I am a mother of four children, active community volunteer, and resident of Greenwich for 20 years. I have been married to my husband John, for 29 years. Our children, ranging in age from 15 to 23, have all been educated in the Greenwich Public Schools. I am Global Head of Alliances for Imply Data.
Greenwich schools are unique among U.S. public schools. First, any successful Superintendent must be an accomplished, innovative and thoughtful educational leader and must communicate honestly, openly and transparently. They must be able to develop an educational strategy that preserves the high achievement of many Greenwich students but also address long-standing education gaps. Second, he/she must be a capable, collaborative and effective business manager to successfully operate a $250M budget. Last, a successful Superintendent must listen, learn, and respect the values of parents.
The primary purpose of a Board of Education is to ensure high achievement for all students. There are four specific actions the BoE can take to support teachers. First, they must establish and communicate strategic educational expectations and goals. Next, the BoE has the responsibility to set curriculum standards for all grades and subjects. In today’s highly politicized environment, the Board can best support teachers from controversy and stress by making standards clear and transparent. Last, the BoE must assure that total compensation is competitive to attract the best and brightest.
The BoE commissioned an extensive assessment of all facilities by industry experts KG&D and they made comprehensive recommendations for a long-range capital plan. Although circumstances have changed since then, the plan was sound and prioritized. The new BoE should update this plan and follow the many recommendations that have not yet been fulfilled. This includes, better maintenance of existing buildings; system-wide upgrades to handicapped/ADA access, HVAC systems, improved security, replacement of out-of-date schools (CMS) and address capacity at overcrowded schools (NMS, EMS, Riverside).
My motivation for joining the Board of Education is to work together with the members of the Board to enhance the Greenwich Public Schools. The Greenwich BoE needs Board members who can listen to subject-matter experts, colleagues and other stakeholders to make intelligent informed decisions while listening to diverse viewpoints. These are exactly the skills I employ to achieve business success everyday. I look forward to bringing these capabilities to the Board of Education, to drive successful outcomes and raise the standards of academic achievement for all Greenwich students.
I live with my wife and two year old daughter in Greenwich. I grew up here and attended Parkway, GCDS and Greenwich High. I was a Math major at Northwestern University and currently work for a hedge fund in Greenwich. Previously I worked in private equity and investment banking.
Superintendents can be process driven bureaucrats or results oriented executives. Students in Greenwich deserve the latter. The essential qualification that distinguishes between these two is embracing accountability, both for oneself and the school system. This means not letting the inertia of the status quo overwhelm. It means focusing on measurement of outcomes. It means continuously evaluating how the various elements of the Greenwich education system are performing, and being willing to make changes where performance is not adequate.
The Board of Education's role is to ensure that families in Greenwich are provided with schools that are second to none. It starts and ends there. This can only be done through sound governance, which means setting political affiliations aside and focusing on driving outcomes through measurement and accountability. This is the key to not only hiring and retaining the best and brightest teachers and administrators, but also empowering them to run our school system in the best way possible.
The hierarchy of priorities starts with structural safety of buildings (for example, the North Mianus ceiling collapse should have never happened). Next are projects that meet immediate educational needs of students. In general the Board's job is to manage an endless array of tradeoffs, as there will always be constraints from budgets and bandwidth. The key is for the Board to be thoughtful, consistent and systematic in regards to how it conducts cost benefit analysis, such that the rationale for choices is clear to the Board's constituents.
I think the BOE has been overly politicized in recent years, and would benefit substantially from members not affiliated or focused on politics. I approach this role from a corporate background, having served as a board member of multiple companies, both public and private. This has provided a healthy understanding of governance, budgeting, capital planning, and managing executive teams. Perhaps most important is that I am focused on the long term; my daughter is two and I hope to position the school system to serve her as best as possible as she grows up.
Mom of four children attending Greenwich Public Schools. Second-term RTM member from District 8. Alternate on Budget Overview Committee. Former Secretary, North Street School PTA (2019-2020). Volunteer with Moms Demand Action. 20 years of professional experience in television news.
I believe it is essential for a Superintendent to be an effective and transparent communicator. In the past, this was often overlooked. Currently, we are lucky to have a Superintendent who sends regular, weekly emails to families, capital projects updates and Covid tracker updates twice a week so that parents are kept apprised of what's occurring in our school community regarding the ongoing pandemic. Additionally, it is essential for a Superintendent to stay up to date on latest guidance from the AAP, CDC as well as our state and local health departments during the current pandemic.
I believe the BOE should communicate with the entire school community (parents, students & teachers) about what's occurring at the Board level. Currently, the Board does not communicate at all. Anyone who wants to know what's occurring at the BOE level must attend meetings and be proficient in the structure and use of Board Docs, which is not user-friendly. Or they'll need watch many lengthy videos of meetings. Interested parties should be able to subscribe to email updates from the BOE that include meeting agendas, action items, vote tallies and a link to the meeting video once it's posted.
The safety and accessibility of our buildings are a top priority for me. Currently, Old Greenwich School, Riverside and Julian Curtis are not ADA compliant. The Havemeyer Building is also not ADA compliant. Hopefully, the JC education specs (which the BOE recently voted to re-affirm their support for) won't be an issue for the BET at budget time because the longer this project is delayed, the longer all the other ones prioritized in the Facilities Master Plan will be delayed as well. This presents a significant safety and legal liability which is very difficult to quantify financially.
I have been involved in our schools since my first child entered Glenville School and he's now a junior at GHS. I've been a classroom and committed PTA volunteer for many years. I'm currently serving my second term on the RTM (our local legislative body) and I've been a regular attendee at Board of Education meetings over the years. I currently have four children accessing our curriculum every day. I feel serving on the Board of Ed will allow me to continue to advocate on behalf of our students and families.
I have 23 years' experience as a teacher/administrator in public schools. 11 years ago I moved here with my wife, Dr. Catherine Berzolla. Before then, I served 5 years as a BOE member in NJ. I have a doctorate from the Univ. of Pennsylvania and am an adjunct education professor. We have two boys.
Most essentially, a superintendent cannot let the competing demands of the job distract from the goal of improving student achievement. The superintendent must develop the instructional capacity of our teachers, such that our classrooms embrace advancements in cognitive science.
GPS needs ambitious goals and an articulated, multi-year plan for attainment. Let’s make sure every third-grader is reading on level. Let's work to shrink the gap between student performance on the western and eastern sides of town. Let’s identify a plan for every GHS student to graduate with AP credit.
GPS is at least a decade behind the times in three significant ways:
1. The teacher evaluation system embraces an antiquated approach where teachers are observed in classrooms infrequently. This limited feedback does not support growth.
2. The recent audit pointed to a lack of academic and social-emotional interventions for all students. Such a system – called Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports – is standard practice across the country.
3. Cognitive science has greatly changed our understanding of how students learn. GPS professional development programs must align with this research.
Capital improvements need to be grounded in student needs. I worry about flashy master plans developed by architects with no educational training. We need to prioritize ADA compliance and safety. Buildings need to be accessible for all students, while our entrances and physical plants must be at code and reflect the realities of the modern world.
Beyond that, capital improvements should only move forward when they align with educational research. Let's make sure projects support the district's core educational mission and align with learning science on how kids learn best in schools.
I’m running for the BOE for the simple reason that I think I can help. As a career educator, I have watched the BOE get distracted from important conversations about academic achievement. We need a fresh perspective on how things can be done differently.
Let’s make GPS one of the premier school districts in the country. We have the talent and resources to ensure all students achieve at a high level. Let’s eliminate the gap in academic performance between the two sides of town, modernize our special education programs, and ensure instruction aligns with advancements in cognitive science.
I have a track record as a community leader and a financial executive. I am currently Vice-Chair of the Board of Education, Board member of NEGA, and past youth sports coach. Professionally, I bring more than two decades of financial experience. My husband and I have 3 children in our schools.
I was chosen to lead the search for the current Superintendent, and we sought a visionary leader who inspires trust, is committed to a student-centered philosophy, promotes best practices in curriculum, builds consensus among stakeholders, and can manage a budget. Most importantly, we sought someone with a passion for education and who cares deeply about the students.
When we ran the search, we wanted to find the right person who was committed to Greenwich. The frequent turnover in leadership had been a problem previously, and I am pleased that we recently renewed Dr. Jones contract.
The BOE needs to provide the framework, resources, and structure that allow the teachers to meet the needs of all our students. We also need to continue to maintain consistency across schools in the curriculum while giving the teachers appropriate flexibility to engage their students.
Furthermore, communicating with the parents as often as possible is crucial. I know as a parent myself I look forward to email updates and conferences. This is something the Board needs to continue to make a focus so that parents are partners with the teachers in the education of their children.
Our school buildings on average were built in the 1950s and our oldest dates to 1902. The replacement value of the buildings is $1 billion. Given the scale and the age of our buildings, there is need for annual maintenance and capital investment.
At the request of the BET, the BOE undertook a master facility planning project, which has served as a framework. We have prioritized project work in our schools based on criteria such as air quality, safety and security and ADA. We need to secure our infrastructure to keep our students safe and ensure an optimal learning environment.
When I ran in 2017, I wanted to focus on providing a best-in-class education system while balancing the financial priorities of our community. I believe my analytical approach and financial acumen is helpful in finding the right answers for our schools.
Serving during COVID taught me that you need to continually seek public input, listen to experts, plan, but then remain agile. There were many school systems that did not return to school in 2020, but we listened to the community, developed a plan and opened. I look forward to continuing to work tirelessly and effectively for our town.