Patricia Mittler ended her seven year tenure on the Mineola Board of Education when she decided not to run for re-election this past May. However, her efforts on the board will be evident even in the future. As improvements are made in the district, namely those having to do with technology, and as the space problems are solved with the construction of the new Willis Avenue school building, it will be, in part, because of the time Mittler has given to the district over recent years.
As the board of education's vice president this past year, Mittler helped the board put together the plan that was approved by a majority of voters this past month. The plan will help solve the district's space problems, enable the district to make building repairs that demand immediate attention, and help the schools stay on target with the demands of technology.
For Mittler, the passing of the bond was the proper way for her to end her time on the board. Mittler said she originally became a member of the board because, she said, she felt the standard of education in the district could be raised. Although she said she has witnessed the district achieve a higher educational standard, the passing of the bond gave her a positive end to her time on the board.
"This is a very bittersweet thing for me," she said.
Although Mittler said she will not miss the hours of work necessary to be a part of the board, she says she will miss the friends she has made such as the other board members she has worked with over the past seven years and members of the administration including Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Harry Jaroslaw. "I will miss all of the people I worked with very much and I always will," she said. "We worked well together. We built the kind of situation where we could debate an issue and diagree strongly and then come to a resolution. It was a very positive working relationship...I gained a second family. They will always be very important to me."
As much as Mittler said she will miss the relationship she has built up, she felt the time was right for her to step down. The time has come for new challenges and since her children are grown, she felt it was time for a parent with young children in the school district to step up. However, when something as important as serving the needs of the community when it comes to children has been a part of your life for seven years, leaving is not easy. She has had mixed feelings but, in the end, she felt this was a good time to step down. "With the bond being in place, things will move further in the direction I think they should go," Mittler said. "I have seen a great improvement."
One thing Mittler notes is that there seems to be more of an emphasis on education in the community now and the residents' awareness that the education standard for its school district must continue to improve. "There was always a pretty strong commitment to education in this community but I feel, in the last ten years in particular, it's grown. People seem to ask many questions and seem to be more anxious to be more involved in their kids' education," she said. "We couldn't have made the changes that we did without parents being comfortable with the idea that we were going to challenge the kids more heavily."
Mittler, who also acted as the board's liaison in contract negotiations, also feels good about the fact that a new contract was reached with the teachers association for the next three years. "I really hoped and believed very strongly that I wouldn't leave the board with an unsettled contract. We went very late but we accomplished that together. I'm very excited and very relieved that we were able to do that," she said.
For Mittler new challenges now will include going back to school herself and getting involved in more activities in the East Meadow school district, where she teaches. It will also include making improvements to her golf game. "I've been an extremely mediocre golfer for a majority of my life," she joked. "You don't get better if you don't practice." This summer alone, she has played five times and been to the driving range once, which is more than she has been able to do in summers past.