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July 16th, 2014

First Latino Superintendent in NECSD

Lillie Howard

Congratulations are definitely warranted for The Newburgh Enlarged City School District’s Board of Education for having the wisdom and fortitude that they displayed at their Board meeting on July 1st. They made an historic move in the appointment of the first Latino Superintendent, Dr. Roberto Padilla along with electing an African-American President, Philip Howard. Wow! In the past we’ve had an African-American Superintendent (Dr. Laval Wilson) and an African-American Board President (Runston Lewis) serving at the same time but never a Latino and African American at the same time. Wow! Wow!

Taking into consideration the fact that upwards of 75% of the students within the Newburgh Enlarged School District are African-American and Latino this was a very smart move on the school board’s behalf. I say this due to the fact that there are only about 20% minority school teachers in this school district which means that the empathy needed towards the upward 75% is seriously lacking. This could largely be a contributing factor in the high drop-out rates that we have in this school district. A lot of these students are carrying a lot of pain within them due to the many things that most of them are being faced with. Yes, a lot of students might be facing some of the same things but they are not being faced with the double whammy of being low-income and disadvantaged.

Low-income and disadvantaged students are being faced with many challenges in their lives which spills over into the schools. How does one identify with this if they’ve never experienced it. Most of our teachers have no idea and cannot identify with what the causative factors are for these student’s behavior but, more than likely, Dr. Padilla and Mr. Howard can. When students are going through a crisis they need help to alleviate that pain and if a teacher has never been there or done that how can they recognize what’s really going on? These students need empathy not sympathy for empathy draws close and sympathy stands at a distance. They also don’t need ambiguity they need compassion. How can one give compassion if they’ve never walked in those same shoes?

The Board’s reason for choosing Dr. Padilla to be the superintendent of the schools of the District was because of his passion for education and his ability to inspire and bring change to the District. The Board also considered input from District professionals and non-instructional staff, as well as students and community members.

Evidently Mr. Howard’s passion, fortitude and commitment on the board for the past two years was a major causative factor in being elected as the president. Hopefully, the NTA will work with these two men towards moving the Newburgh Enlarged City School District in the right direction. This will be beneficial to the taxpayers, the students, the parents and most of all to the city of Newburgh. Never forget that what’s not done in the schools eventually becomes a part of what’s happening or not happening in our individual communities, especially in the city of Newburgh. It’s time for those that are seriously concerned to join hands and start working together. For a house that is divided will definitely eventually fall apart.

Let me end this with the words of Voltaire and also Johaan Wolfgang Von Goethe: "Common Sense is not so common" (Voltaire). "Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes" (Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe).

This is Lillie’s Point of View and I’m just having my say!

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