Great Neck Board of Education Trustee Jeff Shi has announced he is running for re-election so he can continue to contribute to the safety and education of all district students.
Shi, who is running for a third term on the board, told Blank Slate Media Friday that making students feel comfortable to pursue academic excellence is his main priority if re-elected in May.
“Most of all, from my immigrant perspective, making sure all students feel welcome and safe in the school settings is number one for me,” Shi said in a phone interview.
Having the district reiterating that intolerance and bullying are not welcome in Great Neck, he said, will set an example for students to learn acceptance of one another.
Both of Shi’s parents being educators in China, he said, allowed him to get early insight into what it meant to aid in students’ academic and extracurricular success.
Now, after serving six years on the board, Shi said he wants to continue to help the district grow in a variety of ways and that his knowledge of the system and passion to give back to the community makes him the ideal candidate.
“I love Great Neck, I’ve lived here for a long time and I want to help support the community,” Shi said. “I strongly believe we need new people or lifelong residents to support the school district.”
Shi, who works for the New York City Department of Information Technology & Communications, has lived in Great Neck for the past 11 years and has a daughter attending Great Neck South High School.
Touting Great Neck’s status as one of the best school districts in the nation, Shi stressed the importance of finding the best superintendent to lead the school district, following the retirement announcement of current Superintendent Teresa Prendergast in January.
“We will hire the highest quality individual, but I do think that the most important thing is for a superintendent to understand our community and have an effective way to communicate with our teachers, administrators, students and community members at large,” Shi said.
Shi also helped launch a demographic study the district is currently conducting to track the enrollment of school-age children on the peninsula.
With more multi-family apartment complexes and housing units being proposed in Great Neck’s villages, he said, it is imperative the district stay on top of population trends and be prepared to accommodate them.
“All of a sudden we’re seeing these new developments come to Great Neck, which I think is healthy,” Shi said. “As a community, we need to grow over time, but there’s a concern whether that growth is sustainable and what impact it will have on our public schools.”
When asked about the school district’s community and if national divisiveness is being felt on a more local scale, Shi said, while the school district remains viewpoint neutral in its curriculum, empowering students with the proper knowledge of every community’s contribution to society is vital.
The board, Shi said, has asked administrators tasked with curriculum development to look into Asian American Pacific Islander education.
“I do feel optimistic about the future because the younger generations will be equipped with this knowledge,” Shi said. “Our kids are prepared to deal with situations.”
Shi lauded the support the community has shown the district since he began serving on the board in 2017, mentioning that residents are being charged for quality education and overall school experience.
Getting the maximum out of what taxpayers spend each year while remaining fiscally responsible, Shi said, is something he hopes to continue for the next three years.