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  • Writer's pictureAvantika Singh

Nareen Jabbour Is Ready To Take On Edgemont

The Edgemont Board of Education, which serves as a link between the community and the school district, held an election last school year to choose two new members. Nareen Jabbour, one of the winners of the election, recently started her term. She, along with the rest of the Board, will make decisions about general school policies, prepare the annual budget, prepare and present capital-building programs, and exercise final say on all school personnel. Campus was fortunate enough to get a chance to chat with her about her background, experiences, and plans for the future. Here’s our conversation (condensed and edited for flow and clarity):

Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up? What is/was your job?

I worked at the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy at the Department of State, where I served as an Acting Deputy Director for the Research and Science unit. I coordinated and oversaw the centrally funded research portfolio for PEPFAR (the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), including three large multi-national randomized controlled trials in Africa.

I also served as a policy expert and a technical resource contributor to developing, coordinating, and disseminating new or revised international HIV/AIDS policies and best practices. I helped manage and coordinate PEPFAR Scientific Advisory Board.

Previously, I was the Senior Health Scientist at the Center for Global Health at the National Cancer Institute. There, I provided technical assistance on the management and operations of national cancer control planning for several Caribbean and Middle Eastern countries and helped these countries adopt new techniques and policies to improve their cancer control and prevention processes.

As an expert in infectious diseases, I also helped to design preventive vaccines against anthrax toxin and researched hospital-acquired infections, and HIV/AIDS. I have also worked in diverse public health areas, ranging from tobacco control to adolescent sexual reproductive health to unintended teen pregnancy at the New York City Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. I received my doctoral degree in microbiology and immunology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and a Master's in Public Health.

Tell us about your experience in Edgemont. How long have you lived here? Do you have children in the school district? What experience do you have with volunteering in the PTSA and other committees? What do you love about Edgemont and what do you think needs improvement?

My family and I have been living in Edgemont since 2012. I have three children ages 16, 11, and 4, two of whom attend Edgemont schools. My youngest is in a pre-K program and will attend Seely Place next fall. I have been an active member of Edgemont, serving as a volunteer for various school events and committees, including on the Executive Board of the PTSA, most recently as a co-president, and before that, as the PTSA STEM VP. I also have volunteered as a co-chair for Seely's STEM and Science Fair committees. I serve on Seely's yearbook committee and help manage and oversee the Math Olympiad elementary school program. I have a sincere interest in public education in my community, sound judgment, an even temper, a willingness to collaborate, and want the best for all students.

Edgemont is a small school community, and as an 11-year resident, I know the community's success is a result of the commitment of its residents. I am a large stakeholder in Edgemont, given that I will have all three of my children attending schools in the district next school year. The district is committed to preparing our children for the next level of challenges, inside and outside the classroom and life beyond graduation. Education has evolved to include more than mastering English, Math, and Science. The curriculum must be flexible for all students, opening more course options earlier, particularly at the Jr./Sr. High School, and support teachers in these endeavors. With the new Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum coming on board in the next several weeks, we hope to see improvement in these areas.

Why did you run for the Board of Education? What do you consider “your thing” and what do you think you bring to the Board?

I'm delighted to be a member of the Edgemont Board of Education. I have an immense passion for community affairs, expressed in my volunteer engagement over the years. In addition to my passion, my professional and volunteer experience has helped me develop the skills I'll apply to impact as a Board Member positively. Why am I doing this work – it's 3-fold:

  1. I believe in our schools and 2,000-strong district students, whom we all recognize as the heart and soul of this community. I am deeply committed to our school system and the children of our community.

  2. I understand where our challenges are, how we can improve, and where the gaps exist.

  3. I'm motivated by our students to make education better for all our children.

With my youngest in the 4s program at Greenville Church Nursery School, we will be in this district for the next 14 years, and I am honored and humbled to serve the Edgemont School District on this board and to play a transformative role in the lives of all of our children.

I am a great listener and highly dedicated to students, and importantly, I am a lifelong learner who models personal investment in education with my avid curiosity. I grew up valuing a hard work ethic, education, and grit/perseverance. I also grew up appreciating the community. When my husband and I decided to move to Edgemont, all these factors guided us as we realized that it was a warm, welcoming, and culturally diverse community.

Edgemont school system provides a nurturing environment for all students. I cannot think of anything better than being engaged with working on the BOE to help shape and sustain quality education for Edgemont students. Furthermore, I can build bridges and find solutions and have a resolute desire to improve our school system for all students. I listen, empathize, and promote consensus in my duties as a BOE member. Our school is changing in a way that brings equity and access into focus. It's a vision I support, as we must provide students with an excellent education. To understand and appreciate ourselves and others and bridge the gap between what students are learning in the classroom and the real world and life. When I think about the district's goals, I recognize them as big-picture ideas with great complexity, and achieving these goals requires a strong collaborative team. When I think of that team environment, it reminds me of scientific research and the collaborative spaces I worked. Working in these spaces has given me an appreciation for using data-driven and evidence-based approaches to understand complex topics. My experiences can attest to the board and help bring a vision to our schools that provide a path for all students to succeed.

What do you hope to achieve as a member of the Board of Education? What ideas do you have? What initiatives are you currently working on or hope to work on?

As a Board Trustee, my role is three-fold

  1. Oversee the budget, making sure to represent the community properly and ensuring students are getting what they need

  2. Hire/fire and evaluate the superintendent

  3. Set policy

I want our district to offer robust curricula that empower students through a well-rounded education where students feel safe, heard, welcomed, appreciated, and inspired. This requires a lot of feedback and collaboration with the district. It also involves consensus-building but also challenges and pushes on the status quo, making sure we're moving the district forward by working collaboratively with the administrators so every school in our district is built up to offer the best possible educational opportunities for our students. I will work to ensure that our students' voices are heard and that their needs are reflected in every decision and policy I support. Overall, I want to ensure that we continue to offer all children a path to success in whatever they choose – academics, athletics, the arts, or in creating a whole new field of study.


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