UPDATE: Election results available here.

Amany Messieha Dgheim

Candidate for Ramapo Trustee

191 Cherry Lane, Airmont

Incumbent: No

Age: 54

Employment: Medical Practice Management

Education: Columbia University, School of Public Health, Doctoral Program in Environmental Sciences, DrPH ABD. University of Louisville, Microsurgery Basic and Advanced Certification. Cairo University, School of a Medicine and Surgery, MD. Private Vocational Instruction Certification

Tenure: Have lived in our current home in Airmont, NY for almost 22 years

messiehaa@aol.com
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amany-M-Dgheim-for-Ramapo-Central-School-Board/675015032567589

Q&A

Election Central: Why are you running for office or seeking re-election?

Dgheim: I have been committed to providing EVERY child in our district with a strong, meaningful and quality education that sets him or her for success, while maintaining a healthy and safe environment in our schools.

Throughout my PTA volunteer work of over sixteen years in Ramapo Central Schools, I have adopted and lived by PTAís mission, "Every Child, One Voice". The School Boardís main objective is an effective education for all children in a healthy and safe environment, which perfectly aligns with PTAís mission as well as mine. Therefore, I have considered a position on the Ramapo Central School Board a natural progression and another opportunity to serve the children of our district once I concluded my present term on the districtís PTA Council. At this time, I feel well informed and prepared for this important role. Having been immersed in our districtís schools for so many years, gaining first hand knowledge of its challenges and successes, and constantly communicating with all stake holders in our school system, has prepared me to effectively deal with the great responsibilities a position on the Board presents.

Serving at the Region PTA level has equipped me with a broader knowledge of the challenges facing public schools in NY State and across the board. Iíve dedicated a large part of my service in recent years to becoming familiar with issues unique to our district, as well as the successes and failures of other districts that we can learn from. I have also developed ties with NY State PTA through attending State legislation and education events, annual conventions and leadership training, focusing on grassroots advocacy efforts communicating the concerns of parents and teachers in our district and, most importantly, advocating for our children. I look forward to continuing this important role representing Ramapo Centralís School Board at the County, State and National levels.

When my husband and I decided to start our family, we chose to build our home in Airmont, NY. Our main incentive for establishing a home here was the strength of a Ramapo Central education for our future children. Our son, currently a college sophomore, and our daughter, a Suffern High School senior, received what we had hoped for and more. Theyíve each had great success, and more importantly, wonderful experiences in our schools. They both participated in varsity sports, theatrical productions, arts and music, which all helped shape the successful young adults theyíve grown up to be. I vow to do my best so EVERY child in our district has access to the same and more academic and extracurricular opportunities.

Although my first and foremost priority in running for a position on the Ramapo Central School Board is the education and well being of our children, the success of our school district naturally impacts the entire community. As residents who have diligently invested into our homes and hope they maintain their values well into the future, all of us members of this community have a vested interest in the success of its school system. I hope to do my share in assuring the success of Ramapo Central students and our district. With one child in college and the second very soon to follow, I am now able to dedicate time and effort above and beyond whatís expected for this significant volunteer position.

Election Central: What in your personal, civic or professional experience recommends your election or return to office?

Dgheim: 1. I have volunteered in Ramapo Central Schools for over 16 years through PTA and other volunteer organizations, starting as classroom parent at the elementary level (1998) until serving as President of the Ramapo Central PTA Council (2010-2012), the highest PTA leadership position at the district level. I am currently serving a two-year term as Immediate-Past Council President until June 2014.
Through many years of volunteer work, Iíve been actively involved in the Ramapo Central community with a primary focus on serving the children of our district. I have gradually stepped up to leadership positions chairing various committees at Cherry Lane Elementary, serving as Vice President and President of the Suffern Middle School PTA and chairing many committees and school-wide events as well. Iíve also volunteered on several Suffern athletic teams, in addition to musical and theatrical productions. As Council President, I coordinated among all PTA units in Ramapo, acted as liaison between Central Office, the BOE and PTA leaders in all seven district schools, in addition to spearheading initiatives that encouraged cooperation and collaboration among all PTA units in Ramapo Central. Being immersed in our schools and serving in a multitude of roles have provided me with a very strong insight into our districtís culture, successes and challenges. The knowledge Iíve gained in over 16 years of service qualifies me to make sound judgments and decisions that benefit the children of Ramapo Central. I have also become extremely comfortable communicating professionally and effectively with all parties involved, including School Board members, district and school administrators, faculty, supporting staff, parents and students. These strong communication channels Iíve strived to develop over the years will be instrumental when interacting with all those key groups on behalf of the Ramapo Central School Board.

2. In more recent years, I have served as Central Hudson Region PTAís Associate Director. The parent organization oversees and coordinates among all PTA units in Rockland, Orange and Sullivan Counties. Through this leadership role, I have attended numerous conferences held by PTA, school board and superintendent organizations at the Region, State and National levels. These events have been extremely informative, providing me first hand knowledge of the challenges facing public education, not only in Ramapo Central schools, but across the board. Sitting at arms-length from NY State Education Department officials, Board of Regents members, State Senators for education, Congress members, etc. provides a valuable opportunity to learn the facts, the reasoning, and plans of action. It also allows me to ask the pertinent questions and express the concerns of our constituents to those in-charged with decision making. I plan to continue my involvement at this level of PTA leadership while serving on the Ramapo Central School Board as I believe having a representative, such as myself, who is able to understand and communicate information, as well as advocate for the children of our district, will immensely benefit our schools.

3. As an outcome of my educational background and diverse employment history I bring a valuable combination of skills that will be extremely useful on the RCSD BOE. As a physician who pursued graduate education in public health, I am able to effectively study and improve district policies related to a wide variety of physical and mental health issues affecting school-aged children. Food-borne and other allergies, childhood obesity, diabetes, developmental conditions, outbursts of communicable diseases, substance abuse, and teenage suicide are among many of the challenges that currently face our children and their families. I serve as Central Hudson Region PTAís Health and Wellness Chair, and on a number of Rockland County Department of Health committees, including the School Health & Wellness Coalition Steering Committee, Health Fair Committee and Physical Activity Workgroup, all of which provide me with access to great resources in this area. Together with other members of the Board and district administrators, I can help implement plans of action that constantly adapt to medical and environmental challenges specific to our district.

4. My work in medical management for the past 19 years has provided me with extensive administrative skills that can be applied to the School Board, including expertise in the areas of accounting, personnel, benefits, state and federal regulations, record keeping, electronic and verbal communications, etc. Most importantly, with several district staff contracts up for renegotiations in the near future, my very strong knowledge of and ability to dissect and compare medical insurance plans and benefits will be extremely valuable, especially considering their constantly rising costs and large proportion in our school budget.

5. I have taught Microsurgery to surgical chiefs of service, attendings, fellows, resident surgeons, as well as to medical students. I have also taught Anatomy and Physiology, Patient Care and Clinical Diagnostic Procedures to ultrasound and nuclear medicine technologists. I taught public health to college students. Furthermore, I taught and chaired a medical assistant vocational program for adult students whose highest education level was a high school diploma or GED. In spite of the huge range of educational and skill levels of my students, I have been able to successfully relay information to individuals at any level in a language and format that is effective for each audience. I plan to utilize these skills when communicating pertinent information, on behalf of the School Board, to our district parents and taxpayers, assuring itís properly understood and successfully utilized. As a member of the Ramapo Central School Board, I plan to maintain ongoing, respectful and professional communication with all staff and employees of the district as well.

Election Central: What would be your top three priorities if you are elected or re-elected?

Dgheim: 1. I plan to be an active member of Ramapo Central School Boardís new advocacy effort, utilizing all available platforms at the County, Region, State and National levels, to advocate for the children of our district. At the top of my advocacy priorities is "eliminating" NY Stateís Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA), which has withheld valuable State aid from our schools since 2010, thereby increasing the financial burden on districts to balance their budgets. Even this year, in spite of a State budget surplus, NY State withheld over $2 million of promised aid from our district. Other ongoing priorities will be advocating against the charter schools tax credit, and the constantly growing list of unfunded State mandates, as well as for a better, more educationally sound implementation of the Common Core Standards and Annual Professional Performance Reviews (APPR), reducing the number of tests children are taking, and constantly advancing health and wellness initiatives in the school environment.

2. Another priority of utmost significance is building strong communication and full transparency with all parties involved in our school system, including administrators, faculty, staff, parents and the community at large. As everyone becomes aware and educated on the important issues, District leadership and the School Board can earn the trust and support of all those involved, even when tough decisions need to be made. I plan to initiate viable two-way communication between the BOE and all other key organizations in Ramapo Central as we all work as a team towards the common goal of providing our children with the best and most meaningful education.

3. Establishing sound financial practices and internal procedures that reflect a strong fiscal responsibility and accountability, including checks and balances, as well as regular timely audits that discover flaws early on and correct them before they are compounded. We must protect taxpayer dollars and assure funds are used wisely, especially in such tough economic times. With hard work, creative budgeting, eliminating waste and advocating for the return of State and Federal funding, our district should project and plan for a healthy financial future.