How does one define leadership? Are leaders born, or are they made? Can leadership be quantifiably measured, or is it essentially qualitative?
These questions are posed frequently, and while there may be any number of fitting answers, there cannot be any doubt that Barbara Berkowitz’s service on the Great Neck Public Schools Board of Education epitomizes all of them.
It was my distinct privilege and honor to serve as a member of the Board with Barbara from 2000–2012. During that time, I witnessed, on a daily basis, her incredible work ethic, integrity, and commitment to maximizing the educational potential of each and every child, ever mindful of the district’s fiscal responsibility to the community.
Barbara’s foresight, her ability to distill any issue into its essential components, and her clear thinking have always empowered district personnel to respond quickly and appropriately, no matter the circumstance.
It has always been clear that Barbara adheres to a policy form of governance that focuses on framing a vision and mission for the district by setting goals that express the Board’s values.
She accomplishes this by espousing an interdisciplinary form of leadership, one that cultivates collaboration with all stakeholders: fellow board members, administration and staff, students and community partners.
It is a type of leadership centered on recognizing each individual’s contribution to the greater good and acknowledging the merit of respecting all points of view.
It is currently being proposed that “it is time for a change.” While it is true that all successful organizations recognize when they need to embrace change and that change can be reformative or even transformative, but change for the sake of change alone is hard to justify, often non-productive and possibly even destructive.
So just what needs to change? The achievements of the district’s students as represented by annual New York State Report Cards? Third-party validation accrued to the district through the awards earned by students in the areas of business, mathematics, music, robotics, and science research, to name just a few? The quality of post-secondary opportunities afforded to its graduates? Its faithful support of the individual needs of students who present a variety of distinct learning styles? The district’s exceptional credit and bond ratings enable it to secure tax anticipation notes or borrow at favorable interest rates?
One may need time to ponder the possible answers to my original questions regarding leadership, but there can only be a single answer to these questions, which is that none of the above warrants a compelling need for change.
Barbara Berkowitz has a proven record as an invaluable asset to the Great Neck Public Schools. She has consistently demonstrated a core belief that there is no room for a personal agenda when it comes to community service, proving that she has always been, and will remain, an unparalleled steward of public education.
I emphatically urge all eligible voters to cast their ballots on Tuesday, May 11, to re-elect Barbara Berkowitz.
Former Great Neck Resident