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New York City
May 2002

Principal For a Day: A Personal Perspective
By Pola Rosen, Ed.D.

“I have to fill my tank with the touches and smells of the kids in my community.” Thus began my day as Principal for a Day at PS 69 in the North Bronx with a special visit and wonderful words from, Superintendent Betty Rosa. The principal was absent so I spent time with the assistant principal Betzaida Franco and Jean-Paul Bianchi, Supervisor of Social Studies as well as Superintendent Rosa. A school board member, Anna Calderon, was also present at the office in an easy atmosphere of information sharing. There are nine members on the community school board ranging from a retired senator to a housewife.

Dr. Rosa proudly spoke of the extraordinary achievements of one of her schools, PS 48, that came off the SURR (Schools Under Registration Review) and won the Pathfinder Award recently. Her successful formula includes leadership, stability with staff and good pedagogy, which is child centered. “Everything is based on the relationship between the subject and the teacher. The teacher helps to build a bridge to the subject.” Rosa has brought a pilot reading program from Australia to her school, including co-teachers from Australia.

At the impromptu request of a group of parents, Dr. Rosa spoke with them in the auditorium about issues of security, dignity, and respect. There was an easy atmosphere of sharing information, the parents clearly felt at ease in the atmosphere of PS 69. “We never attack a person, only issues. That’s what moves a discussion forward.”

On we went to a classroom to meet the student council. Comprised of a group of 4th graders, they planned to interview Dr. Rosa and me. Their questions were amazingly perceptive and ones that high school journalists might have asked. Excerpts from the interview with Dr. Rosa follow:

Student: Are you proud of who you are?

Dr. Rosa: Every morning I wake up and I love what I do. The biggest part of the joy is making a difference.

Student: How many schools do you visit?

Dr. Rosa: Sometimes 1, 2 or 3. We have 28 schools.

Student: The student council is learning the role of leadership. What qualities should they have as leaders?

Dr. Rosa: A leader must believe in a mission, be a good listener, be kind, help others grow, be passionate, and also be a good follower.

The students then asked me questions about Education Update: How did you start the newspaper, who was your mentor besides your parents, what teachers influenced you, what is your daily routine?

Then I visited another 4th grade class and talked about how to write for a newspaper, how they could start their own school newspaper and how they could get their articles published in Education Update. They were very excited and asked if I could come back next week. The staff of Education Update will invite them to our office and go to their school to help launch their first school newspaper. Many students raised their hands and expressed a strong desire to write articles for Education Update. This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship with the children of PS 69 and their teachers.

Then I visited a kindergarten class and watched them in a semicircle, participate in story time. The classroom with its block corner, house corner and paintings and books brought back lovely memories of my kindergarten teacher reading stories which mesmerized us. I promised the little ones that they could draw pictures for Education Update and their names would appear in the newspaper. They excitedly began telling me what they would draw.

It was hard to leave but on we went to a UFT Teacher Center, which actively helps in teacher training throughout the year.

For the first grade only, there is a Reading Recovery Program funded by a state grant. The teacher, Idamis Gutterman seemed like a pro and had been working with the children for years. She showed me some of the excellent materials on hand.

Mr. Bianchi was extremely knowledgeable about the social studies curricula and the mastery levels for each grade. State science and math tests for the 4th grade will be administered in May.

Hallways covered with children’s work, small staircases, the metalwork on the stairwells, the color of the paint on the staircase walls became fused into the memories of my childhood in a New York City public school in the Bronx. The physical plant does not look much different, the teachers here are caring and knowledgeable, the children are enthusiastic and want to learn. PS 69 is a great place to visit! I’d like to go back to school! #


Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel: (212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email: ednews1@aol.com.
All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of the publisher. © 2001.