As she begins her 15th year on the board of education, Barbara Berkowitz assumes the post of president, elected by her fellow trustees at the board's July 6 organizational meeting. Recently re-elected as a trustee, Ms. Berkowitz follows Lawrence Gross, who just finished another term as president. Judi Bosworth once again was elected vice president. Several years ago, Ms. Berkowitz served as vice president for then-president Judi Bosworth.
Barbara Berkowitz takes the lead at the board of education's organizational meeting on July 6.
"It's daunting to follow Larry Gross and Judi Bosworth," President Berkowitz stated. "Anyone of us could be doing this, we work as a team," she added, echoing the words of her fellow trustees. Ms. Berkowitz then went on to speak of her pride in serving on the board, and serving as president. "There are no egos, no personal agendas here," she said. "It's a pleasure and an honor to serve the community, to do what we do because we love the community and we love the children, and we all want to make this a better place."
In return, the new president said that she was most grateful for the support from the community. "I hope to do you proud," she said.
Mr. Gross had no qualms about this, stating, "Barbara Berkowitz will serve this community extremely well." He spoke about how she has run the most important part of the meetings to date, the portion dealing with the policy committee, which she has headed for years. "This was a good learning experience," he said, noting that Ms. Berkowitz has also served as the E.M. Baker Elementary School PTA president, served on UPTC, and was a very involved parent "for her son and for all of our sons and daughters ... always doing what's in the best interest of the children." He added that Barbara Berkowitz is also an excellent force in helping the board reach consensus.
Judi Bosworth said that Ms. Berkowitz is "really what she seems," and she spoke of her kindness and her professionalism. Trustee Fran Langsner noted the new president's "deep insight into issues," while fellow trustee Donald Ashkenase called her a role model, stating "Barbara represents the best of the community and the board of education."
As Ms. Bosworth was sworn in again as vice president, she, too, spoke of a very supportive board of education. Mr. Ashkenase spoke of her "impeccable integrity" and her wonderful inter-personal skills. Ms. Berkowitz called her a mentor and thanked her for her level of commitment to the community and her work at out-reach. Mr. Gross said that Judi Bosworth is "a wonderful representative of the board in Great Neck and beyond." Ms. Langsner added, "We're grateful."
Superintendent of Schools Ronald Friedman was also sworn in for another term. All of the board members spoke of the smooth transition when Dr. Friedman took over and how they all now work together as a six-member team. They spoke, too, about the school district always growing and moving ahead, always working to be better and better, and with always working to see that each child reached his or her greatest potential.
Dr. Friedman said that he thought this position was a wonderful opportunity, "but I didn't realize how wonderful until I was here." Said Dr. Friedman, "We serve children in public education as well as can be done anywhere." He noted, too, the legacy left by immediate former superintendent, William Shine, and how Dr. Shine had helped him so much with the transition.
And, as Barbara Berkowitz took over the meeting, she offered much praise for Larry Gross, who is beginning his 26th year on the board. Mr. Gross had also been part of the process, years ago, when Dr. Shine had been chosen. When Mr. Gross came to the board there were issues regarding consolidation, he said, and "we saw a need for change in the process on the board." At that time, he said, decisions were pre-determined.
"This board has changed the process," Mr. Gross said. "Everything is now open," he said, "and education in Great Neck for every child is as high as it's ever been."