From the Principal’s
Corinne Rello-Anselmi, PS 108, Bronx
When I became the Principal of PS 108 Philip J. Abinanti School
eight years ago, we were making only moderate gains in literacy
and were struggling to meet the needs of all of our students. We
knew we could be better, but we were not looking for a short-term
literacy program solution. We knew that implementing a comprehensive
design was the only way to make real progress.
A strong believer in
assessment-driven instruction, we began our work with Mondo’s
BEL/Bookshop Program six years ago. Professional development in assessment and comprehensive literacy
instruction through this design model has helped focus our
work as well as monitor our effectiveness. We implemented Mondo’s
BEL l, a literacy program that went beyond the classroom by
offering a long-term reform design with structures and strategies
to strengthen all the elements critical to a school’s
success from senior leadership to community collaboration. The results were impressive by many standards.
In 1999, 40.3 percent of our students were at or above grade
literacy level. That number increased to 62.9 percent in 2004 —a
dramatic increase of 22 percentage points.
The first step in implementation was leadership. I am fortunate
to be working alongside talented administrators and teachers
who are dedicated to providing our students with the type of
education they deserve. Our instructional leaders believe that
all students can make progress given sufficient support and
that quality teaching makes the difference. We instituted a
full-time literacy coach and provided all of our literacy teachers
with the program materials.
The professional development aspect of the literacy program,
held regularly both on-site and off, helped us bring the design
elements together. Our staff leadership met on a weekly basis
to openly discuss issues of concern. These weekly opportunities
empowered the team at the highest levels. While the focus was
on the literacy program, these open dialogues, in conjunction
with the training sessions, helped us improve our approach
in other subject areas and utilize our resources more efficiently.
Over the years, PS 108 has had low teacher turnover rates and
I believe a large part of this was due to the high level of
support and empowerment our staff receives.
We made a relentless effort to tailor teaching to the needs
of all students. We first assessed where our students were
by pre-testing to establish starting points for instruction.
Instructional strategies were linked to assessment data and
the capabilities of the student. Teachers were trained to use
this baseline data to focus instruction according to student
needs. There was ongoing monitoring to track student progress
as well as post-testing to measure our progress. Research-based,
individualized instruction was key to student success because
teachers were able to identify student need and adjust their
Home, school and community partnerships are also lynchpins
to our success. There is no one way to teach literacy and as
our understandings deepen we are able to enrich our instruction
through multiple resources. As a school, we have reached out to parents,
community leaders and other literacy programs in order to strengthen
our instruction in reading and writing. The recent restructuring
of the NYC School system, under the leadership of Chancellor
Klein and Deputy Chancellor Farina, provided our school support
for our literacy design and has allowed us to grow and deepen
our commitment to our approach as it is in alignment with their
bold vision for an improved NYC School system.
Corinne Rello-Anselmi has been at PS 108 for over 25 years,
first joining the instructional staff in 1979 as a special
education teacher. She became the assistant principal in
1989, overseeing all instruction and in 1996, she was appointed
as the principal. PS 108 is located in Region Two in the
Morris Park section of the Bronx.#