I am writing to express my enthusiastic support for the election of Peter Bernstein to the Greenwich Board of Education.
On a national level, as an American, I was proud when New Jersey Governor Christie and President Obama were able to work together to begin rebuilding The Jersey Shore after Hurricane Sandy, putting aside party politics for the good of the country. I was not so impressed over the past few weeks by the lack of cooperation across the aisle exhibited by our friends in Washington, D.C.
Locally, as an involved citizen in our community, I have always admired the actions and tone set by First Selectman Peter Tesei and Selectman Drew Marzullo. I appreciate that these two key Greenwich leaders share their willingness to work for the people of our town no matter what party a person belongs to, as was demonstrated by our national leaders after Sandy. Our First Selectman and Selectman always seem to me to put people’s needs first and are able to work together successfully even with different political parties and different agendas. They both make the town the priority – not their egos.
Unfortunately I have often noticed that some members of the Board of Education did not seem to share this nonpartisan approach. To me, it is so crucial that children, and their education, be first priority, but with the BOE, that has not always seemed to be the case.
That is why I am SO pleased that Peter Bernstein is running for BOE.
The election of Peter Bernstein will now mean we have a First Selectman, Selectman, and Board of Education member who put our citizens first, not themselves. Peter Bernstein will help unify the Board. This is so needed and necessary.
As one of the people that asked Peter Bernstein to run for PTA President at Hamilton Avenue (and is currently trying to fill his shoes in that office), I know that he has the skills and temperament to succeed as a member of the Board of Education.
Peter helped bring leadership to the Hamilton Avenue PTA. After years of constant board turnover, Peter and others worked hard to turn things around. He encouraged collaboration and worked with challenging personalities, winning people over with enthusiasm and logic. Instilling concepts from the business world, he helped make initiatives repeatable so that people could come in future years and have a foundation on which to build.
Peter’s focus during his time as Hamilton Avenue PTA President was to provide enrichment for the students and drive parent outreach. Peter strongly supported monthly Cultural Cafes, school assemblies (including one dedicated to bullying) and classroom activities ensuring that every student in each grade experienced an out of school field trip. All of these endeavors continue to thrive at “Ham Ave.,” thanks in part to Peter’s support and advocacy.
Parent outreach was critical to our success. Peter wanted parents to feel that they had a part to play in their child’s education and that they should feel welcome in the school. He encouraged participation in class parties; being in the school for activities like concerts and multicultural nights; and volunteering in a classroom as a way to foster community and to building relationships with teachers.
Peter also engaged our teachers. He addressed the teachers at staff meetings before school started and again during the year to make sure they knew what the PTA was up to and ask for their help and ideas, a practice he encouraged and I have closely followed as his successor. The teachers embraced their role as partners and many ended up in a dunk tank for their trouble at our Springapalooza event.
Fundraising efforts during Peter’s term at Hamilton Avenue School were highly successful; in addition to supporting Curriculum Enrichment by funding Cultural Cafes, field trips, and assemblies, we were able to purchase supplies for classrooms and books for students for summer reading.
Peter Bernstein will make an excellent member of the Board of Education. He will follow the example of collaboration between leaders that is possible in our democracy, and continue to make the kind of positive contributions and collaboration that Peter Tesei and Drew Marzullo already make to Greenwich. I encourage you to vote for him on November 5th.
President, Hamilton Avenue School PTA
Greenwich Patch will publish election-related letters to the editor through Oct. 31. To be considered for publication, letters must be submitted by 5 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013.)