“Every immigrant kid has that pivotal moment when she realizes what she’s up against: new culture, no friends, the feeling of awkwardness associated with growing pains exponentially magnified.
I was that kid at age ten when I came to America. My parents worked long hours to make ends meet. With no relatives nearby, for me, the school was an extension of home and teachers were more than just teachers – they were essential role models.”
“I am a product of the New Jersey public system. I first enrolled in the Palisades Park middle school, then Paramus High School. I had wonderful teachers who made me comfortable in their classes, and challenged me to get the most out of myself. I still remember Ms. Kratnoff who got me hooked on literature and reading, so much so that I later majored in English Literature. I still remember most of my classes, especially AP. Some I struggled with initially but teachers encouraged me not to give up and gave me positive support. All worked out for the best in the end, and I am grateful to my teachers.
I used to dream that one day I could come back to help the New Jersey public school system that has done so much for me. The system, particularly the teachers, gave me much needed support and guidance during a challenging time and gave me a boost that has changed my life for the better.”
“For this reason, the Ridgewood Board of Education role has a profound personal meaning to me. I am here to serve and do right by the students, the teachers and the system, and the community that generously supports it. The role is my opportunity to pay it forward.”
(That’s a photo of me with Ms. Kratnoff. Years later, Ms. Kratnoff wrote to me when I graduated from Brown hoping that “you’re not working too hard”)