Never One to Be Called a Slacker

Never One to Be Called a Slacker:Next Tuesday is Laura Slack’s last School Board meeting. After nine years on the Board, the last four as president, she’s stepping down.

Published June 26, 2015 3:50 PM
3 min read

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laura-editNever One to Be Called a Slacker:
Next Tuesday is Laura Slack’s last School Board meeting. After nine years on the Board, the last four as president, she’s stepping down.

By Robin Jovanovich

lauraNext Tuesday is Laura Slack’s last School Board meeting. After nine years on the Board, the last four as president, she’s stepping down.

“There’s no better place to volunteer than the Rye City School District, especially if you’re passionate about education,” said Slack, a former history teacher and the mother of three.

She has enjoyed working closely with her colleagues, administrators, faculty, and staff, and she is grateful to the community. “The community is willing to have a dialogue and bring its expertise.” Slack added, “You can see it in the District’s results. Our children do so well and have so many opportunities.”

She’s not one to brag, but when asked to recall all the good things that have happened under her watch, she beams when talking about: the addition of Architecture to the curriculum; the new report card coming out for the elementary schools (“it will be more about developmental process”), the success of the May senior intern program (“the seniors worked at tech jobs, in schools, in every field, which is wonderful because it’s the time of their life to explore”); adding Science 21 in elementary school; moving Algebra to eighth grade from ninth; offering Algebra II in freshmen year (“giving them more Math education will help them in Science, and colleges want kids to arrive having already studied Calculus”); and the fact that more and more kids are taking two foreign languages (“arriving in sixth grade having studied Spanish, they can move to French, Latin, or Mandarin”).

The Science Wing, she said, is “the community’s building. More and more students will graduate with a deeper understanding of science as a result of having the opportunity to do experiments, an opportunity all of them didn’t have before.”

Slack wants the community to know how dedicated all the employees are, and how hard they work, long after the last school bell. “One of the things we do well is build relationships between teachers and students. All thoughts are welcome; we encourage advocacy. The District is always looking at how we can do better. Our literacy initiative in the past two years is indicative.”

There isn’t an aspect of the District that Slack isn’t familiar with, on top of. Before being elected to the Board, she was on the Curriculum Council and the Budget Analysis Committee.

She’s a born advocate and a great fighter for what she believes in. It’s not surprising to learn that she double majored in History and Education and minored in Economics in college and was on the New Trier High School debate team in Winnetka, Illinois. (So was her husband Richard, an attorney at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP in the City, and a Rye City Councilman.)

When the Slacks decided to move out of the city 19 years ago, Laura did a lot of research on area public schools before they chose Rye.

As an incoming School Board member nine years ago, Slack went to BOCES for a day as part of her training. “I spent the afternoon with the students, who made our lunch. I don’t think most people realize the breadth of what BOCES can do. Science 21 came out of BOCES.” She went on, “All of the kids graduate with a Rye High degree and come out with an education that prepares them for jobs in any number of fields — automotive design, culinary arts, graphic design.”

A good School District embraces all of its students and different needs, she remarked. “It must always also be scrutinizing its programs to make sure they are doing well, making fiscally prudent decisions, and ensuring that all children leave here to fulfill their potential.”

When we sat down over a cup of coffee earlier this week, Slack spoke tenderly about the Rye High School graduation, at which she handed out diplomas the previous weekend (“I always bring a tissue). She was looking forward to the two Moving Up ceremonies this week.

Laura Slack’s Board leadership is indisputable, so is the fact that she will be missed and remembered.

 

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