MASSENA – The six candidates for two seats on the Massena Central School District Board of Education made their cases during a candidate forum Monday at the Massena Community Center.
Running for seats held by Loren J. Fountaine and David W. LaClair Jr. are Kristy A. Baker, Sarah L. Boyce, Christopher R. Castell, Susan B. Lambert, Zachary J. Monroe and Daniel J. Tusa. The seats are for five-year terms.
Ms. Baker previously served on the board.
“I had the pleasure of serving on the board of education previously, and I am aware of the commitment that it requires. Being involved in education locally has made me aware of the needs of the young children I teach as well as the needs of their families, ”Ms. Baker said. “As of next year, I will have children in high school, middle school and elementary school, giving me the opportunity to stay plugged in at all levels.”
“As a parent with kids in this district, I want to be as involved as I can be and help to make their time in Massena Central School District as amazing as it was when I attended school,” she added. “If I am elected, my main priority would be to focus on the bullying that takes place in our schools. My hope is that working together with students, parents, teachers and administrators, we can build a stronger, safer school system for all of our children. ”
Ms. Boyce is a retired principal of Massena Central High School.
“Education has been my lifelong career. I’ve worked in every part of public education from pre-K to high school. I started working as a teacher in elementary schools at the beginning of my career and later worked at the high school level as a special education teacher. The last 12 years before retirement were spent in several administration positions at Massena Central School District, with the high school principal being my last, ”she said. “Currently, I am employed with St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services) as a special education teacher and North Country Community College as a business professor. ”
She said her educational experience could be valuable on the school board.
“Each candidate comes with a unique set of skills and experiences. I have had the fortune of working in education at all levels and can use the skills and experiences I gained over the years to make sound decisions at BOE level, ”she said.
Mr. Castell said his main priority if elected to the board “is to help preserve and improve the quality of education at Massena because I believe in quality public education for all children. This matters for both current and future students. ”
“I am running for school board to be a conduit for the voice for parents, teachers, school staff and community members. I want to be sure everyone has a voice when it comes to educating our youth, ”Mr. Castell said. “I am an effective communicator and work well with others. I feel these are both vital skills to serve as a board member. I coach youth softball as well as actively participate every year in Massena’s Ready for School event. ”
He said he has a vested interest in preserving and improving the quality of Massena’s school system.
“My children attend Massena and my wife is an employee of Massena,” he said. “I will also be sure to listen to the voice of my constituents and make sure all voices are heard and represented. I feel my skills of working well with others and being a good listener allows me to represent different groups in our community. It will also allow me to help positively influence the fiscal health of the district. Also, my strong vested interest in the well being and quality of Massena School I feel sets me apart from other candidates. ”
Ms. Lambert is set to retire from the district in June, after working in the education field for many years as a school psychologist, special education teacher, international school principal, adult education teacher and adjunct college professor. She has served as the district’s director of special education since 2000.
“During this time I have learned many skills which I hope to apply if I become a board member. In June I will be retiring from Massena Central School District and am eager to continue serving the district by working as a board of education member, ”Ms. Lambert said. “Further, I have a positive and inquisitive nature, am eager to help Massena continue to move forward, have a desire to give back to the community and am a lifelong learner.”
She said she wants to work with the school board, Superintendent Patrick H. Brady, school staff and the community “to promote and continue to develop exemplary programs for all students.”
“As no one learns learns the same way, it is vitally important to continue supporting the excellent Massena programs has developed for their students as well as always looking towards the future in seeking new and innovative options,” Ms. Lambert said.
Mr. Monroe previously served as the executive director of the Police Activities League of Massena, formerly the Boys and Girls Club of Massena.
“Having worked in partnership with the district for a number of years. I also have a solid understanding of our school system. I’m familiar with the school structure, assets, many of the teachers and administrators and the wonderful things our district does well. However, I’m also familiar with the internal / external challenges of the district faces and plans for improvement, ”Mr. Monroe said. “I research and keep myself up to date with school information, viewing board meetings, finances and educating myself through the school board resources page.”
Mr. Monroe said his short-term priorities would be “to see through the successful completion of phase three of the capital project as planned and to develop a working relationship with the current board members and superintendent, to analyze the current district priorities (attendance, graduation rate and standardized testing scores). ”
“Long-term priorities,” he said, “include focusing on a balanced school budget that appropriates resources accordingly for students and teachers. I would also like to see the district continue to advance the community schools initiative and social-emotional learning structure. ”
Mr. Tusa is a teacher in the Malone Central School District, and his three daughters attend Massena Central schools.
“It remains a pleasure watching my three daughters learn and grow within the MCS community. The exceptional programming offered by the district is the result of thoughtful planning and decision-making, ”Mr. Tusa said. “My goal in running for the board of education is to contribute to the continued growth and success of a school district. If elected, my sole priority is to support and advocate for continued growth through collaboration between the district, the full staff and the community. ”
“I am an advocate for public education and view participation on the MCS Board of Education as an opportunity to become more involved. I am familiar with the challenges facing our children both as a parent and an educator, ”Mr. Tusa added. “For over 20 years, I have worked beside district administrators, secretarial staff, teachers, support staff, cafeteria staff, bus drivers, cleaners, custodial and maintenance workers in a neighboring district. Here at Massena Central, I have sat in the stands and on the sidelines at sporting events, attended school functions, concerts, musicals and curriculum nights. My perspective as a result has become global. ”