2018-19 PS/IS 217 PTA ELECTION: MAY 9 2018
NOMINEES ARE LISTED BY POSITION, ALPHABETICALLY BY SURNAME.
TRACEY DE BENEDICTIS & IRENA DURKOVIC (co-nominees)
Tracey De Benedictis: I am the parent of a kindergartner and a 2nd grader at PS/IS 217. I have served on the executive board for the past two years. As Vice President of Events, I chaired the Fall Festival and enjoy making all of our events feel special for our children. For the past 14 years, I have been involved with a non-profit that serves women and girls in the NYC area, and I bring that experience to the PTA board. The PTA's work building community and funding enrichment programs for all of our students has been a big part of our family's positive experience at 217. I look forward to continuing that work next year!
Irena Durkovic: I am running for a PTA co-president seat. I have been living on Roosevelt Island since 2009. Our family is a member of PS/IS 217 community since 2014 when my daughter enrolled in pre-K. She is currently attending the 2nd grade and my 3 year old son will soon join her.
I work full time as a registered nurse. My flexible work schedule will give me enough time to devote to PS/IS 217. Even though I have never been a PTA member, I have been a class parent for past 3 years and spent many hours volunteering for various school events. I have also volunteered my time to Roosevelt Island Residents Association and organized the annual Egg Hunt in 2017.
I love PS/IS 217 and would like to contribute to its growth. I am very excited to get involved and make sure that all kids have amazing experience and wonderful memories of our school!
TREASURER (Select one)
My name is HyeYeong Lee. My son, Michael is in 2nd grade. I hope I can help school to communicate with parents better so that more parents want to get involved in school, consequently are willing to contribute more.
My name is Ben Torrance---I am currently PTA Treasurer and on the School Leadership Team, and I am running for reelection as Treasurer. My two children will be in 2nd grade and 5th grade at PS/IS 217 next year.
Over the five years I've been involved in the school, the PTA has made huge progress. We contribute more to the school than ever before---our funding goes to more enrichments, more programs, and more events; and our organization has become more involved in school life and a better link between parents and the school leadership. Recently, we've begun helping the school fund capital improvements, like new cafeteria tables, music instruments, garden supplies, and the like---things that will benefit the school for years to come. The officers of the recent PTA boards have put in an enormous amount of work and built a strong relationship with the school's administration to achieve all this. I hope to serve another term on the board to help the PTA continue to build on that progress.
As Treasurer, it's been my responsibility to keep income and spending regular and transparent, and to complete the organization's reporting and tax returns. In the past year, I have replaced our old paper-based system for tracking income and expenses with an electronic one, which reduces the board's workload, gives the community better information about what the PTA does with its money, and ensures that every dollar is accounted for promptly and accurately. Our new systems, and the diligence of our board, also make sure that teachers and parents who lay out their own funds for school expenses are quickly reimbursed. I've also helped transition the PTA to a new platform for auction payments (which makes managing it much easier), and new electronic systems for donations and ticket sales, which reduce our fees for credit cards and make tracking contributions easier and more accurate. In the coming year, I plan to open an interest-bearing savings account (which the board and membership recently approved) to maximize our income, to assist with funding projects like the green roof, and to continue to ensure that our tax returns and Department of Education reports are timely, accurate, and made available to the public so our community is fully informed.
It's been an honor to serve the parents and teachers of our school, and I hope to have your support for a new term.
SADAF SHEIKH & KAREN WEINGARTEN (co-nominees)
Sadaf Sheikh: My name is Sadaf Sheikh and I am a Civil Servant from Pakistan. Currently ,we are here because of the posting of my husband in Pakistani embassy. My two sons study in grades 3 and 1 respectively. I appreciate the way PTA has been actively involved in making things better for our kids and I want to do my part.
Karen Weingarten: My name is Karen Weingarten, and I'm the parent of Ansel who is currently in kindergarten. I also have a younger child who is 3 and in preschool. I decided to run for a position in the PTA because I admired how hard the current executive members work to create a sense of community and make 217 a place that's fun and welcoming. This past year I was a class parent, and I enjoyed getting to know other parents in Ansel's class, and other parents across the school. It also gave me a chance to see how the PTA works, and I've been impressed with the level of communication and organization in the PTA and the school. I'd like to continue to help maintain this culture of community and open communication.
VICE-PRESIDENT (Select one)
JOSIE CHAMLA & EIRIK DAVEY-GISLASON (co-nominees)
Josie Chamla: I have two children at 217 and this is our second year at PS/IS 217. One of the things I really love about 217 is the amazing diversity among the families. My own family is multicultural, multiracial, and we’ve lived in several different countries including China, Uganda, New Zealand, and my home, Australia - and we feel right at home at 217! This year I’ve been very involved in the day-to day running of the PTA, coordinated the Book Fairs, supported Class Parents, spent many months helping coordinate the Auction, as well as managing the Bake team, the Popcorn team and the different teams of volunteers that help with PTA events and activities. It’s been really exciting to see so many new families joining the PTA teams and committees this year and really being invested and engaged in the numerous PTA events that support our school and our children. I’ve loved getting to meet so many interesting 217 families from all over the world, hearing your thoughts and ideas for the future of our school, and I hope to continue encouraging families to support the PTA and our school to ensure our children have a great experience during their time here!
Eirik Davey-Gislason: Eirik Davey-Gislason is the father of Cecilia Gislason (K004).and Sydney Gislason (2), and lives with his family in Jackson Heights, Queens. He works as a real estate professional and negotiation instructor in Manhattan and is originally from Minnesota. Eirik is a graduate of St. Olaf College and currently serves on the St. Olaf Alumni Board.and member of the St. Olaf Alumni Association in NYC. In his community, Eirik serves as co-Chair of Friends of Diversity Plaza and as a member of the Real Estate Board of New York's Rental Committee and Queens Committee. In 2016, Eirik was recognized for his community service and activism with a citation from the New York City Council and in 2017 Eirik was honored with the JHBG “Good Neighbor Award”. In his spare time, Eirik enjoys popping corn with the 217 Popstars!
Eirik is thrilled with the prospect of supporting the great work the 217 PTA has already done, and hopes to add value to the board by finding creative ways to raise money and continue to elevate the profile of PS/IS 217 for future students and families.
Dimaura is the proud mother of Dakota H. 3rd and Dleanna H. 4th grade. She is currently the PTA Vice President.
Dimaura is a team player and has excellent interpersonal skills which help parents feel welcome and involved. Dimaura believes that PS/IS 217 is a unique gem to our diverse community, and that its success depends on listening to and acknowledging the concerns of parents and students alike. Dimaura believes that it is critical to empower, encourage and engage parents in the school’s activities by creating opportunities for parents to support the school through volunteerism.
Dimaura introduced PS/IS 217 Talent Showcase which has been successful and well received by the RI community, parents and students.
She is looking forward to another year of growing, learning and elevating the experience at PS/IS 217.
VICE-PRESIDENT OF MEMBERSHIP
HEART ASHLEY & CHENDA BAO (co-nominees)
Heart Ashley: I have two boys (5 and 2 years old) who both love nature.
I moved to the U.S.A from Japan in 2007, and have lived on Roosevelt Island since then.
This year, I unexpectedly got involved in the PTA spring auction event and really enjoyed soliciting items and helping at the event. The school auction is a unique experience for me since we do not do it in Japan. The role of the PTA in Japan and here are very different, but ultimately we all care about our schools and our children. Getting involved in school events activities is such an interesting and unique experience about NY, and I would like to help support more ENL families to become active in our school community. I hope more families enjoy PTA activities as much as I do and enjoy learning about our school together.
Chenda Bao: I am Chenda Bao, mother to kindergartener, Louis Plasencia, and his sidekick almost 2-year-old brother, Darren. We've had a wonderfully welcome experience so far at P.S. 217, and I'd like to be part of that tradition of welcoming, including and connecting all families in our fantastic school community. Thank you so much for your consideration.
VICE-PRESIDENT OF EVENTS
JANET GRIFFIN & TARYN MERKL (co-nominees)
Janet Griffin: Janet Griffin has lived on Roosevelt Island for 14 years. She has been working in alumni relations and development in higher education for nearly 15 years. Currently she is the Director of Alumni Relations at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing where she develops and oversees alumni programming including lecture series, professional development, and social events. In addition she manages the Alumni Association board and a mentoring program.
Her daughter is a kindergartener at P.S. 217. Janet also coaches her daughter’s t-ball team on the island. She is excited for the opportunity to serve the school and the families in the community.
Taryn Merkl: My name is Taryn Merkl and I am running for Co-VP of Events. I have two children at 217 - a rising 2nd grader (Xia Torrance) and a rising 5th grader (Zev Torrance). I have been involved in the PTA since Zev's K year, when I served as the Class Parent Liaison and as a class parent. After that, I served as PTA Treasurer from 2014-2016, Vice-President from 2016-2017 and Co-Secretary for 2017-2018. For the past couple of years, I have been one of the individuals responsible for the PTA's communications - including the weekly e-newsletter Hawks' Happenings, emails from the PTA, email blasts, assisting with website content, and various other written correspondence. In addition, I have worked daily to assist the President, Treasurer & other PTA board members in the day-to-day operations of the PTA, as well as helping many of our event chairs in the promotion, planning and management of all of the PTA's events. In addition, I have served as the PTA's Silent Auction Chairperson since the 2014 Silent Auction; the Auction has consistently raised substantial funds for our school's enrichment programs. It has been an honor to serve on the PTA Executive Board for the last 5 years. During my time on the board, I pushed hard to reopen the school library, while also building strong relationships of trust with the administration, teachers and staff. We have also worked to increase family engagement opportunities at 217, and to improve communications between families and the school. I would like to continue the progress we have made, while also hosting fun events and working to ensure that we are able to raise sufficient funds to support 217's rich and diverse enrichment programs. Thank you in advance for your vote!
All parents are eligible to hold office unless they are employees of this school. All parents and teachers are eligible to vote unless they are supervisory staff (principal's, assistant principals, supervisors).
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Elections will be held:
The PTA positions of Treasurer and Vice President are contested positions and will need to be voted on by ballot on May 9th. All other PTA positions are uncontested and will be voted on by motion at the PTA Membership & Election Meeting starting at 8.40am.