For a Day: A Personal Perspective
Pola Rosen, Ed.D.
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
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:
Are you proud of who you are?
Rosa: Every morning I wake up and I love what I do. The biggest
part of the joy is making a difference.
How many schools do you visit?
Rosa: Sometimes 1, 2 or 3. We have 28 schools.
The student council is learning the role of leadership. What qualities
should they have as leaders?
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! #
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