Sunday, October 17, 2010

Questionnaire: Ms. Edith Leet

Questionnaire from Ms. Edith Leet.  Ms. Leet also gave us her resume, which is below her questionnaire.

Answers from Edith Leet, Member of the Board of Education and candidate for the School Board
to the Montessori Community Council’s “Meet the Candidate Questionnaire”
October 5, 2010

1.   Why did you decide to run for Albany City School Board?
I decided to run for the Albany City School Board because I want to make high school graduation a reality for every student, and I want to eliminate achievement gaps caused by racial, ethnic, or economic differences.  I have the energy, experience, and vision to work enthusiastically and diligently toward those goals.
2.   What qualifies you to be on the Albany City School Board?  Do you have any unique qualifications that set you apart from other candidates?
I am uniquely qualified to serve on the School Board because of my background and experience in education and working with children. This includes:
·        attending city schools (in Chicago);
·        earning a Master’s degree and permanent certification to teach English and Social Studies in grades 7-12;
·        being a homeowner in the City of Albany since 1971;
·        volunteering in the Albany School District since 1978;
·        leading and working with community groups such as the FOCUS Churches to support and improve Albany Public Schools;
·        teaching and working with children of all ages, including volunteering in the schools, Sunday School and youth activities, and summer camp.  
·        working for the State Education Department in the areas of curriculum writing, testing, public relations, and education and services for individuals with disabilities;
·        owning an editorial services business with many clients in the field of education; and
·        serving on the Albany Board of Education since March 2010.

3.  Parents in each Albany city school watch as their neighbors and children’s friends leave the schools for Charter Schools, Private Schools, and other districts.  What concrete steps can be taken to prevent the loss of students and resources from the ACSD to these competitors?
 Improving student achievement in all of our schools is the best way to convince parents to choose Albany Public Schools over charter schools, private schools, and schools in other districts. As we work to improve student achievement, the ACSD can also:
·        Encourage parents and community members to join District and school-based committees that work to improve our schools.
·        Encourage parents and community members to volunteer in our schools.
·         Make sure every visitor in every school receives a warm and friendly welcome and prompt help with the objective of their visit.
·         Support strong parent organizations and encourage them to “spread the word” about the advantages of our schools.
·         Reach out to prospective parents and provide support to help them register their children in our schools.
·        Communicate with parents and community members directly through mailings, newsletters, its website, special programs, and personal encounters.
·        Provide opportunities for parents and community members to come into the schools for sporting events, plays, concerts, special programs, and community get-togethers.
·        Reach out to real estate agents to be sure they have up-to-date information about our schools and can promote the advantages of an urban education.
·        Promote the achievements of our schools and students in the media.
4.   How would you work with City government and other community stakeholders to make Albany more attractive to homeowners and parents as a permanent option for their families?
Poverty is a major factor in making city living less attractive to families who can choose to live elsewhere.  We need to rehabilitate or tear down abandoned buildings, provide affordable housing for our homeless families, and make our streets, parks, and other public areas clean, safe, and attractive. We also need to provide supervised activities for children when they are out of school and free or low-cost recreational opportunities for families.  Accomplishing these tasks could provide jobs and needed income to help lift families out of poverty. I am a member of several organizations that help homeless and low-income people cope with their situations through food pantries, breakfast programs, homeless shelters, collections of school supplies, and out-of-school activities. I believe that we could create public-private partnerships to accomplish the improvements in city life noted above. I have been meeting with our elected officials in both city and state government, and I will continue to highlight these needs and promote innovative ways to meet them.
 5.   While publicly, there is a perception of failures for the ACSD, there are many successful programs and schools that families look forward to sending their children to.  While everyone values these programs, they are often targeted for cuts, making them less effective. During a time of budget reductions, how do you intend to support existing successful programs in schools, and continue to bring in new programs in schools that need them? When you do need to cut programs, what will be done to fill the voids that follow?
 From my experience with one budget cycle, I believe that the Board is doing its best to use data to eliminate the less successful programs, not the successful ones. Unfortunately, salaries for District staff are by far the largest portion of our District budget, and when millions of dollars must be cut, laying off staff becomes necessary. Due to seniority, the particular individuals laid off might be ones working in successful programs, but that does not mean the successful programs themselves were targeted.  When we did have to eliminate successful programs, such as School Nurse Teachers or Reading Recovery, we tried to ensure that the services the programs offered could be provided less expensively in other ways. 
 6.   The budget process in the ACSD has been a particularly painful one in recent years.  Often, to streamline the process, items are lumped together in budget lines. While this makes sense for some items, for others, this has the effect of drastically changing a program without involving the school stakeholders. How will you balance the need for a streamlined process with transparency?
I support providing full information to taxpayers about what the budget contains and how programs would be affected. I also support providing many opportunities for Albany’s citizens to have input into the budget as it is being developed. By working far enough ahead of our deadline, the budget vote in May, we should be able to provide the transparency our citizens deserve.
7.   What will you do to ensure children’s safety not only at school but getting to and from school?
I expect our transportation administrators to work closely with both CDTA and Durham bus company officials to make sure that safety is a top priority and that any situations that threaten the safety of our children are dealt with and resolved immediately. I expect our principal, teachers, staff, and volunteers to likewise make safety a top priority both in our school buildings and on school grounds, and as a Board member, I will hold them accountable if they allow unsafe situations or practices to develop. I encourage cooperation between school and city officials to address situations that endanger our children when they are off school property on their way to and from school.   
8.   Parent involvement is an important part of every child’s education.  How will you encourage parents to be more involved? 
I am working to assure that our schools and the District communicate clearly and effectively with parents, that they solicit the parents’ help, and that they actively welcome parents and value their contributions.
Since joining the Board in March, I have worked on revising the District’s Shared Decision Making Plan, which now mandates a parent representative on every Building Leadership Team. I have long advocated for a District-level Coordinator of Volunteers, and that position became a reality last March, albeit only half time. Through these vehicles, parents will be solicited to become involved in both supporting their children and shaping the educational programs and school communities their children are in. 
I will continue to encourage parents to join the Building Leadership Teams and other shared decision making committees at both the school and District levels, to volunteer in the schools, to take part in recycling and other school support projects, and to participate in their school’s parent-teacher organization.

9.   What are your thoughts on the high school restructuring?
I want the high school restructuring planning groups to include parents, students, and community members. The planning process needs to be transparent, so that the ones who will be most affected are aware of the issues being addressed, feel that they are represented in the decisions being made, and look forward to the new opportunities that smaller learning communities will offer.  I also want the planners and the community to recognize that the relationships students form with the adults around them are crucial to their success, no matter what the size of the learning community is.
I want to make sure that parents and students are clearly and fully informed of the changes to be made and how they will affect students and families. I want to see students have as much choice as possible in the courses they take and the extracurricular activities they participate in. I want to make sure that the quality of education offered in each small learning community is the same.

10.  Being on the School Board is a large, unpaid time commitment.  There is often a high turnover for School Board members because of this. Are you aware of this and what have you done to ensure against it for you? 
I have honed my skills in time management and setting priorities through years of work as a member and leader in organizations such as the PTA, my church, the FOCUS Churches, the Capital Area Council of Churches, and others in addition to working full time and maintaining a free-lance business. I have been on the Board since March, and I have a good idea of the time commitment it entails. Since I am now semi-retired, I have more time to devote to the Board and the District, and my experience on the Board so far makes me eager to continue.  

951 Myrtle Avenue
Albany, New York 12203-1817
Phone:  518- 482-6612 (home); 518-265-0551 (cell)

1973-Present: Editor, self-employed, Albany, NY. Owner of EHL Editorial Services.
       Free-lance assignments and part-time work have included:

Writing, editing, and producing printing masters for a history of First United Methodist Church, East Greenbush, NY. 

Edited and produced printing masters for a local history book, Three Centuries on the Hudson River: One Family...One Dutch House, by William Staats.
Editing copy for syllabus and curriculum materials published by the New York State Education Department, Bureau of Curriculum Development; various subjects and grade levels.

Editing CHF News (formerly update), a quarterly newsletter of The Child's Hospital Foundation, including all writing and design.

Developing and editing copy for brochures, flyers, and annual reports for New York State Higher Education Services Corporation.

Developing and/or editing copy for brochures and books produced through the School of Management, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Editing articles by university professors for publication in professional journals; various subjects including computer systems, telecommunications, and disaster management.

Preparing indexes for editions of School Law, a handbook for school board members published by the New York State School Boards Association, Inc.

Developing test items for, writing model answers for, and rating student answers on the Regents Competency Writing Skills Test, Division of Educational Testing, New York State Education Department.

Developing test items for the Regents Competency Test in Social Studies, Bureau of Social Studies Education, New York State Education Department.

Editing copy for course schedule tabloids produced by the Division of Continuing Studies, State University of New York at Albany.

Developing test items for the verbal abilities section of New York State Civil Service Examinations, New York State Department of Civil Service.

Providing rewriting services for The Source and Compact, quarterly newsletters for members of the New York State Teachers' Retirement System.

Providing articles, editing, proofreading, layouts, and paste-ups for The Carillon, a publication of the Alumni Association, State University of New York at Albany.

Editing and proofreading news releases, speeches, and reports for Key Banks Inc., Albany, NY.

2002-06: Coordinator of Public Relations for CROP Walk, Capital Area Council of Churches, Albany, NY.

Developed and produced publications and publicity for all of the CROP Walks in the Capital Region, growing from nine communities in 2002-03 to 12 communities in 2005-06. Recruited business and individual sponsors.
Developed and supervised ordering and distribution of incentives.
During the four years, the number of walkers went from 525 to 800+ and the amount raised went from $65,000+ to $90,000+.

2001-03: Associate in Educational Testing, State Education Department, Albany, NY.

Developed new components to New York State tests, revised and edited test manuals and instruction sheets, and handled the production of testing materials.

1989-2001: Assistant Examinations Editor, State Education Department, Albany, NY.

In Office of Testing, edited copy for New York State examinations at the elementary and secondary level, including Regents examinations, Regents competency tests, and PEP and PET tests.

In Communications Office, wrote, edited, and produced internal and external newsletters and news releases.

In Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities, developed and produced newsletters, reports, brochures, and promotional pieces for use in informing the public of program services, recruiting clients for VESID, and advocating for legislation and budget increases for VESID’s programs.

1968-73: Publications Editor, Community Relations Office, State University of New York at Albany, Albany, NY.

Was managing editor of three publications: The Carillon, a quarterly tabloid; Emphasis/Albany, a quarterly newsletter; and Tower Tribune, a weekly tabloid newspaper. Participated in planning issues; researched and wrote both news and feature stories; made assignments to other writers; did layouts, editing, proofreading, copyfitting, writing of headlines, and cropping and scaling of photographs; did paste-ups or supervised their preparation by others. Expanded The Carillon to 12 pages quarterly. Instituted editorials and expanded the use of news features, photographs, and photo essays.

Did editing and proofreading of copy for booklets, brochures, programs, posters, and flyers originated by other offices and schools of the university.

1964-65: Co-Editor, Albany Student Press, State University of New York at Albany, Albany, NY.

Served as co-editor during the first full year in which the ASP went from a weekly to a semi-weekly publication schedule. Was involved in all aspects of the paper's production and set editorial policy. The ASP earned a "First Class" rating for the year from the Associated Collegiate Press Rating Service.


Develop and teach workshops for adults in techniques of copy editing and production of publications.

Have developed and assisted with Sunday School, youth fellowship, and adult education programs at the First Church in Albany and at Emmanuel Baptist Church.

1979-83: Developed and administered First Church Olympics, a program of Christian stewardship for young people in grades 3-12 at the First Church in Albany.

1978-79: Developed and taught a "Learning through Art for Preschoolers" class and "Toymaker Workshops" for children aged 3-6 at the Harmanus Bleecker Center, Albany, NY.


State University of New York at Albany, B.A., social studies; M.A., English. New York State permanent certification to teach English and social studies, grades 7-12.


Member, Albany City School District Board of Education, March 2010-present

Chair, Conference Planning Committee for “Come Alive and Thrive” Conferences, 2007-present
Planning, promotion, and carrying out of two-day conferences featuring nationally known writers and thinkers such as Diana Butler Bass and Dr. Tony Campolo.

Commissioner of Christian Action and Social Ethics, Capital Area Baptist Association, 2008-present
Encourage awareness of peace and justice issues and encourage congregations and individuals to take action to address injustices.

Capital Area Baptist Association Representative to Capital Region Ecumenical Organization, 2008-present
CREO encourages ecumenical cooperation and participation in promoting social justice.

Chair, 175th Anniversary Committee, Emmanuel Baptist Church, 2008-present
Planned and carried out a year-long series of events to celebrate the church’s 175th anniversary in 2009.

Member, Dean’s Committee, , 2008-present
Development and approval of courses offered by the Capital Region Theological Center

Member of Diaconate, Emmanuel Baptist Church, 2000-06, 2009-present
Served as member and later chair of the Christian Growth and Development Commission, then member of the Caring and Fellowship Commission, and now member of the Membership and Evangelism Commission.

Crafts Director, Pathfinder Lodge, Cooperstown, NY, summers, 2006-present
Direct craft activities for children ages 5-18 and for special needs adults at an American Baptist sleep-away camp. 

Moderator, Emmanuel Baptist Church, 2006-2008
Served as lay leader of the congregation and chair of the Coordinating Council.

Member, Growing God’s Ministry Committee, Emmanuel Baptist Church, 2005-present
Planning and supervision of $300,000 renovation project.

Member of the Board, Capital Area Council of Churches, 1997-2002
Provided oversight to CACC programs.

Member and Chair, Districtwide Shared Decision Making Committee, 1996-1999

Member of Strategic Plan Steering Committee, City School District of Albany, 1990-91
Served on School Board committee charged with coordinating the implementation of recommendations contained in the report Albany's Children: Albany's Future cited below.

Member of Strategic Planning Committee, City School District of Albany, 1989-90
Served on 25-member citizen committee that produced a report, Albany's Children: Albany's Future, detailing 55 recommendations for improving the Albany City School District through the next 10 years.

Officer, Albany High School Parent-Teacher-Student Association, 1987-91
Served as Vice President for Publicity. Wrote news releases for PTSA events and published a newsletter circulated to faculty, staff, and parents.

Member, School 16 Parent-Teacher Association, 1978-1988
Instituted and served as co-chairman and coordinator (1986-88) of the Classroom Volunteers program, in which parents make a commitment of one hour each week to help a teacher with such tasks as assisting individual students, working with small groups, monitoring student use of a computer, or taking care of clerical tasks.

Served on the staff of the Yearbook as Editor (1984-85, 1987-88), Assistant Editor (1985-86), and Co-Editor (1986-87).

Coordinated publishing projects in which individual classes wrote and published newspapers and/or booklets of creative writing (1982-­83, 1983-84, 1985-86, 1987-88).

Imagination Celebration
Served as a volunteer writer to help small groups of children write news stories during sessions of the Student Press Corps (1986-90). Served as a juror for student entries in the Creative Writing Opportunity (1987-91).

Education '89 Conference
Served on the 10-member Conference Committee that set up a day-long conference (held October 15, 1988) to examine issues in the Albany Public Schools. The conference was attended by almost 300 parents, teachers, administrators, School Board members, and community residents.

YWCA Black History Contest
Served as a juror for student entries in the YWCA Black History Contest (1983-85).


2010 — With my husband, Ian, awarded the David P. Foulk Outdoor Ministries Award by the
              Board of Mission of American Baptist Churches of New York State for making “a
              significant contribution to the work of outdoor ministries in the church and/or
              region...(that) has raised outdoor ministries to a place of prominence.”

2008 — With my husband, Ian, awarded the Carlisle Adams Ecumenical Award by the Capital Area
              Council of Churches for “For their modeling of ecumenical relations on many levels and in
              many ways.”

2002 — Awarded a Certificate of Appreciation for volunteer service by the Capital Area Council of

1992 — Awarded a Distinguished Service Award (New York State Congress of Parents and Teachers) by
Albany High School Parent-Teacher-Student Association, Albany, NY.

1988 — Awarded a Certificate of Appreciation for "Unselfish Dedication to Our Children, Teachers, and
             School" from the School 16 community,
Albany, NY.

1987 — Awarded an Honorary Life Membership in the New York State Congress of Parents and Teachers
               by the School 16 Parent-Teacher Association,
Albany, NY.

1976 — Named in the national Outstanding Young Women of America Program upon nomination by the
               Rev. Dr. Norman Thomas, First Church in Albany, Albany, NY.

1966 — Named in Who's Who among Students in America's Universities and Colleges from the State
University of New York at Albany, Albany, NY.

             Named to Alpha Phi Gamma, the national journalism honorary.

             Named to Pi Gamma Mu, the national social sciences honorary.

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