Supports Marrero because she is in touch with community, has communication skills, will involve parents

To the editor:

I am writing to support Natalie Marrero’s candidacy for the board of education.

I am a mother of four children in Pelham Manor spanning from 1 1/2 to ten years old, and we have been a part of the public school system since my first child entered Kindergarten five years ago. I met Natalie almost immediately as she was president-elect of Prospect Hill PTA. Her welcoming warmth and encouragement lured me into serving in the PTA soon after. I have always found her to be knowledgeable not only about the on-goings of the school but of the broader Pelham community, as well. Within a year, I would become her president-elect for the PTA. Later, we had the chance to work very closely together on many community projects through the Junior League. Her volunteer efforts are tireless. Natalie was a mentor for me in my PTA presidency at Prospect Hill, generously making herself available not just as a sounding board but as the type of in depth troubleshooter I could call at 11 p.m. long after my babies were asleep. She always takes the time to listen as I would run ideas by or suggest items for our newsletter for parents, based on what she was hearing in the community that needed responding to. She always made the time for me when it came to the service of the community and of the children. This is the quality that defines what a board of education member should be: in touch with the needs of the community at large.

In addition to being a busy mother of four, professionally I am an assistant principal for the New York City Department of Education in the Bronx, having committed most of my working life to children—especially those in high-need, low-income areas. I know the difference and impact that good parent advocates make as well as the power of parents mobilized and informed on education. Natalie is that person for us in Pelham. While some of the demographics vary greatly between the Bronx and Pelham, there are fundamental pillars to the education of children regardless of zip codes. Having a range of experience in both the Bronx and Brooklyn, I can attest to one of the most important pillars between a good school and great school is parental involvement.

Our board of education should reflect us as a strong community of informed parents, something Natalie has been devoted to in her communications role for the past four years at Prospect Hill. Informing parents is non-political and indicative of ensuring that all of the cards are on the table before we make decisions. Natalie excels in the ability to present facts, which I witnessed in the PTA and in her co-presidency role for the Junior League. The nuances of 2020 only showed us how innovative her leadership was, pivoting as needed to accommodate pandemic and post-pandemic precautions. She is uniquely capable of having people with varying viewpoints reconcile their differences and at least come to an understanding of one another, if not a consensus.

The schools in Pelham are very near and dear to me personally. I believe we have some firm foundations, and with the guidance and representation of Natalie to speak on behalf of the community, we can strive for greater excellence. And yes, excellence, is a moving target for all, but the assurance that the decisions we make are in challenging students academically regardless of their starting points. Excellence is holding the schools accountable to the constituents and problem solving not for quick answers but for the best possible student outcomes. Having worked closely with Natalie for the past five years, I know she is the person for this job, one I know I can hold her accountable for with the full faith she can execute.

I encourage you to join me in voting for Natalie Marrero on Tuesday.

Jessyka Calzolaio

1436 Roosevelt Ave.