Meet your Lynbrook Board of Education candidates


Last Monday, all four Lynbrook board of education candidates sat in front of neighbors and officials, pitching why they should fill one of the three available seats on the board.

Those that are running are incumbent Lesli Denimo, incumbent Sean Murray, Shannon Kelly, and Courtney Knacke. The Lynbrook Council of PTA’s hosted the event and the Nassau Region PTA moderated the event. Each candidate spoke on why they should be elected candidate, along with pressing issues in the district that they’d like to address.


Lesli Dennino

Dennino spent 21 years in the Lynbrook school district. She has four kids; Eli, in Waverly Park; Joeli, who is in tenth grade at Lynbrook High School; Alexi, who graduated Lynbrook High School in 2023; and Mackensi, who graduated Lynbrook High School in 2021. Denimo received a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from LIH in 1997, Master of Science in Literacy Studies from Hofstra University in 2002, and Advanced Certificate in School District Administration from LIU in 2004.

Dennino told residents that they should vote for her because she is committed to serving the community. She wants to help the board be more fiscally responsible, transparent, and help enhance the district’s educational infrastructure by providing a safe and conducive learning environment for students.

“We need to know that everyone who comes in and out of the buildings really belongs,” Dennino said after being asked about what security policies she’d like to see addressed.

Dennino said she is very proud with how the district is already handling the safety of students. However, she said the district can be more safe if the schools utilize new technologies in the cameras and door access systems.

Dennino emphasized that technology is not going anywhere and as a Kindergarten teacher, technology is part of her everyday life. She noted that there are books that she wants her students to read that aren’t available to them in the library, so Dennino finds them through online resources. She also noted that new technology was very beneficial to the new digital art room and the drone program.

One of the questions that were asked was how Lynbrook can be more welcoming to minorities. Dennino suggested that there should be more peer mentorships to make the students that move in from other countries feel more comfortable. She also suggested prioritizing student input from the elementary level to the high school.

If re-elected to the board, Dennino would tackle the budgetary issues like lack of local control and she will go directly to Albany to fight for more state aid. She said this is the first year of the fiscal cliff and she will help the school receive more grant money. 

“As we look ahead to the challenges and opportunities that lie before us, I am confident that, together, we can build upon the progress we’ve made and chart a course toward an even brighter future for our students,” Dennino said in her closing statement.


Sean Murray

Murray spent 17 years in the Lynbrook school district and has been on the Lynbrook board of education since 2021. He has two children in Lynbrook High School and one in Lynbrook North Middle School. Murray received a Bachelor in Arts in English and Literature with a minor in Chemistry from Binghamton University in 1998, a Masters in Science in Elementary Education from Hofstra University in 2000, and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Policy and Leadership from Hofstra University in 2006.

Murray told residents that they should vote for him because he spent his entire career dedicated to public education and feels he can share his experiences to help improve the district.

“One of the things that I would like to see and I think would make our schools even safer is a system by which to manage the ins and outs of the students, especially on campus at the high school,” Murray said after being asked about school security.

Murray said that as a building leader and a district leader, his number one responsibility is keeping students safe and secure. He believes that the current lockdown system and the full time security consultants help create a safer environment for the students and faculty.

Murray said that the district is preparing students for their futures with new technologies. Although he supports the initiatives of bringing new programs into the school — like the Seesaw learning management system — he emphasized that students should still be learning how to use pencil, paper, scissors, and crayons.

Murray said that by utilizing the framework that the state laid out on how teachers can make every student in their classroom feel like they belong, minority groups will feel more welcome in the district.

If re-elected to the board, Murray said he will tackle the continual unfunded mandates and decrease in aids in the school budget. He said he will lobby for more control over local decisions, try to get a more consistent funding stream, and build relationships with elected officials to make this happen.

“I spent a career supporting the belief that all children are entitled to the knowledge, skills, habits and attitudes that will allow them to pursue their passions and navigate in the world,” Murray said in his closing statement. “Every child has the right to learn those things from educators with the highest degree.”


Shannon Kelly

Kelly spent 36 years in the Lynbrook school district. She has a daughter who is a senior in Lynbrook High School and she has two older children that graduated from the high school in 2016 and 2018. She received her bachelor's degree from the College of the Holy Cross in 1996, a master's degree in education and adolescent biology from what is now Molloy University in 2009, and a certificate in educational leadership from Long Island University in 2018.

Kelly told residents that they should vote for her because her vast experiences as both a parent and an educator would help inform her decisions as board member. She noted that she will use her analytical skills for the betterment of the schools. If elected onto the board, her “guiding question” would be “what is in the best interest of the students?”

“I think we trust in the relationships we built with local law enforcement and we allow for the free flow of information when there is a dangerous situation in our schools,” Kelly said after being asked about what security policies she’d like to see addressed.

Kelly noted that she is amazed by some of the security measures that are currently put in place such as the locked doors on the classrooms, security guards, and dual door entries.

Kelly believes that technology needs to be used in moderation, needs to be age-appropriate, and it needs to be reliable. Kelly wants to make sure that technology doesn’t make other skills, like holding a pencil and handwriting, become obsolete.

In regards to making minorities feel more comfortable in the district, Kelly said that as a mother of bi-racial kids, she is very cognizant that children may not look like their parents. She noted that diversity comes in many different forms. She suggested that the district can incorporate some holiday traditions like having dinner after sunset during Ramadan for muslim students.

If elected onto the board, Kelly will look for different ways to ensure the continuation and expansion of programs that the board “carefully crafted.” She said that she will take advantage of every grant opportunity that is available to the district. Kelly noted that she secured $3.5 million in grant funds while a grant coordinator at Malverne High School, although not all was earmarked for that school.

“It would be my greatest pleasure to give back in a meaningful way to the community which has given me so much,” Kelly said in her closing statement.


Courtney Knacke

Knacke has been part of the Lynbrook district for 24 years. She has a child in South Middle School and two children in Waverly Park Elementary School. Knacke graduated from Lynbrook High School in 2001, then went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration in Neurobiology and Physiology from the University of Maryland in 2005, then she received a Master’s of Science in Education from Hofstra University in 2006, and In 2013, she earned her certification in Educational Leadership from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

Knacke told residents that they should vote for her because as someone who graduated from Lynbrook High School and has kids in the district, she feels like she has a lot more to give back to the district that has already given her so much.

“When it comes down to keeping the kids safe, it really comes down to knowing students and making them feel like they belong,” Knacke said.

Knacke said she is really proud of the security measures that are put in place like the keypad doors, blue exterior lights to warn people outside about a lockdown, and improving the WiFi coverage for staff phones so faculty can communicate with each other faster during an emergency.

Knacke said she wants to find out what technologies teachers are using regularly and what is working for them. She then hopes to find different ways that the district can save money. She also would like there to be a staff member who has a lot of expertise in educational technology to train their peers on different platforms or maybe host a “lunch and learn” on A.I.

Knacke said to help minority groups feel more comfortable in the district, schools need to handle certain targeted attacks like anti-semitism with the utmost care. Knacke believes that there needs to be an overall improved sense of belonging for all children by making students feel welcome through their social emotional learning.

If elected onto the board, Knacke would tackle the overuse of phones and social media. She noted that kids get too distracted from the constant ping notifications to have discussions in the classrooms.

“I want to be here for the long run,” Knacke said in her closing statement. “My kids are still relatively young and I have so much more to give to this district that gave me so much.”

The public vote will be on Tuesday, May 21 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. To find your polling place, get an absentee ballot, or for any other questions, visit

CORRECTION: Education board candidate Shannon Kelly  earned her bachelor's degree from the College of  the Holy Cross in 1996, her master's degree in  education and adolescent biology from what is now Molloy University in  2009, and her certificate in educational leadership in 2018 from Long Island University. 

She has been an educator with the Malverne school district, but lives in Lynbrook. While at Malverne High School, she did secure $3.5 million in grants, although all those funds were not necessarily for Malverne High School.

A previous version of this story provided incorrect or unclear information when it came to these details.