OIB readers have requested the background of the three candidates endorsed last week for school board seats by the 90-member Democratic Town Committee. Since we aim to please, see below the letters submitted to the DTC by the Rev. Simon Castillo, Katie Roach Bukovsky and Brandon Clark. We will be happy to publish the background of an opposition slate seeking petition signatures to qualify for a September primary. They are City Councilman Andre Baker, former City Councilman Dave Hennessey and Howard Gardner, an ex candidate for the city’s legislative body. We also look forward to publishing the credentials of Republican, Connecticut Working Families Party and petitioning candidates for Board of Education. The letters submitted to the Democratic Town Committee follow:
Letter from Rev. Simon Castillo
I am writing this letter to express my interest in running for a seat on the Democratic slate for the Bridgeport Board of Education in the November 2013 municipal elections. I have a passion for education and a commitment to our children’s future. I believe I am uniquely qualified as a Democratic candidate for the BOE based on the following:
• I have served as the Pastor of Good Shepherd Christian Church for 49 years located in Bridgeport’s West Side for almost 50 years.
• Founder of the Helping Hand Center, which is a center for those who battle with substance abuse and serves as a residence for individuals who have contracted HIV/AIDS. We have been serving in this capacity for 40 years.
• I have served on the City’s Police Commission.
• Currently serve as the Fire Chaplain.
These brief bullet points are only a snapshot of my experience in our community. As you consider my request, I hope that my experiences demonstrate my knowledge on the issues, my leadership savvy, and my passion for putting children first. The vision and leadership that has arrived in Bridgeport must continue in order for our city’s children to have the best possible chance to succeed.
Rev. Dr. Simon Castillo
Letter from Katie Roach Bukovsky
I am writing this letter to express my interest in running for a seat on the Democratic slate for the Bridgeport Board of Education in the November 2013 municipal elections. I believe I am uniquely qualified as a Democratic candidate for the BOE based on the following:
• I have been in the field of education market research and database marketing for the past 21 years. As an Account Executive for MDR, a Dun & Bradstreet company, it is inherent to my position to keep up with the latest trends in education in order to provide superior education market insight to my client base. This includes Federal initiatives and funding, such as the Common Core Standards, the Education Reform movement, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), Race to the Top, Title I, Title II, and the now-exhausted Stimulus Funding. I have professional and personal contacts readily available to tap into the higher tier and complex world of the U.S. Department of Education, as well as access to information on Corporate and local grant opportunities; all of which can help bring meaningful change to the landscape of education in the Bridgeport Public School District.
• While I have never run for a municipal elected position, I have served on the annually elected board of the S.S. Norden Club in Bridgeport for the past 25 years, many of those spent as President of the S.S. Norden Ladies’ Auxiliary. I have proven experience in conducting regular monthly membership meetings, maintaining decorum and adhering to the By-Laws of the club and deferring to Roberts’ Rules when necessary. I believe this demonstrates my leadership abilities, as well as my ability, good judgment and intuition to keep a meeting of 40+ women under 40 minutes by knowing when to ask for motions to table as opposed to putting agenda items to a vote.
• For 10+ years, I served as a softball Little League coach and Vice President of Softball for the Black Rock Little League (BRLL), resigning prior to the 2012 season. I began my “career” with BRLL when my daughters (now 20 and 17) were coming up through the system. During that time, I connected with daughters and families from the “four comers” of the city, as BRLL Softball was open to all City residents, and stayed on the BRLL Board and served as a coach well beyond my daughters’ respective graduations from the league. This decision was due to my dedication to the girls and their families, believing that I made a positive impact in their lives. I still maintain the strong relationships with these families who know me fondly as “Coach Katie,” who I am confident will support me in my candidacy.
• As a parent, I have four children who have at some point in their elementary schooling attended a Public school in the City of Bridgeport. My three older children each attended Six-to-Six at some point during that span, and I currently have a son that is entering 8th grade at Black Rock School. Additionally, they have all “done time” in the Catholic school system, but I know that, if done right, the traditional Public school education they could ideally receive in the Bridgeport Public school system would far surpass the Private/Catholic sector. Working with their father, who had bought a house in Fairfield back in 2006, we made arrangements for my two older daughters (Casey, 20 and Colleen, 17) to live with their dad so they could take advantage of the Fairfield Public school system. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the opportunities that we have today for secondary education in the Bridgeport Public school system. With the developments that have arisen in the past 18+ months, I am excited about the prospect of having my youngest son (Danny, 12) have the opportunity to take advantage of a Public school system that provides programs such as the new Fairchild Wheeler Magnet Schools.
As you consider my request, I hope that I have demonstrated my knowledge on the issues, my leadership savvy, and my passion for putting children first, The vision that was brought to Bridgeport nearly two years ago must continue in order for our city’s children to have the best possible chance to succeed.
Katie Roach Bukovsky
Brandon Clark letter
The purpose of this letter is to introduce myself to you and to notify you of my intent to run for a seat on the Bridgeport Board of Education this fall. With your blessing, I would like to do so as an endorsed member of Bridgeport’s Democratic Party.
I first came to truly know Bridgeport in the fall of 2002 when I moved into the freshman dorms at Sacred Heart University. Like all incoming freshman, I knew that the next four years would have an immense impact on my life and I was eager to learn and grow. In the fall of my freshman year, I started my work study assignment in the Elias Howe Annex located in Bassick High School. I was placed in a 5th grade classroom with a young teacher who had an intense passion for teaching. My first assignment was to watch and observe. Over time, my responsibilities increased from watching to correcting and grading assignments, and finally to tutoring students who were falling behind their peers or having behavioral challenges. One thing that was clear during my time at the Annex was that there was large percentage of kids in that 5th grade classroom that were under-taught and/or unprepared for completing 5th grade work.
For three years I worked with the same teacher, in the same grade, and saw the same results. Year after year, I worked with 5th grade students who were not prepared to do 5th grade work. In fact, many of those students were not prepared to do 3rd grade work. During my last year at Sacred Heart, I worked at the Wilbur Cross Elementary School with another exceptional teacher and came across the same phenomenon; children, who were technically in the 5th grade but unable to do/complete work that was typically expected of children much younger. These experiences coupled with what I was learning in my classes about the achievement gap and the dire situation facing the Bridgeport public schools and the children it served led me to believe that my work in Bridgeport was just beginning.
In the fall of 2007, I enrolled in a master’s program in School Psychology at Fairfield University. While there, I started working in the early childhood education programs at Hall Neighborhood House on the East Side of Bridgeport. These two experiences highlighted the dissonance between the academic field of Early Childhood Education and what was actually being practiced in the Bridgeport Public Schools. For three years, I watched and helped as parents desperately searched for alternatives to their local neighborhood schools with varying levels of success. It broke my heart every time parents “lost out” on an opportunity to provide their children with a quality education and were forced to send them to the local school that they knew was unable to prepare them for a lifetime of success. It was through these experiences, and after multiple trips across the country, that I discovered my heart had found its home in Bridgeport.
In the fall of 2010, I started working for Achievement First Bridgeport Academy Elementary School. Achievement First had just opened a new Elementary school on the East Side of Bridgeport (a school that I had helped many of my Hall Neighborhood House families apply to). I was fortunate enough to secure a job working with the most challenging children enrolled in the school. Although stating I am fortunate to work with the most challenging children at a school may seem like hyperbole, it is indeed the truth. Many of the children come from families that look a lot like mine did while I was growing up: a single mom, sometimes working two jobs, sometimes not working at all, trying her best to raise a colored boy against all odds.
It is for these reasons and many more that I am hoping to run and win a seat on the Bridgeport Board of Education. For far too long, the children of Bridgeport have suffered from a lack of opportunity and lack of vision from the school board. My goal is to improve the district schools to the point where, by the time my newborn son is ready to enter school, my wife and I would feel comfortable sending him to ANY school in the district. I am well aware that this task is grave and challenging, but I truly believe that I am the most qualified person for this task. I would love to speak with you in more depth about my potential candidacy, anytime, at your convenience.
With thanks and my sincerest regards,