My name is Niamh Grano (pronounced “Neeve”) and I am running for the Board of Education this November. I grew up in Sparta, along with my husband Michael, and although I moved away for several years after attending Iona College, Sparta is the only place I consider home. 

When we started a family, we had many discussions about where our children would go to school. Weighing the pros and cons of both private and public schools, the decision was easy… they would attend Sparta Public Schools.  One factor was because the school system is known to be one of the best in Sussex County. Also, we knew if they ever needed any specialized support that Sparta would have the resources needed to provide that to them.

I have seen first-hand what the Sparta School District has accomplished by watching my own children, six-year-old Emma and nine-year-olds Nicholas and Lilly and those of family and friends. I can also see the potential that remains and I want to be part of pushing the district forward to meet that potential. Specifically, I see four main areas of importance: Academics, Security, Community, and Transparency.

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Academics is a major priority and we should continue to ensure that we support and improve the curriculum. We should also strive to ensure that Sparta education stays at the cutting edge of academics by supporting continuing education of our teachers and administrators and provide access to new curricula that will help support our students in this world of ever-changing technology.  Sparta is full of amazing teachers and administrators who come to school every day because they want to be there, influencing our children and making an impact on their lives. We must continue to support them by listening to what they need. Regardless of statewide rankings, every child is entitled to a free and appropriate education. We must go beyond what’s appropriate and ensure instruction promotes self-confidence so that every child can feel like they can be the next great artist, author, mathematician,  scientist or whatever it is they want to be!

It is unfortunate that we live in a time where we have to worry daily about the safety of our children. The security measures the district, along with the Sparta Police Department, have put into place at the schools allows me to rest a little easier when they are at school. However, that doesn’t mean the focus on security should stop. Security is something that needs to be evaluated constantly and modified as appropriate. It also means we need to be more aware and better educate ourselves on mental health issues and ensure that we support curriculum that helps our children through Social Emotional Learning.

Sparta has always been known for its sense of community and there is no place I see this more than within the walls of our schools. Serving my third year as the President for the Alpine Parent Teacher Organization, I have had the opportunity to get to know, and work alongside, members of the PTO at the other schools within the district. It was clear to me that we all have the same goal…to work together for the greater good of our children and ensure they are set up for success.  This sense of community is needed not just inside the schools, but outside as well.

Working in the communications field as a public relations executive for twenty years, I have learned the importance of transparency.  If stakeholders are not informed about what is happening, they are left to make their own conclusions and  to assume things are not being done in their best interest. The same goes for the families in our district. We need to find ways to better inform the parents and community about what is being done within the district and that the children are, and always will be, the main priority.

I am thrilled to be running alongside Kim Bragg and Kurt Morris for the BOE. I hope you will give me the opportunity to show my dedication to the children, teachers and administrators within the Sparta School District and our community.