While dropping off her younger son at one of his last few days of Pre-K, I had the opportunity to chat "off-the-cuff" with Red Hook School Board candidate Erin Misasi to chat about her candidacy and term goals should she be elected. We enjoyed some quick candor before we both had to run to our respective routines. Later that evening (after both of our littles were tucked in for the night), our chat continued.
~ Full disclosure to those reading, we’ve known each other for the majority of our lives. We both attended Red Hook Central Schools, graduated together, and have our kids in the district. It goes without saying the future of RHCSD is of great importance to both of us. ~
During our text session, I asked if it would be ok if I could email over a few "interview questions", with the intent to publish an article in a few spots, to help her communicate her message to the voting public in the district. I do honestly believe it is in everyone's best interest to know who the candidates are, and what they stand for before casting their vote on July 13. Erin quickly obliged, and the questions are below.
HN: Being a product of the Red Hook Central School District, can you explain your view on the RHCSD both then and now?
EM: I grew up in Red Hook as a fourth generation resident. It is my hope that my children will continue this legacy and choose to create their own roots in Red Hook as well. Red Hook was always a district that bred success in all areas. Academics, arts in education, and athletics to name a few. The district provided students with the tools they needed to be successful, be a responsible citizen, and instilled the importance of a good work ethic.
Today, enrollment in public schools is declining at varied rates across the state. Dutchess County in particular has endured a 3% decrease in enrollment in the past year. Homeschooling has become one of the fastest growing trends in family rights across this country and now with the pandemic, it is occurring at an even greater rate.
I would like to see Red Hook remain an appealing school district that families begin to flock to. Red Hook has some great qualities that we should aim to preserve, not change. We need to focus on what is working well and direct our attention to those that are not. But none of this can happen until our students are back in school full time with the support that they will need academically, socially, and emotionally to reduce that gap that lack of instructional time has created.
HN: I know the everyday schedule, moreover COVID schedule, has put many of us near our witts end managing it all. With that being said, as a mother of two, a tenured teacher with her Masters Degree, and a loving husband, why is this 2021 School Board “race” calling you to action?
EM: I am putting myself out there and running for this very public position because I know the value of a good school board and board members. Good board members make good decisions and those decisions matter as they are what create successful schools. I want to be a part of a team that makes respectable decisions that will ultimately continue to improve the overall quality of our schools and the education the children receive.
I am a very active parent in the community and as a teacher, I am a strong advocate for public education. I am not looking to change our schools or instill self-serving policies but have a desire to preserve and improve the quality of education, the overall school climate, and aid in setting policy that positively affects our entire school community. I am prepared to take on this responsibility and be a member that follows though.
HN: Supposing you are elected to one of the two open board positions, how do you feel your involvement will benefit the board, and more importantly, the district as a whole?
EM: As a lifelong resident of this community, I believe that I can be a good representation of our community. I can assure you that my ability to collaborate with the community will be of utmost importance when putting the needs of our students first. I can bring to the table insight and expertise in teaching and learning. I have also been teaching through a pandemic and have firsthand knowledge of what is working, as well as the challenges and tribulations that students and their families, staff, and administration are facing. I am also a rational and honest individual who maintains strong values that speak volumes to my character. I am a parent, an educator, and a tax payer and all of these things are important to me. I believe that I can represent all of them fairly when at this table.
HN: Red Hook has seen some publicity lately concerning the School Board in particular, resulting in some board policy changes, an early vacancy, as well as some additional seats opening up. With this most recent spotlight concerning the School Board changes, how do you feel your work while on the School Board will be viewed publicly? Following up on this, do you feel you’re able to further educational progress in these conditions?
EM: I look at these so-called "conditions" and the work that needs to be done, with a growth mindset. Challenges are what will help us grow. We cannot continue to look backwards because progress cannot exist without moving forward. We should be willing to accept criticism, try new strategies, self-reflect on our own practices, and learn from feedback from students, families, and educators.
I want to personally thank Erin for taking the time "playing ball" with me and my small impact contributors page here on NewsBreak. If her accessibility and willingness to share her thoughts and views concerning the future of Red Hook Central School District are any indication of her performance on the school board, she's a strong candidate with a uniquely applicable qualification set worth a look on July 13th.
The RHCSD Board vote is July 13th, between 12p-9pm at Mill Road Intermediate (that's the 3-5 side, facing Mill Road) in the cafeteria. Make your voice heard with your vote!
I encourage any other RHCSD Board candidates to reach out to me for their own moment in my spotlight. Don't worry, it's only about two candlepower. ;)