By Cady Kuzmich
CLIFTON PARK — Community members are welcomed to gather at Shenendehowa’s High School West auditorium Tuesday May 3 at 7 pm to hear from the four candidates running for the three Board of Education seats up for election May 17.
James Trainor, citing family and career responsibilities, announced he would not seek reelection at a meeting Febuary 9 while Todd Gilbert and Gary DiLallo plan to run for their second and sixth terms respectively. Kathleen Khemili of Halfmoon and Deanna Stephenson, a health administrator and Shenendehowa’s Parent Teacher Association Council President, intend to run for seats on the board, as well. Each seat carries a three year term beginning in July.
While he’s originally from Rochester, Gilbert grew up in Fulton County and now lives in Clifton Park. He graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh with a major in Business Management and earned his MBA from the University of Dallas. “My wife wanted to move to a town with a strong school district. She did a lot of research and we chose Clifton Park, due to the high rankings of the Shenendehowa School District,” Gilbert said. He now works for Time Warner Cable Business Class. Gilbert’s two children attend Shenendehowa. He is seeking his second term on Shenendehowa’s Board of Education
Stephenson, who was raised in Ravena and now lives in Halfmoon, is seeking her first term on Shenendehowa’s Board of Education. She attended SUNY Oswego where she earned degrees in biology and forensic science. “I met my amazing husband after college and oddly enough he graduated from Shenendehowa,” she said. “After looking at other suburban towns we agreed that the Clifton Park area was a great place to buy a home and raise our family so back to Clifton Park we came,” she added. Stephenson is Director of Managed Programs for The New York State Health Facilities Association and New York State Center for Assisted Living. Her two children are enrolled at Shenendehowa.
DiLallo grew up in Schenectady and now lives in Clifton Park. He studied social studies education at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana before becoming a full time graduate student at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge where he earned a master’s degree in educational administration with minors in psychology and sociology. DiLallo coached football and track at Stillwater High School and worked at other part time jobs after retiring from teaching in Mechanicville. DiLallo serves on the Capital Region BOCES Board of Education, with the United Methodist Churches in pulpit supply and as a member of the Bishop’s Crisis Response Team for the Upper New York Conference. DiLallo’s three children attended Shenendehowa. He is seeking his sixth term on Shenendehowa’s Board of Education.
Khemili works as a secretary for the Department of Transportation’s Legal Affairs Division and lives in Halfmoon and is originally from Troy. She is seeking her first term on the board. Khemili earned an associate’s degree in business administration from Hudson Valley Community College and a paralegal certificate from George Mason University. Khemili’s four children have attended Shenendehowa.
Q: What are your top priorities for the school in the upcoming year?
Gilbert: School taxes are a large part of our residents annual payments, and we have a duty to use them in the most efficient way that provides our students with the tools they need to succeed whether they leave Shen to attend college, or join the workforce. Everything must be strategically thought out not just a year in advance but several. While I am not in favor of rolling out technology just to say we have it, I see our district continuing to make great strides in providing students with curriculum that can be delivered over a variety of options such as Chromebooks, iPads, smartphones and traditional laptops.
Stephenson: Those that know me, know that I thrive on collaboration and cooperation with others. As a Shenendehowa PTA leader for the past eight years, I and the community of parents, educators and administrators have come together on many different initiatives and created some great programs at every grade level. I would like to continue that collaboration at the board level in the areas of technology and find creative opportunities that increase the participation of females in those science and technology programs. We have become a very diverse community, not just by ethnicity but also by the way that children learn and their different socio-economic backgrounds. I want to continue to propel Shenendehowa’s “whole student” philosophy to assure that every child is given the wide range of opportunities that Shenendehowa is able to offer in order for them to be prepared and well adjusted in the next phase of their educational and professional lives, whatever they choose to do.
DiLallo: We are entering a new period, with changes in Washington, new educational leadership in Albany, a Governor now reflecting on and reconsidering his education initiatives, and a more attentive legislature. Economically there are still challenges but the financial climate has improved. As a result, opportunities now exist to reshape education in our schools so that our student will be prepared better than ever for their lives with fast changes in technology, economics and cultural.
Khemili: My main priority for my first year will be to learn the process and become an active contributor in that process. I am also looking to get feedback from the students, parents, Shen staff and faculty of what they would like to see happen.
Q: If you had an extra hour in the day what would you do?
Gilbert: I would spend it with the family. I love watching and coaching my daughter play basketball, lacrosse, diving and field hockey. Additionally I watch and coach my son in basketball, lacrosse and football. However, I am sure there are plenty of chores and projects around the house both inside and out that would keep me more than busy with that extra hour! It’s all about priorities. At their current ages, kids are my wife’s and my hobby!
Stephenson: If I was granted one [extra hour] a day and my family was all taken care of, I would go over to Clifton Park Center Mall, grab a large buttered popcorn from the movie theater, come back home and watch a couple episodes of the Big Bang Theory, very funny! I am a fitness enthusiast. I find it to be a great stress reliever. We are a very active family so depending on the season we adapt to different outside activities which could include; skiing, running, boating or even rollerblading. My children love to play games and dance in the house and love when we join in! The quiet times are always appreciated too, when we can just relax and all watch a movie together.
DiLallo: I would spend more time reading, perhaps take some non-credit courses at a local college and explore new topics and develop whatever artistic talent I might have. I like to visit new places and meet the people from other cultures. It isn’t much fun to fly long distances in uncomfortable airplane seats but once in a new location the discomfort fades.
Khemili: Read for entertainment. I love to read but it seems like I only get to read for informational purposes lately. I used to love to read mysteries.