Joseph Ferraro

Full Name: Joseph Ferraro

Resident of: Putnam Valley

For how many years: 10 years

Family: Wife (Christine - Married for 23 years), Daughters (Jacey and Kyrie - both attending the Middle School next fall)

Current occupation: Business Owner of PULSE Marketing, Development & Communications [PULSE-MDC] a Direct Response Fundraising Consulting Agency

1) Why do you want to serve on the Putnam Valley school board and what can you bring to the table? Be specific.

It’s not complicated. It’s all about my kids -- their friends and our whole community. I want to play an important role in making their schools the best they can be while remaining cost-effective. I do not want to be someone who stands on the sidelines and complains, rather I want to work to be part of the solution and create a culture of excellence in education.

I want to help the school district to proactively “shape the future” rather than simply react and “face the future.” I feel that the Putnam Valley School Board in conjunction with administrators, teachers and the community should aggressively work together in a strategic way to plan the direction and future of our district.

Yes, we need to focus on student achievement. Yes, we need to address challenges that face “at-risk” students. But we also must embrace a model of education that is more than just about books and tests -- to one that nurtures and encourages the spirit of exploration and the education of the “whole student.”

Society benefits when education is a top priority. In my experience as a fundraiser serving over 100 charitable organizations and raising over a quarter of a billion dollars, data shows that one of the best ways to reduce crime, poverty, unemployment while increasing lifespan, income and civic participation is to build a culture of progressive and interventional education that provides the building blocks of success for today’s kids. A culture of educational excellence begins with parents and teachers and extends to everyone in our community.

2) What do you think are the three biggest challenges facing NY State school districts today?

When we look at public education in our district there are many challenges to face and opportunities to seize -- but there are none more important than improving student academic achievement and addressing the issue of education funding.

During financially difficult times, difficult decisions must be made in order to “ride out the storm.” Spending cuts, contract negotiations, high stakes testing, higher class sizes along with APPR and Common Core Standards implementation are only a few of the short-term issues facing a sitting school board.

However, regardless of funding issues, first and foremost we must look to create and cultivate a culture of academic excellence and high student achievement. Better scores on standardized tests; more students excelling in advanced placement course work; more students accepted to tier one colleges and universities; are all measures of a robust school district.

3) What would you like to see happening at Putnam Valley that is not currently taking place, and how would you achieve it?

Just like any school district we face many challenges -- we have immediate challenges in that we need to fill key leadership positions -- including a new Superintendent and an Elementary School Principal. With a reinvigorated administrative team that comes along with new hires, I am confident that Putnam Valley has great things ahead. Nurturing a truly collaborative spirit that works together as one cohesive district of professionals and neighbors K-12 and beyond is necessary in today’s world of public education. Facing the huge challenges of exceeding the common core and bolstering our emphasis on academic excellence and success beyond twelfth grade is of paramount importance. I am confident that the current board is ready to help move Putnam Valley forward towards these goals.


Jeanine Marie Rufo

Full Name: Jeanine Marie Rufo

Resident of: Cortlandt Manor/Putnam Valley School District

For how many years:12 years

Family: Husband Larry, Son Michael, Putnam Valley Class of 2010

Current occupation: School Social Worker, Nyack Public Schools

1) Why do you want to serve on the Putnam Valley school board and what can you bring to the table? Be specific.

I believe that I have made a valuable contribution to the Board of Education and the Putnam Valley Central School District these past three years. I bring a unique voice that combines the perspective of parent, taxpayer and educator. I use that voice, quite frequently, to ask the important questions and make informed decisions that best serve our students and community. I would like to continue the work I have started, and help move Putnam Valley Central School District forward during these challenging times.

2) What do you think are the three biggest challenges facing NY State school districts today?

There are unprecedented challenges facing all of public education right now. We need to provide our children with an academically rigorous and high quality education that will prepare them to succeed in a constantly evolving world of employment, social and technological challenges and opportunities. We must keep as a priority the fact that our children need to be skilled readers and writers, and that these simple skills are the foundation that all other accomplishments grow on. The New York State Education Department has mandated a set of Common Core Standards that all districts must adhere to. The challenge is for school districts to modify and implement curricula that insure that all students meet these Common Core Standards.

The need to “do more with less” has never been more essential than in today’s educational and economic climate. We need to continue to offer our students a well-rounded educational experience under the constraints of a State imposed spending cap, recognizing that in a residential community the burden to support educational excellence falls on all taxpayers.

As currently designed, the New York State testing and monitoring requirements for school districts are burdensome, and often counter-productive to good teaching methodologies. The challenge is to monitor the effectiveness of our instruction and our curricula without having testing become the focus of the classroom.

3) What would you like to see happening at Putnam Valley that is not currently taking place, and how would you achieve it?

Following the recent resignations of the superintendent and elementary school principal, the Putnam Valley School Board has the immediate challenge replacing these essential positions. I would advocate using this opportunity to assess the current leadership structure. We need to design and select a stable, effective administrative leadership team that has vision and serves as educational advocate for the students, teachers and community that it serves.

Ralph Smith

Full Name: Ralph Smith

Resident of: Putnam Valley, NY

For how many years: 26 years

Family: Wife Laura of 25 years, Daughter Calla, 21 years of age

Current occupation: Retired Teacher, Currently Tutoring and Lifeguard

1. Why do you want to serve on the Putnam Valley school board and what can you bring to the table?

I want to bring 35 years of teaching experience to the Board and a new voice to the Putnam Valley Board of Education. Since I taught for 28 years in Putnam Valley at the Elementary and High School levels, I know the system inside and out. I will use that knowledge to move us forward educationally and financially.

2) What do you think are the three biggest challenges facing NY State school districts today?

Frankly, my concern is Putnam Valley, not the rest of New York State. Here are a few issues for Putnam Valley, in no specific order.

I would like to put a stop to the obsession with NYS testing that has negatively effected education and has had highly questionable results. We have been halting education for two weeks every year to test students with no positive results. These tests were created due to failing inner city school districts, not successful, rural districts like Putnam Valley. We should be concentrating on bringing OUR students to their next level, whatever that level is.

In addition to my educational experience, I am an experienced contract negotiator who can maximize the monies that we have to make sure our students are getting the benefits they should. We have three/four major contracts to resolve in the coming year and I have always been highly successful in the negotiation process.

I would like to keep closer watch on class sizes K-12 since many of the numbers have gotten out of hand due to constant slashing of staff/ programs. Remember, we live in Putnam Valley and we want quality for our money.

3) What would you like to see happening at Putnam Valley that is not currently taking place, and how would you achieve it?

I want a new set of eyes -- my own -- to take a look at the limited funds we have. I want to make sure that the children and the community are getting what they want from the schools that I have dedicated my working life to and that I still hold so dear.

For a look at Putnam Valley’s Meet the Candidates video, check this link



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