Candidate offers experience in education, new ideas

John Paul Kopacz promises to keep taxpayer in mind


John Paul Kopacz, an East Norwich resident for the past 14 years, is running for a position on the Oyster Bay-East Norwich School Board, a logical progression for him, having been an educator and administrator for the past 17 years.

Married, Kopacz, 43, has two daughters, in eighth and third grades, and a son in sixth grade who attend district schools. He has been to many school functions where he speaks to parents, he said, about what improvements they would like to see. Kopacz said he has attended most of the school board meetings this year.

The most significant challenge facing the district, he said, is maintaining the current programming and adding new, innovative opportunities for students, while being mindful of taxpayers.

“The world is changing. AI is the big thing right now and how to get students and teachers to interact with it is important,” he said. “We need to look at where our priorities lie and monitor enrollment in everything to make sure we are spending tax dollars responsibly. We need to consider benefits and cost.”

A Long Island native, Kopacz was an engineer before entering the field of education. A SUNY Maritime College graduate, he has a degree in marine engineering and has a United States Coast Guard license. After a few years of working as an engineer, he attended Hofstra University to earn a master’s degree in secondary education.

Kopacz began his career in education by student teaching at Great Neck Public Schools and then as a leave replacement teacher there. He has been a high school mathematics teacher at Great Neck for 17 years.

Kopacz also earned an advanced certificate in educational leadership from Stony Brook University making him eligible to work as a school administrator at Great Neck. And two years ago, he was among 230 educators selected as a New York State Master Teacher for demonstrating a passion for teaching and learning in science, technology, English and math. Kopacz said he considered the achievement a big honor.

“Education has always been a significant part of my life. I am confident that my skills and experience in education will be an asset to the current BOE and our community,” he said. “I consider myself to be a problem solver and a creative thinker. These skills, combined with my unique perspective as an educator will be especially useful in navigating the challenges that lie ahead.”

Kopacz said he is focused on how the district can improve. He remains impressed by Eric Bramoff, the district’s athletic director, who has encouraged participation in sports by walking the schools’ halls asking students what sport they would like to join. Kopacz said the same approach should be used for encouraging students to participate in academic clubs so they would see how much fun it would be to join the robotics club, for example.

“As a teacher and administrator I have an edge,” he said. “Working in schools I know the terminology used, have knowledge of the academic programs and state tests. It’s part of my professional life every day. I will be prepared to ask more intelligent questions because I have a broader knowledge base.”

He believes in open communication and would like to see an increase in participation in the community.

Kopacz said he is thankful for the education his children are receiving from the district and appreciates the many opportunities students have to develop.

“I am running for the Board of Education to continue to support and expand opportunities for all of our students,” he said. “I am a believer in the saying ‘a rising tide lifts all ships.’ An increased focus on academic excellence would benefit all students in our district.”