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Meet the Grand Island School Board candidates

Fri, May 12th 2023 08:45 am

The Grand Island Central School District budget and trustee election will be Tuesday, May 16. In this article, we meet the candidates.

For those with an absentee ballot, the form must be received by the district clerk’s office no later than 5 p.m. on the day of the vote. The envelope can be dropped in the mailbox outside the district door (door No. 66.)

For more information, voters can visit the Grand Island Central School District website at www.grandislandschools.org, or call 716-773-8801.

The following biographies were submitted by the candidates.

Jennifer Wilkinson Chin

Jennifer is a VP, creative director at FCB Health, a health care advertising agency, and works 100% remotely from her home office on Grand Island. She is a Grand Island Senior High School graduate who recently returned to Grand Island because of her love of the community and all it offers. Jennifer holds a BS in biology and psychology and a MS in psychology, with a focus on biopsychology. Together with her husband, John, she has raised two children, Emma (27) and Matthew (25), both of whom have obtained advanced degrees. Emma earned her MA in art education and is a teacher in Baltimore, and Matthew received his MS in mechanical engineering.

Jennifer has contributed to public schools in the past, serving as a volunteer writing coach at the elementary, middle and high school level over several years as part of a program called The Writers Room. She also served as a PTA health and wellness liaison in Montclair, New Jersey. In that role, she attended a state bullying prevention training class, actively participated in bullying prevention workshops in the school district, and helped to execute several health and fitness initiatives in the schools. In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys walking to stay fit, as well as boating and kayaking on the Niagara.

Jennifer is a firm believer in the value of education and attributes her success, in part, to the solid education she received here in the Grand Island schools. She wants to ensure that our current and future students can say the same as adults, that GI schools provided them with the solid foundation that launched them into successful, fulfilling careers. If elected, she hopes to do so by:

√ Ensuring access to all programs (providing a means for all to be able to afford to participate in programs that advance their education, such as DECA).

√ Fiscally responsible budgets that support our teachers in providing a high-quality education to all GI students.

√ Safeguarding our students’ physical and mental health through continued support of current programs and expansion as needed.

Ashli Skura Dreher

Dr. Ashli Skura Dreher, New York State Teacher of the Year for 2014, has been teaching for 27 years and works at Lewiston-Porter, teaching special education. She has earned two National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) certificates as a middle level generalist and exceptional needs specialist, and is an active NBPTS educator serving on the NYS Teacher of the Year Council and Orleans-Niagara Teacher Center Board.

Dreher was inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame in 2017, and she has a wealth of knowledge in the field to continue to bring to her position as a Grand Island Board of Education Trustee.

In 2002, Dreher earned a School District Leadership Certificate from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and she completed her doctorate at the University of Rochester in the teaching and curriculum program in 2022. She earned a master’s degree from D’Youville College in special education in 1998. Dreher was selected for the Canisius College Distinguished Alumni Award, where she earned an undergraduate degree in elementary education and English in 1995, while participating in three athletic programs and appearing on stage in Little Theater and chorale performances.

Having written and spoken extensively about a myriad of educational issues locally, nationally and internationally throughout Europe and in Peru and China, Dreher has the expertise needed to serve on a school board. She is a contributing author to the book titled “Confronting Oppressive Assessment: How Policy-Makers are Rethinking Current Educational Reforms,” and the Educator’s Voice article, “Functional Literacy in a Life Skills Curriculum.” She also served as the New York State United Teachers’ Education and Learning Trust regional coordinator for 10 years to organize turnkey training and professional development for school employees, including teachers, school-related professionals, and nurses. She has also spoken at numerous state and national conferences.

Dreher produced and hosted a television program to highlight outstanding public school teachers called “Inside the Classroom,” which was selected for National Alliance for Community Media Awards and aired on local channels weekly for three seasons.

Dreher has two daughters, Heavyn and Skye, and a fiancé, Rick, all of whom have been supportive of her endeavors. Heavyn is a 2014 graduate of Grand Island High School and 2019 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently a medical student at Tulane University in New Orleans. Skye is a 10th-grade student at Grand Island High School. Dreher enjoys watching Skye play indoor travel and school volleyball and beach volleyball for the AVP with Santa Cruz Volleyball Club in California and Optimum Beach in Tampa, as well as basketball for school and travel teams. Both of Dreher’s daughters have participated in the Grand Island music program and DECA business program at our schools.

Andrew Grinchishin

My name is Andrew Grinchishin, and I am running for the Grand Island School Board. I am a first-generation Ukrainian-American and a lifelong Grand Islander. I graduated from Grand Island High School in 2014. My wife, Mariya, and I purchased our first home on Countryside Lane. We are the parents of an 8-month-old son (Nathan), and we are now taxpayers in our school district!

Working with youth has been a priority of mine for quite some time. I am a deacon and youth pastor at Living Hope Fellowship, a church located right over the South Grand Island Bridge in Tonawanda. I have taught Sunday school, organized youth trips and counseled young people for many years prior to my decision to run for school board.

I am running for a seat on the Grand Island School Board to promote continuity of education in our school district and to ensure that, in our post-COVID world, our students can fully return to normalcy.

Transparency is of upmost importance when dealing with hard-earned taxpayer dollars. As a school board member, I pledge to always be available to answer your questions about where our taxpayer dollars are being spent. I promise to always be a good steward of the money we pay to keep Grand Island Schools up and running. Currently, I am involved in managing the budget for both my family business and church.

As a school board member, I am interested to hear what each shareholder in our district has to say. Parents deserve to be heard in matters relating to the education of their children. Teachers need to be supported in their classrooms. Every shareholder in our district, teachers and parents, should have a voice and a say in the matters affecting Grand Island’s schools.

Our school board needs a fresh set of eyes and ideas. I love Grand Island, and I think our schools are very good, but I think the communication and link to the community is broken. I ask for your vote, and I look forward to serving our community and our students as a Grand Island School Board trustee.

Please vote at the Grand Island High School on Tuesday, May 16. Any Grand Island resident who is 18 years old or older is eligible to vote. You do not have to be a registered voter!

Susan Anstett Marston

I am a lifelong resident of Grand Island and a proud graduate of Grand Island High School. I received a BBA with a concentration in accounting from Niagara University. I am married to Pete Marston, also a proud Grand Island High School graduate, and we have a son in 10th grade at Grand Island High School.

I spent 15 years working as an accountant in the private sector. I made a career change when my son was born. I currently work at home as a logistics coordinator, which allows me to be an active part of my son's academic community, as well as his other activities.

In 2017, I was a recipient of the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year Award for community service. I was honored by the Western New York Educational Service Council in 2022 in recognition of my exemplary contribution to the students I serve. I have served on the Grand Island School Board of Education since 2013, seven years as vice president, where I believe I have balanced my commitment to the interest of all stakeholders and have never wavered from my commitment to our students. I enjoy running, biking, snowmobiling and scrapbooking.

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