Two candidates seeking seats on the Board of Education

On June 9, North Colonie residents will elect two candidates to five-year terms, without compensation, to the Board of Education. Seats are not at large and candidates had to declare what seat they were running for at the time they picked up petitions. The open seat of current Board of Education member Linda Harrison is uncontested. The open seat of David Gaynor has one candidate, Samuel Johnson.

Residents will vote on the school budget proposal and Board of Education members via absentee ballot. 

Linda HarrisonLinda Harrison

Linda Harrison is seeking her fourth term on the Board of Education. She is currently serving her eighth year as President of the Board, is chair of the Community Board Relations committee and is co-chair of the Policy committee. She has also served as co-chair of the Employee Relations, Audit and Curriculum committees. Linda is the current Board representative to the Loudonville PTA. She is employed by the New York State Education Department as an educational specialist in the Office of State Assessment. Linda was a social studies teacher for 35 years, 34 years at Shaker High School. She graduated from the State University of New York at Albany with a B.A. and M.A. in social studies education.

“I have had a life long commitment to teaching, learning and to North Colonie,” said Harrison. “As a member of the Board of Education, I have had the privilege of being able to continue my service to the district and utilize my 35 years of classroom teaching experience and my work in test development in a district-wide decision making capacity. I have a deep understanding and respect for the history and traditions of the North Colonie Central School District. At the same time, I am mindful of the importance of forward-thinking about how best to promote equity and an outstanding educational experience for all children. We have to be reflective and consider how we can offer more opportunities to our students and do an even better job when it comes to student outcomes. We must also continue to prioritize the integration of social and emotional learning into our student’s school experience as we work together to achieve our mission.”

The social and economic disruption that has resulted from the coronavirus pandemic has been unsettling for all of us. The current state of the economy and the uncertainty that it has created will have enormous budgetary consequences for the District. The challenge that we face this year and for the foreseeable future is how to best preserve the fabric of North Colonie’s outstanding comprehensive educational and extracurricular programs in the face of a scarcity of resources. Complementing this will be the Board’s unwavering commitment to fulfilling our fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers in our community in a respectful and thoughtful way.

Governing a school district is a team effort. The Board’s partnership with our Superintendent and central office team has promoted a truly collaborative approach to problem solving and decision-making. I am optimistic and confident that all of us working together can help ensure North Colonie’s sustainability as one of the finest school districts in New York State.

Samuel JohnsonSamuel Johnson

Where are you currently employed? Please give your title and briefly describe the work that you do.

I’m currently a Senior Cybersecurity Engineer for GE. My job focuses on improving the security of the software created and run by GE Gas Power Systems. That involves a combination of building tools to locate potential problems, researching best practices for developing secure software, and working with application teams to help them find and fix problems in their software and development practices.

I also teach two variants of a course on Database Systems as an adjunct professor at RPI.

What is your educational background, including high school and college(s) attended, degrees received and in what subject areas?

I graduated from Upper Arlington High School in Upper Arlington, Ohio (a suburb of Columbus), after which I earned a B. S. in Computer Science from RPI, graduating Cum Laude in 2006. I spent a few years in the Navy, earning my wings as a Naval Aviator in 2008. When a family member’s health problems ended my naval career, I returned to the Capital Region and earned an M. S. in Information Technology from RPI in 2011.

Please list any North Colonie activities, such as PTA, Music Parents, Sport Boosters, district or school committees, etc., in which you are involved.

I’ve been a member of the Blue Creek PTA for a number of years, being most actively involved with the Bike Rodeo, and I have served as one of their representatives on the district Budget Committee for the past four budget seasons. I have also served on the Building Council and the Safety Committee for Blue Creek School the past two years.

Please list any community activities, such as Little League, Girl Scouts, church groups, civic/political organizations, etc., in which you are involved.

I’m a member of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Latham, where I’ve been the organist for the past two years.

Please provide a brief statement explaining why you want to be a member of the North Colonie Board of Education.

I believe that high-quality public education is one of the foundations of a strong community. North Colonie has a long tradition of striving to provide all its students with excellent education, and I’ve had the opportunity to witness that firsthand as the parent of two current North Colonie students (as well as two future North Colonie students). I wouldn’t be who I am today without the education provided to me by the community in Ohio where I grew up, and I feel an obligation to work to ensure the same opportunities are here for the generations to come.