My name is Kristen Hanson (Lincks) and I am a member of North Shore’s Class of 1998. I write to you with a voice that has tremendous affection and a deep appreciation for the area which I was raised and educated in, the area I chose to reside in during my 20s and was also fortunate enough to be a teacher in the special education department at North Shore High School for eight years. Five generations ago, my maternal side of the family planted their roots in the promenade section of Glen Head when my great-great- grandparents bought a home in my old neighborhood. Today, their granddaughter, Mary (my grandmother) still resides on Maiden Lane and my parents live close by. Although my husband, sons and I happily now live in Centerport, my roots are something I keep very close to me. Without question the reasons for this are naturally due to my family, my lifelong friendships that began in nursery school back in ’83 and later flourished throughout my 13 years of formal education at North Shore and last but not least, my education itself.
To many others and I, the North Shore School District always resembled a private school style of education due to its small class sizes, incredible amount of extracurricular opportunities and the unwavering support, dedication and professionalism of many administrators and faculty members alike. One of the many faculty members that I speak proudly of is Richard Galati, a former member of the science department for 30 years at North Shore High School. Rich is now running for one of two open trustee positions on the North Shore Board of Education and what a tremendous asset he would be should he gain his desired role.
I have the great pleasure of knowing Rich through a unique lens—firstly as my former and widely respected teacher back in 1996, secondly as my former trusted colleague and thirdly, as a treasured friend. If you don’t already know Rich, please allow me the opportunity to introduce him to you. Rich was born into a family of educators. His parents, siblings, aunts and uncles have experiences which range from elementary classroom teachers, special education teachers, to those who have served as administrators.
Rich graduated with honors distinction from the West Islip School District in 1975 where he was a varsity athlete and an All-County percussionist. Following his success at West Islip, Rich attended Colgate University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry in three years. Over the course of the next few years, Rich began working as a graduate research assistant with focuses on synthetic organic chemistry, medicinal chemistry (researching the development of anti-cancer agents) and he became a teaching assistant, while named the head of the undergraduate Organic Chemistry Laboratory at the University of Miami.
Unfortunately, Rich was faced with the onset of diabetic retinopathy in 1981, which resulted in significant visual loss adding great challenges to his work and schooling as a PhD student. Rich worked as an organic chemist at the University of Miami’s Department of Medicine until his medical condition caused him to change his career path. At this point in time, Rich decided that he wanted to earn his M.S. at the University and become a science educator.
In 1984, the couple moved back to New York when his wife, Dr. Darlene Galati, completed her MD program, and she began an internship at Stony Brook followed by her residency in ophthalmology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center. Rich began teaching Advanced Placement (AP) chemistry and honors physics at St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School in West Islip. He was later accepted into a PhD program at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College, but much to the benefit of the North Shore community, Rich was hired in September of 1985 at the high school with the expectation of developing their honors chemistry program. For the next three decades, Rich taught many levels of both chemistry and physics and to date is the only member of the science faculty who has taught AP levels of biology, chemistry and physics. In 1990, Darlene and Rich decided to raise their family in Glen Head. By 1993, Rich and Darlene were the proud parents of four children: Richard Jr., Christina, Matthew and Jonathan, all of whom graduated from North Shore with exceptional and highly distinguished academic, musical and/or athletic careers.
To say that Rich and Darlene have raised four incredibly bright, kind and respectful children is an understatement. This is a family who places great emphasis on values, respect and education to say the very least. The Galati children were not just seen at academic competitions, sporting events, play rehearsals and musical events, etc. While participating in all of the above, their children were also visible at our local hospitals, law firms, veterinary hospitals, etc., obtaining first hand access to their potential field of interests via volunteerism and internships at a young age. Accomplished does not begin to describe these four children, now adults, that I speak of. Rich and Darlene played a large role in their children’s abilities to not only set and reach goals, but to consistently achieve far and beyond each one set. Rich carried the values that he and Darlene established in their home directly into the classroom and did so with sheer humility as he touched hundreds of high schoolers.
Throughout Rich’s 30 notable years teaching at North Shore High School, his contributions are nearly innumerable. For 27 of these years, Rich was the Director of Student Extracurricular Activities, which provided him with plethora of budget related experience. His highlights include the establishment of international and domestic student exchange programs which were solely funded via student driven fundraising efforts, the initiation of student participation in the National Chemistry Olympiad and having one student receiving national top ten accolades, creating the AP Physics program (which he remained the sole instructor of prior to retirement), beginning the first Science Research Program in the district with friend and colleague Janice Chen in 1997 (they had their first Intel Semi-Finalist in 1999, followed by five others), established the NSHS Chapter of the Science National Honor Society in 2005 (which he advised through 2016) and serving as the faculty advisor to the Student Government Organization for many years. Rich was also a faculty representative at the first Shared Decision Making Committee, was selected to be the question editor for Nassau BOCES restructuring of the Physical Setting, Chemistry Regents Examination, was trained as an IB (International Baccalaureate) Physics Teacher and wrote the course description for the district’s IB Physics program.
In addition to all of this, Rich has mentored teachers, was named the Chief Negotiator for the NSSFE (North Shore Schools Federation of Employees) in Collective Bargaining for the 2008-2012 contract settlement, was selected as the NSHS Teacher of the Year by the PTSA in June of 2011, was awarded a College Board Grant in July of 2014 to study the new AP Physics 1 and 2 programs, received the 2016 North Shore Yearbook dedication upon his retirement (awarded by the Senior Class student body) and is a member of several highly regarded educational organizations in addition to Kiwanis, The Order Sons of Italy in America and the North Shore Coalition Against Substance Abuse.
It is without question in my mind that should he be elected to the NS Board of Ed., Rich’s expertise in education and impeccable work ethic would be a terrific asset to the community as it continues to grow and evolve. Rich is a man of immense character and is a consummate professional who knows the infrastructure of the district. He does not subscribe to the modern idea of awarding individuals with participation trophies (as the real world certainly does not) and easily establishes respectful and comfortable working relationships through his kind demeanor. With full faith and due to his intricate and unique knowledge of the school system, I believe that Rich would build upon the many strengths of the North Shore Schools while helping to rebuild and refine its weaknesses. Your support for Richard Galati would be a choice of the perfect combination of old-fashioned values blended with a modern understanding of education’s needs and changing demands.
You might be wondering why I am writing this letter, being that I no longer reside within the North Shore Schools, but in addition to the previously explained deep connection I personally feel to “home,” the answer is quite simple. I firmly believe that Rich Galati’s experience and possible presence on the NS Board of Education could only benefit the futures of the children in your community and primarily as a mother and secondly as a teacher, I believe that all children deserve the very best. Vote Richard Galati and strengthen the North Shore Schools.