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May 4, 2012 3:27 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Longtime Quogue School Board Member Won't Seek Reelection; Newcomer Tosses Hat In Ring

May 8, 2012 6:15 PM

To say that there will be a changing of the guard on the Quogue Board of Education this summer would be an understatement.

Walter Stockton, who has served on the five-member board for the past 18 years, including the past five as president, has decided not to seek a seventh term. In turn, Dr. Anael Alston, the principal of the Robert M. Finley Middle School in Glen Cove, and an eight-year resident of Quogue, is seeking Mr. Stockton’s seat on Tuesday, May 15. Dr. Alston is not being challenged for the three-year term.

The chief executive officer of Independent Group Home Living in Manorville, a not-for-profit agency that assists the developmentally disabled, Mr. Stockton said the time has come for him “to turn the reins over to someone else.”

“We were always able to do what a board was supposed to do: work on policy and procedures,” said Mr. Stockton, 64, whose son, Connor, graduated from Westhampton Beach High School in 2009. “It is a well-oiled machine.

“We have such a good thing and I would like to see it continue,” he added. “I’ve just been happy to be a part of it.”

Filling his seat as of July 1—barring a successful write-in campaign—will be Dr. Alston, who is making his first run for the Board of Education. Dr. Alston, 41, has been employed at his current job for the past seven years. Last May, he was named the 2011-12 New York State Middle School Principal of the Year after being nominated by teachers and administrators in his district.

Additionally, his middle school won the MetLife Foundation’s National Association of Secondary School Principals Breakthrough School Award last year. Dr. Alston said his school was one of just 10 across the nation selected for the honor, which recognizes dramatic turnarounds in student achievements and testing.

“As an accomplished educator and a resident with a daughter in the [Quogue] school, obviously, I’m very happy with the quality of the public schools, and quality public schools don’t happen by default,” Dr. Alston said. “It happens with proactive people, policy-making and decision-making.”

Dr. Alston, who is married, noted that his 8-year-old daughter, Rebecca, is a second-grader at Quogue School.

If elected next week, Dr. Alston said his primary goal will be to make sure that students at Quogue School continue to get the best education possible.

“One of my goals is to make sure that the quality of education in Quogue School is not diminished by state mandates and common core standards, which I believe are good and will help some districts,” he said. “But some districts are already high-performance and high-achieving, and I think the teachers and superintendent/principal need the support so they don’t get lost in this wave of education reform that really isn’t one size fits all.”

Dr. Alston earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology with an English minor from Hofstra University, and his master’s degree in education administration from the College of New Rochelle. He holds a second master’s degree in gifted education from Teachers College at Columbia University in Manhattan, and later earned his doctorate in curriculum and teaching from there.

As for Mr. Stockton, he said he has enjoyed his nearly two decades on the board and thinks that Dr. Alston will be a good addition. He also credited Quogue School Superintendent Richard Benson for doing an excellent job.

“I just felt that 18 years was enough,” Mr. Stockton said, explaining why he decided to not seek another term. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time on the board. It has been a great experience. I know I’ll miss it, but I think it is time for someone else to have a chance.”

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