Retiring Teachers and Board Members Honored at Final BOE Meeting

2019 retirees copyIt was an evening of goodbyes and helloes at the Scarsdale School Board on June 11, when the Board recognized the retirement of some longtime staffers and formerly hired many new faculty members as well.

June 11, 2019 also marked the final meeting for the 2019-2020 Scarsdale Board of Education and three retiring Board members, Nina Cannon, Lee Maude and Bill Natbony were recognized for their service.

Recognizing the retiring faculty, Dr. Hagerman quoted Parker J. Palmer and said, “I am a teacher at heart, and there are moments in the classroom when I can hardly hold the joy. When my students and I discover uncharted territory to explore, when the pathway out of a thicket opens up before us, when our experience is illumined by the lightning-life of the mind—then teaching is the finest work I know. He thanked them for “informing a generation that will shape our future” and said, “You have been leaders, trusted companions and collaborators ... You have demonstrated what it means to be the gest of Scarsdale educators.”

Among the retirees who attended the evening meeting were:

Larry Chatzinoff, Assistant Principal at Scarsdale Middle School

Cheryl Higgins, Second grade teacher at Heathcote Elementary School

Dr. Scott Houseknecht, Principal at Edgewood Elementary School

Lisa Onofri, Second grade teacher at Heathcote Elementary School

Marjorie Ross, Eigth Grade English Teacher, Scarsdale Middle School

Dr. Craig Sherman: District Coordinator of Music and Performing Arts and High School Department Chair


Several others also retired and all were recognized at an afternoon reception.
Pictured at top from left to right are: Lisa Onofri, Marjorie Ross, Barbara Vogel, Larry Chatzinoff, Cheryl Higgins, Elizabeth Ungar, Dr. Scott Houseknecht, Linda Rich, Steve Bogardus, Dr. Craig Sherman, Steve Rambone, Beth Kaye, Faye Turitz, Katherine Krahl, Dr. Thomas Hagerman, Karen Lucente. (Photo credit Scarsdale Schools)

Assistant Superintendent Drew Patrick also announced many new hires and promotions. Trisha Iasiello who is currently a second grade teacher at Fox Meadow School was approved for an appointment as Assistant Principal at Fox Meadow School. She holds a M.A. in Special Education from Mount Saint Mary College, and a B.S. in Elementary Education from Clemson.

Speaking to the retiring Board members, Board President Scott Silberfein thanked them for their dedication and service and for exemplifying “non-sibi.” He noted that the Board had done significant work on the 2018 bond project, safety and security and reviewing board policies.

Dr. Hagerman said, “What feels like an end is often a beginning. We are finishing one year while planning for another.” He thanked Bill, Lee and Nina for “dedicating years of their lives to our schools and our students,” and listed some highlights of the year including the hiring of new teachers and administrators, an 80% approval rate on the 2019-20 school budget, the implementation of Scarsdale’s first food service plan for all elementary schools, consideration of safety and security, the proposal regarding lights at Butler Field and a comprehensive review of school policies.

Bill Natbony made lengthy comments are included below.

Nina Cannon said, “It has been my absolute pleasure to serve… I have learned and benefited and have tremendous respect for each of you.” She said, I have had “meaningful engagement with so many teachers and community members,” and thanked the SBNC for supporting her candidacy.

LeeMaudeLee Maude completed six years of service on the Board of Education.Lee Maude said, “It’s been an incredible six years.” Turning to Dr. Hagerman she said, “I went to Winnetka with Mr. Wixted and met you and got a sense of who you were. I watched you do your entry plan, transition, bond, budgets … I watched you take it in and see how Scarsdale was like Winnetka – but not. You hired and put together your cabinet. You set up a process. We were always moving forward. The learning commons and maker space is here and make our curriculum so much richer.”

Later in the Personnel Report, Assistant Superintendent Drew Patrick announced the hiring of many new faculty members.

Below please find comments from Board Member Bill Natbony as well as the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale and the Scarsdale PT Council.

From Bill Natbony: We have a long agenda this evening but I could not let my last public meeting as a School Board member pass without a few brief remarks and thank yous.

Six years ago, and again 3 years ago, the SBNC and our Scarsdale community allowed me the incredible opportunity to serve as a member of this Board of Education. It has been an opportunity and experience I have greatly appreciated and am thankful to have had this chance to serve. This Board stands as a true example of the importance and vitality of volunteerism in Scarsdale and I urge those of you who have not yet caught the Scarsdale volunteerism fever to do so.

When I first joined the Board, I did so with two fervent hopes and desires -- first, to assist the Board BillNatbonyBill Natbony served two terms on the Board.and Administration in preserving our school system -- a source of immense pride to both past and present residents, and an attraction for future residents. Second, the hope was to enhance our system through creativity and necessity.

The last six years have brought significant positive change to our schools in many ways and in many areas -- curriculum (including STEAM and other areas), facilities, special education, communication, wellness, sustainability, labor relations and budgeting just to name a few. I am proud of the various Board compositions over these years and of what we accomplished together with the Administration.

As a Scarsdale resident looking at public meetings, news reporting, communications and community buzz, one often still sees the Board and Administration through the lens of a single issue that might be of interest to you. It is difficult to see and understand the vast number of issues and, events, actions, policies and decisions that are considered and implemented. This is hard but gratifying work and the main recipients of all this work are our children.

These are tasks that no one person, or one group of people can accomplish with positive results. They require thought, debate, compromise, research and listening. I cannot imagine having a better group of partners these last six years.

First, I would like to thank my fellow Board members (past and present) for their insight and for their ears. It has been and honor and pleasure to work with you. I would like to particularly thank Lee and Scott who served with me at times when I was a Board officer. Thanks for both teaching me and learning with me.

Nina CannonNina Cannon at the final board meeting.Second, I would like to thank the School Administration, both past and present, and in particular our School Superintendent Thomas Hagerman. We essentially grew up together as you started your new term as Lee and I were joining the Board. Thank you for your passion, your vision and your ability and desire to care about doing what's right every day. You have led this District with great distinction and I look forward to seeing continued great leadership in the future, though perhaps from a little further afar. I must also note that you have assembled a truly "all star" leadership group around you with remarkable talent and insight and I thank your cabinet members for the honor to have worked with them over the years.

Third, I would like to thank the community and community groups not only for giving me the chance to sit at this table, but also for giving me comments to think about and a level of community involvement that is unmatched. This community is demanding and rightly so. Remember that this Board and the Administration share the same goals for our school system. Some decisions are harder than others, but from experience I can tell you that the Board and Administration always seek the right answers after appropriate debate and listen not only to you but to each other. We operate on the assumption that all are acting in good faith with appropriate motives. That is an important basis for a working partnership. I have enjoyed that partnership.

There are so many other groups to thank -- the teachers who keep our schools buzzing with intellectual curiously and creativity all hours of the day, and other staff that keep our schools safe and operating efficiently. Thank you for allowing me to join you in our common quest.

Finally, a thank you to my family who has suffered (or maybe cheered) my absence from home on many mornings, days and evenings. I know it was hard for you but the end result for our community is one that is vitally important and I thank you for allowing me to pursue my passion about education.

Speaking on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale, President Leah Dembitzer said, “The League Board wishes to thank outgoing Board of Education members, Bill Natbony, Lee Maude and Nina Cannon for their years of dedicated service to our phenomenal school district. Bill and Lee, you have both served on the board for six years, and have both served as president of the board. Your leadership, determination, attention to detail and preparation for meetings has been extensive and tireless. Bill, your letters to the community, to further engage and connect with the community, were thoughtfully executed and beneficial. Lee, your commitment, year after year, to striking the right balance between the value of a Scarsdale education with a keen awareness of the tax burden, demonstrated your constant cognizance that your service required difficult and thoughtful decisions. Nina, during your three years on the Board, your attention to detail, astute and nuanced questions, connection and engagement with community groups, and thoughtful stewardship have brought much to the community at large.

Bill, Lee and Nina, the League Board deeply appreciates all of your dedicated work to protect and enhance a Scarsdale education for our community’s children and we wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

PT Council Chair Amber Yusuf offered the following comments: On behalf of PT Council, I extend a heartfelt thank you to all the retirees who were recognized earlier this evening and wish them well in their next adventures. And to mark the final board meeting of the school year, I also wish to thank Board President Scott Silberfein, Vice President Pam Feuhrer, who also served her second year as board liaison to PTC, all members of the Board of Education, Dr. Thomas Hagerman, and the entire cabinet for your dedicated service and commitment to our children’s education. The PTC looks forward to continued collaboration with you next year.

Last month, at our annual PTC luncheon, we paid tribute to retirees Scott Houseknecht and Larry Chatzinoff. Dr. Housknecht had the honor of serving as principal at the Edgewood School for 29 years and presiding over their centennial celebration. Scarsdale Middle School was fortunate to have Mr. Chatzinoff’s thoughtful and hard-working presence for 19 years. In their honor, PT Council has made a generous donation to the SHS PTA Scholarship Fund to help students as they start their first year of post-secondary education.

I have the honor tonight of also recognizing the three outgoing members of the Board of Education as they complete their board service. Nina Canon joined the board of education three years ago, and from the start, your pleasant demeanor built a solid foundation for trust. You took your role seriously, respectfully challenging the administration and fully understanding management. You are an outstanding editor with a remarkable eye for detail. You often came to the board table open to ideas, with a willingness to listen to and learn from others, allowing you to be flexible in your decision-making. Your persistence and confidence was present when needed, but always with a smile. You looked for efficiency, efficacy and facility during your tenure, and these characteristics will be missed. Most importantly, you kept our children’s needs first and foremost, and we appreciate your service Nina.

Bill Nabotny, as you complete your second term, I wish to thank you for your service over the years as a deeply thoughtful board member who was guided by a belief in doing what was fair and just. Your appreciation of the other Board members suggestions was noted, and you worked to adjust your opinion based on the input of your fellow board members and community perspectives. Your ability to play Devils’ advocate ensured that both sides of every issue were fully considered. Your curious and communicative nature served you well during your term as Board President. And your through consideration of issues helped pace the Board so that the big picture and long term impact were always considered. Your commitment to fiscal responsibility served our community well during two bond efforts during your time on the Board. Bill, your mindfulness around the impact to students will always be appreciated.

And last but most certainly not least, thank you Lee Maude for your leadership over the past six years, serving two terms as Board President starting in the third year of your first term. We are lucky to have had your strength and tenacity during challenging times in our community, guiding the Board and the administration through a time of exceptional challenges with both contracts and bond proposals. Your commitment to community engagement and participation is exemplary, and you ensured the administration attended to all input and concerns. You were instrumental in building a better board, by establishing an atmosphere of respect and trust, fostering dialogue and effective questioning. You took the time to research best practices, attend workshops and consult with other Board Presidents, always putting in extra effort. Lee your commitment to all of our students, in addition to those with needs, will be missed.

A sincere thanks to all of you for efforts and time you spend for the well-being of our children and the betterment of our community.