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Longtime educator Kelly Freeborn announces run for Riverhead school board seat

Kelly Freeborn of Baiting Hallow — currently an assistant principal and director of student services at East Quogue Elementary School — is running unopposed to serve on the seven-member Riverhead Board of Education

She has over 25 years of experience in education, but this will be her first run for election to the school board. 

As the parent of a Riley Avenue Elementary School kindergartner and avid attendee of school board meetings, Ms. Freeborn said she believes she can add a unique perspective. 

“I’ve always been in education, I’ve always worked with children,” Ms. Freeborn said. “I want my child to have the experience that I had growing up in Riverhead and I’m really looking forward to adding what I can.”

A Riverhead High School graduate, Ms. Freeborn holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Rider University, as well as a master’s degree in educational administration from Montclair State University. 

During high school and college, she worked as a summer camp counselor for the Riverhead recreational department and gained experience running various programs. 

After college, she began her career as an educator teaching kindergarten in Newark, N.J., and then spent nearly 14 years as a first-grade teacher at Ironia Elementary School in Randolph, N.J. 

Following that opportunity, she decided to segue into administration and took a job as a principal at Irving Primary School in Highland Park, N.J. 

“It was a wonderful four years. They were lovely and I had such great experiences,” Ms. Freeborn said. “I got pregnant — my husband and I are both from Riverhead — and we said the best place to be would be home with our families with our baby, so we came back to Long Island.” 

She landed a job at East Quogue Union Free School District, where she has worked for the last six years. 

As a Board of Education member, Ms. Freeborn said she wants to prioritize working collaboratively with the school community, maintaining transparency and setting up the district for success in the future. 

Among the more pressing issues she would like to focus on are state funding for schools, the rising costs of health care and pensions and, most important, the process of choosing a new superintendent next year. 

As someone who experienced the significant changes school districts confronted during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Freeborn said evaluating the needs of students and the community over the next few years, and proper planning, are crucial.

“I think we need to focus a little bit more on the future,” Ms. Freeborn said. “Education is a changing landscape. We are dealing with things we never have in our lives — we need a stable leadership and a plan going forward, a long-term vision of what we want for the district.” 

Ms. Freeborn described her educational career as running the “gamut.” From working with preschoolers all the way to high school and serving as a coach, teacher and administrator, she said she believes she can bring a “wealth of experience” to Riverhead’s school board. 

With a child who will attend school in the district for the next 13 years, Ms. Freeborn added, she is invested in seeing the district thrive. 

“I want good things to happen. I think Riverhead has a lot to offer and sometimes I think, within the media and different areas of social media, it gets murky,” Ms. Freeborn said. “I know what Riverhead is and I know what it offers students, and I would love to be a part of helping strengthen the relationships with the community.” 

Voting for Riverhead’s annual school budget and Board of Education is scheduled for Tuesday, May 21.