Board of Education elections open by absentee ballot

Three Board of Education seats are up for election on June 9.

We asked the candidates to let the community know why, in their own words, they’re running.

Tracy McCarthy

I have been a member of the Shelter Island School Board of Education since 2017 and am running for reelection in June for a second three-year term.

I am the mother of Eliza, a 3rd grader at Shelter Island School, and married to Bryan, a captain at the North Ferry.

As the Director of Operations at Sylvester Manor Educational Farm, part of my responsibilities include overseeing educational programming, which has given me the ability to interact with the Shelter Island School on many levels.

I have been instrumental in expanding the relationship between the Manor and the school by providing in-depth tours to new teachers, faculty and staff; broadening the scope of the annual all-elementary field trip to the Manor; providing access to the Manor for sustainability and environmental exploration; and collaborating with the STEM students to create a walking tour app of the property.

I believe Sylvester Manor, along with so many other local organizations, provides the place-based education critical to today’s students.

I bring a strong business and financial background to my position on the board. I ran my own publishing company for over 20 years and am familiar with budgets, management and personnel issues. I have an undergraduate degree in Recreation Management from University of Vermont and a Master of Business Administration from University of Connecticut. I review the school’s budget throughout the year and have been on the Joint Professional Practices and Policy Committees during my past three years on the Board of Education.

I have lived on Shelter Island full-time for nine years, and had been a summer resident since 1980. I grew up in Port Washington, N.Y., and graduated from a high school of almost 400 students.

I cherish the small-school atmosphere; it is one of our greatest strengths. My goal is to continue to improve the academic offerings of the school, increase academic performance, maintain stability at the administration level and continue to put forth a balanced budget that meets the needs of both the school and the taxpayers.

Dawn Hedberg

I have been a full-time resident of Shelter Island for 14 years, moving here just prior to my son starting kindergarten, largely because I wanted him to have the kind of small-school and community experience that I had growing up in Sag Harbor.

Jonas will be graduating this year, a National Honor Society member with 12 years of special memories, classmates and teammates that are like family. We had our own challenges along the way, mainly working with academic plans that at times felt very “one size fits all” and did not easily allow for growth or encourage a gradual transfer from standard classes to honors classes for students who excelled in some, but not all, subjects initially.

I think that this experience and how we worked it out will help me bring a fresh perspective to a board that is already moving in a positive direction in terms of inclusion and empowering students to find their own paths forward.

I believe the qualifications that I bring to this position have been honed by running my own business, Black Cat Books, for 25 years. Prior to that, I worked in management.

My years of management taught me to listen to people, to work with large groups, and to find common ground and amenable compromises. My years in business have taught me to adapt, to prepare for the unexpected and to work with a budget with many variables that plans long-term expenses.

Lastly, I have been a parent, a PTSA member and a frequent volunteer over the last 12 years. I love this community and school and recognize what a special thing we have here. I have seen so much progress in the last few years that directly benefits each and every student and want to be a part of helping to keep making our school better for every child in this community.

Robert Strauss

I have been in education for 31 years. Before retiring in June, 2019, I had a variety of positions within my former school district.

During my tenure, I was primarily teaching NYS Regents Chemistry as well as other subjects, affording me the classroom experience that included dealing with students and parents and developing stimulating lesson plans.

For three years as Director of Technology, I worked with and led ad hoc and ongoing committees, wrote grants for funding, solicited and analyzed bids from vendors, developed and managed a $3.5 million technology implementation project that included a web-based attendance and grade reporting system. This position reported directly to the Superintendent of Schools.

Between 2009 and 2011, my responsibilities were redirected from teaching to develop the master schedule for a 1,200-student high school. I worked closely with the school principals, guidance department and department heads to execute a fair, balanced and workable schedule.

I also served as the science department chairperson. Duties included developing and managing a $25,000 annual budget, assigning teaching loads, and administering chemical disposal.

As the vice-president of the teachers union for two years, I worked with NYSUT and other stakeholders involving matters of personnel, and took part in salary negotiations. As the union retirement representative and NYSUT union delegate, I learned about these institutions and offered advice to my colleagues.

I have earned a B.S. in Biology, an M.S. in Secondary Science Education and an M.A. in Technology Education and Multimedia from Long Island University. I attended SUNY/Stony Brook for the professional diploma in School District Administration, which included courses in school law and school accounting.

My children have attended Shelter Island School from kindergarten through 12th grade. They have received an excellent education. The two graduates of the school are consistently achieving high honors and Dean’s List recognition since beginning college and they credit their Shelter Island school experience.

I believe I can be an asset to the board and look forward to serving the Island community.