Four candidates are running for two open Board of Education seats in the Malverne School District’s May 18 election. The Herald sent brief questionnaires to the candidates, and their answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Incumbent Danielle Hopkins is running for re-election, and is being challenged by Nicole Henderson. Hopkins, who has been a trustee with the board for the past 16 years, said she was running again to continue the work she has accomplished with her fellow trustees.
“We have greatly increased the number of Advanced Placement courses, which has allowed our graduates to enter college with a substantial number of college credits,” Hopkins said. “As a result, our high school made the National A.P. Honor Roll several times for the rising number of students who take and pass A.P. exams.”
Hopkins added that the expansion of the district’s curriculum through the implementation of Project Lead the Way has also attributed to Malverne’s success over the past five years. Hopkins said that if re-elected, one of the things she would like to focus on is finding ways to expand the district’s foreign language curriculum.
“We need to bring foreign language instruction to the lower grades and offer additional languages,” Hopkins said. “In particular, we hope to eventually offer American Sign Language/Latin courses or Mandarin. In addition, we need to explore partnerships with local universities to offer college level courses and encourage local students to pursue teaching careers.”
Henderson said she chose to run because she wants to provide a new perspective on the board, which is representation of the elementary level. “I want to advocate for continued success beginning at Kindergarten,” Henderson said. “In addition to being a voice for the elementary students, my efforts as a board member would center on serving all of the children in the community; because one child is no more important than another. Our schools are here to serve the educational needs of all the children.”
Building a bridge between parents, students and administrators throughout the district, Henderson said, is one of her main goals, if elected. She would also like to celebrate the district’s diversity.
“We need to center racial equity holistically in our district,” Henderson said. “That means the budget, the curriculum, the staffing, everything. Equity means understanding what specific challenges and barriers are faced by students and providing support.”
Candidates Kathleen Nolan-Kasal and Joyce Berry are running against each other for the seat of Trustee Phyllis Tinsley, who chose not to seek re-election. Having been involved in several school community groups over the past nine years, Nolan-Kasal said that she would like to take on a greater role with the hope being elected as trustee.
“I want to put into place more opportunities for all community members to be more connected to the schools,” Nolan-Kasal said. “I want to be involved in helping our district move beyond this most difficult year (plus). While the pandemic made this past year extremely challenging on so many levels, it also provided opportunities . . . to think about teaching, learning, community involvement and social/emotional support in new ways.”
An active member in the PTAs at the elementary, middle and high school levels, Berry said she decided to run for trustee to add a voice from the Lynbrook community. “While I feel the board has done an excellent job over the years, it is important for each of our communities to have a representative on the board,” Berry said. “In addition, my extensive experience as a president of the various PTAs in the district and the Central Council PTA, gives me an in-depth knowledge and understanding of our district schools and the needs of our communities.”
This year’s budget vote and trustee election are taking place at Howard T. Herber Middle School, at 75 Ocean Ave., on May 18 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.