Opinion: Potsdam Central School board candidate cites life experience
Friday, May 10, 2019 - 8:08 am

A diverse pool of talent and different perspectives are essential to the success of any organization including school boards. Ideas big and small can make a huge difference in the lives of children, their school progress, and their future. I hope to earn your vote on May 21st so that I may support our children to grow and lead successful and fulfilled lives.

My name is Tarik Ait Maatallah and I have resided in the village of Potsdam for 15 years with my wife Badra Rouhi. Our children grew up in the Potsdam School District including our Son, Taha, an 11-year-old sixth grader, and our daughter, Amina, a 9-year-old fourth grader. Our youngest daughter, Aya, is sharpening her skills at the SUNY daycare and will soon be a baby Sandstoner.

I grew up in a household of teachers. My late mom taught middle school physical education and later became a student counselor. She ended her career as Director of Early Education in an elementary school overseeing 3 levels pre-1st grade to include 9 classrooms. My dad started his career in education as a student counselor, then went on to teach French, History, and Geography, and Social Studies both in high school and middle school. He also was a general supervisor of student counseling and a principal of the elementary school. He ended his career teaching in the school of the blind working with legally blind students. They had an outstanding experience in public education in both the Moroccan and French systems. I was involved in their work as an aid during my high school and college years. I coached elementary school children in soccer and basketball and have a few national championships to brag about. I have a long experience working with children to cultivate their talent and inspire them to aim high. I learned a lot from my parents on why education is important and how it can open doors to a better future. I instill this with my own children daily and if you vote for me on May 21st, I am eager to be a part of education decision making that enhances our current education system and supports opportunities for our children to prepare them for the future.

In my professional life, I have worked in leadership positions in retail, electronic payment, and tech support, real estate, hospitality, and for the past eight years in health care. I currently run a consulting business that assists private healthcare providers to optimize their processes, minimize their revenue losses, and I also run the Revenue Cycle Operations for the Community Health Center that serves patients in St. Lawrence, Franklin, and Jefferson counties. Before that, I worked as Senior Decision Support in CPH for six years. I sat on the committee of the Ministerial Association of Potsdam (currently Potsdam Interfaith Community) for several years and was president for two consecutive terms. Currently, I am the president of the Potsdam Mosque. This rich experience affords me a large toolbox of solutions when it comes to process enhancement and problem-solving. Because cultures in those industries are very different, I have acquired a different flavor to the diversity that goes beyond the surface of color, gender, and race to include diverse talents, diverse perspectives, and diverse ideas. Our district is diverse and it is important to listen and hear all points of view.

I gained my MBA Magna Cum Laude in 2007, a bachelor’s degree in IT in 2002, and in English in 1996. I took part in Semester at Sea®, a college-level program that circumnavigates the globe to tie the courses to hands-on homework and assignments in 10 different countries. I learned how different countries look at the same issue quite differently as courses lasted the entire semester and theories were tested in Japan, China, Vietnam, India, Turkey, Greece, Morocco, and many more.

It is this variety of experiences that allows me to appreciate listening to others because I know full well that there is more to every issue than what shows on the surface. It also helps me see any task from multiple angles to make sure it is well thought out. Debating ideas with an open mind is the sure and wise way to advance any cause. I would like to bring all this with me to enrich our school board to build on its successes and help our district keep growing. We owe it to our children to identify creative ways of learning to be ready for their future. They deserve every chance to excel in academics, extra-curricular, citizenship, and realizing their dreams.

I hope to earn your vote on May 21st. Please feel free to reach out if you have any question or would like to learn more about my vision for supporting our children in the Potsdam Central School District.

Tarik Ait Maatallah