Readers Write: Nanette Melkonian is the standout among seven Port ed board candidates

The Island Now

Of the seven civic-minded people running for the Port Washington Board of Education, Nanette Melkonian is exceptional among them all and deserves your support.

While I’m grateful for the long-time service of the three incumbents, they hold similar entrenched positions to one another. The rancor in our community this past year is evidence that the current BOE has not ensured that all parents feel heard and respected.

While the passion of the other block slate (three men with very young children) is admirable, each of them is unfamiliar with the complexities of our school district. Their singular focus on pandemic-related issues lacks recognition of the needs of stakeholders beyond those who share their views and focus on elementary school children.

When the pandemic ends, hopefully soon, there will be many other issues for the Board to tackle. They just don’t know what they don’t know.

We are living through challenging, uncertain, and divisive times that require a Board member to consider new ideas and approaches while simultaneously utilizing experience and perspective and being capable of creating change supported by our whole community. Only Nanette Melkonian fulfills these requirements.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “Fight for things you care about but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” Justice Ginsburg could have been speaking about Nan. Nan has a deep, deep passion and core belief in the right of every single child to a high-quality public-school education and excellence.

Nan grew up on Long Island in a working-class neighborhood, filled with people from many backgrounds, ethnicities, and experiences, who became her friends, neighbors, and mentors.

For over 20 years, Nan has channeled her passion toward creating change and improving our school district. Nan has reached out to other parents, providing information and support. Indeed, her deep network among parents at all educational levels will be a tremendous asset as a board member.

I have seen firsthand as Nan bravely stood up to the school district administration when it became necessary to protect the rights of students, parents, and teachers. She made sure that the voices of students, parents, and teachers were heard. She’s devoted countless hours to working with the community to build a school system we can all be proud of.

Remarkably, Nan does this in a way that even those who disagree with her, respect her. How? Nan possesses humility, kindness, and sensitivity, coupled with maturity, excellent communication skills, and a keen ability to listen and truly hear what others are saying. While she always does her own extensive research and is an independent thinker, Nan considers all perspectives and treats everyone with respect and empathy.

Nan has proactively reached out to those whose voices would not otherwise be heard and seeks to empower them. These are vitally important qualities to being an excellent member of the BOE.

For many years, I’ve hoped Nan would run for the school board. With the last of her three children graduating from Schreiber this year, Port can be the full-time beneficiary of Nan’s enormous knowledge, energy, and talents.

Nan is not beholden to anyone or any group. She is running for the right reasons: to represent every single stakeholder: children, parents, educators, and taxpayers.

I can’t wait to cast my vote for Nannette Melkonian on May 18 and encourage you to do so as well.

Allison M. White

Port Washington

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