Two seats with three-year terms on the Board of Education are up for grabs on the Peekskill Board of Education on Tuesday, May 15 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Peekskill High School.
President Lisa Aspinall-Kellawon is the lone candidate in the race. Also running are Marie DiNardi, Pamela Hallman Johnson, Allen Jenkins, Jr. and Myriam Pauta.
Aspinall-Kellawon is seeking a third term. Her goal is to be an advocate for children by helping them receive a sound education. She believes education opens the doors to most opportunities and provides a foundation from which one can grow and self-actualize, while being a primary building block in a prosperous and financially responsible life.
She brings with her more than 25 years of teaching experience, most of which she gathered during her time teaching at the Central Harlem School District in New York City. There, she began her career at an early childhood education school servicing students from Pre-K to Grade 2 as a Title I math teacher, second grade common branch teacher, math coach and teacher trainer.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in business from the College of New Rochelle and a Master’s degree in Multicultural Education from the College of Mount St. Vincent. She is also a member of the group SPARC (Social Progress Advocates for Real Change) and a member of the Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Peekskill.
DiNardi has lived in Peekskill for 15 years. She participated as a community member on the search committee for the district’s new superintendent and believes great things are happening in the Peekskill schools and success is ahead with a spirited and competent leader such as Dr. Mauricio on board.
She is retired from a lifelong career in education. She began as a preschool special education teacher and then Program Coordinator at the Children’s School for Early Development, of the Arc of Westchester. She then taught grades K-5 as a resource room teacher and inclusion specialist in the Bedford Central School District for 10 years. After becoming the district wide Coordinator for Elementary Special Education she later became the districts’ Chairperson for the Committee on Special Education for grades K-5 where she developed and honed her skills in leadership and teamwork. Rounding out her experience with learners of all ages, she has also been an Instructor at Manhattanville College, preparing graduate students in Master’s of Education programs.
As an advocate for all children she has created programs to meet an observed need. In 1995 she wrote a grant for the New York State Education Department creating the first preschool class in an integrated setting in Westchester to provide education for children with special needs alongside their typical peers. This model continues today and she is proud to say that Peekskill’s Uriah Hill is home to two of these classes, co-taught with the Children’s School.
Hallman-Johnson and her husband, Reginald J. Johnson, have lived in Peekskill for 15 years and have three daughters, one a graduate of Peekskill High School now a senior in college and two attending Peekskill High School. She has long been an advocate of quality public school education. She is currently a Special Education Teacher (English grades 9-12) at New Rochelle High School and has more than 20 years of experience.
She has been employed as an accountant for Pepsi and a Trust and Estate paralegal for Clifford Chance Law Firm in NYC. She has worked for Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES, Lakeland Central School District and the New York City Department of Education. She has been employed as a teacher’s aide, substitute teacher, and special education teacher all at the secondary level. As an emergent leader, Hallman-Johnson has been employed as a Special Education Coordinator and a Transition Coordinator.
She is a vested member of the Peekskill City School District. She regularly attends and participates in SEPTO meetings and she has been employed by the district as a substitute teacher and a LEAP teacher. She has worked as a teacher leader for the Peekskill Middle School LEAP Program and she has served on the school district’s FOCUS team under former Superintendent Dr. David Fine. Hallman-Johnson has also served as a school building and district leader administrative intern for the district. Pamela holds a B.B.A. in Accounting, Paralegal Certification, M.S. in Adolescent Education, M.S. in Education, an Advanced Certificate in School Building Leadership, an Advanced Certificate in School District Leadership and a NYS School Building Leadership Certification. Hallman-Johnson stated that her educational philosophy can be summed up as this: “Paving the way for every student every day.”
Allen Jenkins, Jr.
Jenkins is Director of the Evening Division and Special Academic Programs at Monroe College, dedicated to assisting students on achieving a higher level of learning so that they become more competitive in today’s market place.
He has worked in higher education for more than 15 years in many capacities; finance, academics, academic advising, coaching, and as a college administrator. “This requires me to work closely with academics, administrative offices, school deans, directors, and the Vice President of Academics. The focus is providing students with best college experience and giving them the opportunity to better their lives and careers,” he stated.
During his career, he has organized and established several youth developmental programs through athletics with an emphasis on building strong ties between the participants, the community, going to college and getting a job. He has spoken publicly at several high schools and community centers to encourage youths to continue to reach for the stars through their academic and athletic abilities. “All of these experiences have given me a perspective on what is needed in our community to prepare our students for higher education and beyond. I am a firm believer in the saying “it takes a village to raise a child,” he stated.
He holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Alderson Broaddus University and Master of Business Administration in Business Management from Monroe College, allows me to serve on the Curriculum, Standards, Policies, and Compliance (CSPC) Committee and the Academic Affairs Committee that help create policies, introduce new majors and set best practices for the college community.
Jenkins was born, raised, and resides in Peekskill. He and his wife are both Peekskill High School graduates and have three young children who will attend and currently attend the Peekskill City School District.
Born in White Plains, Pauta came to Peekskill with her family in 2000 when her parents bought their first home. She began her academic career in 2nd grade at Oakside Elementary School. As the eldest child of four in her Ecuadorian-American family, she was the first in her family to attend college and has played a huge role in her younger siblings’ academic lives.
As a student, she received English as Second Language (ESL) classes for one year and received additional reading and math support until 6th grade. Her mother would take her to the library and placed her in the LEAP program so that she would be able to perform at her grade level.
She earned placement in several AP courses, the SUNY Albany research program, college classes from Monroe College and SUNY Westchester Community College (SUNY WCC). While in Peekskill High School (PHS), she was an active member of the Interact club and participated as a volunteer at Drum Hill Senior Living, Earth Cleanup Day, and the Salvation Army. She volunteered at the Assumption Church as 2nd grade CCD teacher assistant. Additionally, she was a member of the National Honor Society, National Science Honor Society, and Latino Culture Club. She graduated in the top 10 with an advanced regents diploma from PHS in 2011.
She went on to obtain her associates degree in social sciences from SUNY WCC. She then became a Colin Powell Fellow in Leadership & Public Service and a Skadden, Arps Honors student in Legal Studies at the City College of New York (CCNY). She graduated as magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in political science and minor in public policy & public affairs.
Upon graduation, Pauta has returned to Peekskill High School to give current students advice on personal statements, scholarship essays, and college opportunities and campus life. She is currently gathering a group of Peekskill alums from classes of 2010 to 2017 to help edit personal statements, mentor, and share college/professional experiences with current PHS students.
She has worked as a paralegal/legal assistant at a Manhattan law firm. She is fluent in Spanish, and in the last year, she has participated in several events sponsored by the Peekskill Hispanic Community and Comite Ecuadoriano Por La Partia. She has also volunteered in Cuenca, Ecuador as an English teacher and renovation project leader to install new bathrooms, tile floors, gardens, and to sand and paint walls for Hogar Miguel Leon Orphanage.
Pauta is currently obtaining her master’s degree in urban planning from New York University Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service (NYU Wagner). She wants to become an advocate for all school children. She believes that her personal experience in the Peekskill City School District (PCSD), her educational/work/volunteer experience, her Spanish fluency, and her involvement with the Peekskill community will help unite and strongly represent all students of PCSD.