Brooklyn HS of the Arts Teacher Wins NYS Teacher of the Year
D15 and Brooklyn High School of the Arts are very proud of Mr. Andrew Savage. Mr. Savage, Special Education US History teacher, is the 2021 NEW YORK STATE HISTORY TEACHER OF THE YEAR!
Next up, Mr. Savage will be in the running for National Teacher of the Year!
We at PS 1 are so very proud to end this year with our resilient school community. After facing the challenges of integrating technology into our classrooms and teaching practices, we were thrilled to the end of the year by receiving a $175,000 Technology grant from the Office of Borough President Office - Eric Adams office. In addition, the New York Restoration Project will be restoring our gardens and adding a brand new community space, with new trees, plants, and picnic tables by June 2022. We have had a successful Lighthouse and Inclusion, Equity , and Diversity Team. They have led the effort to have our school community rename our school to reflect our values, diversity , and mission. We look forward to many new beginnings in the 2021-2022 school year.
In an effort to end this pandemic year on a good note, the school decided to close the streets around it and have a block party to celebrate our year’s successes. We had clowns, bouncy houses, games, food trucks and musical performances by parents. It was a great way to end a very challenging school year for our children at PS 10 and K280.
Learn more about PS 10 and K280: https://www.ps10.org/
PS 15 is focused on our Diversity and Equity work. This year we launched an Anti-Racist Teaching and Learning Subcommittee of our Equity Team, led by PS 15 teacher leaders. Our focus was on refining and improving our data systems to ensure equity in progress towards proficiency with an emphasis on special design and small group instruction. The pandemic did not stop us from finding ways to celebrate equity and joy! We launched our 1st annual Juneteenth Jamboree in June 2020, which was sadly only virtual. This June however, we were able to hold our 2nd annual Juneteenth Jamboree, & the entire school joined in person on the playground, including remote families who were also offered a virtual option if they were not ready to join the outdoor crowd! We held Super Saturdays for drop off & drop in enrichment and connectedness in May & June, we held "Good Night PS 15" every night in the month of March & on Thursdays April-June where children and families joined zoom to hear a mystery staff and student reader each night, and we held our 1st ever grown-ups only series from January-May focused on mindfulness, healing and connection to support our families through pandemic parenting. Together, we not only made it through a very difficult year & a half of teaching and learning, but we have come out stronger centered in our core values & the transformative work we know is at the heart of our students' and families' success!
In the face of adversity, we continue to keep our readers at the forefront of our decision making. At PS 24 we believe that literacy is a matter of equity. We center our instructional lens on literacy, ensuring that our staff grew their practices through professional development focused on formative assessment and actionable data. We reflected and asked ourselves, "What will we do differently to ensure the growth of ALL readers?" To that end, we adopted a universal screener across all grades, which provided supports to both the staff and the students. The result? Teachers felt true ownership of teaching and learning, students received specific instruction based on data, and families learned more about their children and how to support them.
To celebrate the end of the school year, PS 29 hosted Prek and K Stepping Up outdoor Ceremonies (7 of them!) and 5th grade outdoor graduation ceremonies (7 of them!). This picture is of me giving a speech at one of the fifth grade ceremonies. We also had a field day for our fifth graders with relay races and a dance party. I’m proud of our school community for making sure that even in COVID times we honored our students’ milestones - these events are testament to the strength of our community.
PS 32 worked hard to ensure that all members of the community felt appreciated, loved, and valued. To ensure that we were still one school, the Diversity and Equity committee created monthly calendars to remind all of us that we are special and unique. These calendars included: significant facts and details, learning activities and videos as well as personalized shout-outs for staff and parents. These calendars were also accompanied by resource guides which are now posted on our website. We wanted to continue our motto of: Celebration through Education! We continued to have virtual showcases of our children's work by our virtual art show, holiday show, science fair, dance showcase and talent show. Our children enjoyed showing what they were learning and how creative they are. The pandemic helped the PS 32 school community grow closer and reminded us to hold on to the sweet spots of life!
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, our PS 38 school community worked tirelessly, all year, to ensure that staff, teachers, families, and students felt safe and connected. We're especially proud of our equity team. Throughout the year, they hosted "safe space conversations" with our partners, Breaking the Cycle, for thoughtful discussions with the community. They organized several virtual celebrations for students and families, including BLM week, Black History month, Lunar New Year and an in-person Juneteenth celebration, for the entire school. The team, along with volunteers, worked with Seeds in the Middle, to distribute fresh produce to the local community. Managing the challenges, together, has strengthened us, as a community and we're excited to continue to expand the wonderful work initiated by our equity team, this year.
I am most proud of my amazing PS 39 team that is my AP, parent coordinator and school business manager. My team's willingness to wear many hats and to always ask how do we make school the best experience possible for our students and families in a pandemic led to creative solutions and a sense of stability. We maintained continuity of instruction whether we were fully remote for quarantine, hybrid, and, most recently, fully in person. A school leader can accomplish great things in any environment and successfully take on any challenge with a committed, kid-centric, solutions-oriented team.
This year M.S. 51 was proud to have over 600 in-person students every week in the building while preserving our rich artistic and academic programs for all students. We brought our community together every month with our 51 Presents Lecture Series featuring "master classes" from leading artists and academics. Students from our studios treated our neighborhood with two featured Jamborees in June at the Old Stone House. Our eighth-grade students were accepted to all specialized high schools in New York City and other top-choice schools. We look forward to next year as we become fully immersed in the District 15 Diversity Plan.
PS 94 is more than a typical neighborhood school, it is a safe haven for our students and community. Our role has always been to educate the children of Sunset Park, but we cannot do that with fidelity unless we address equity and social emotional learning in addition to academic rigor. Furthermore, the societal upheaval of the past 18 months has created an even greater sense of urgency in assessing how we address equity in our teaching practice and curricula. Despite the challenges of hybrid and remote learning, we have averaged 97% attendance throughout the last 18 months. This level of academic engagement is only possible because our staff has adapted our curriculum to these new models of learning and continued to prioritize social emotional learning both in person and remotely. We have undertaken a massive revision of the texts and read alouds we use so that they better reflect the cultures and issues our students face. We have addressed the immediate needs of our community through our grocery GoFundMe and ensuring our students had backpacks full of supplies sent home to support their learning. We facilitate weekly parent workshops with an SEL or equity focus. Finally, we have created the Parent Equity Team to ensure parent voice and participation in our learning community. At PS 94 we are educating a generation of well-rounded advocates for change.
Eve came to PS107 in 2011 after being a teacher and administrator at PS321 for 16 years. While the school had a very strong and supportive parent community, some of Eve's first and on-going challenges were to build the internal structures to create more balance and trust between families and staff, and to raise the bar academically. With the help of a professional coach from G&R Inclusive, Eve’s team built strong ICT classrooms and developed robust RTI structures to better support all students. Eve departmentalized her fifth grade early in her tenure to give her students a unique and potent elementary experience. Finally, one of Eve’s proudest accomplishments for her students was the collaboration between parents, teachers, and fifth grade students on the “One Special” book series in which students researched, wrote, illustrated, and published a book on a different endangered species each year, with the funds from book sales going toward animal conservancy organizations. In all, six books were published between 2014-2019 and all are available on Amazon. In 2015 Dr. Jane Goodall wrote the forward to “One Special Elephant: The Story of Penelope Petunia.” Eve feels honored to have been part of the PS107 community and the D15 family.
During this year of uncertainty and fear, the PS 118 community came together in unity. This unique school year we wanted to highlight our diversity and focus on equity and social justice, which was done both remotely and in person. For example, in February we created a Mosaic of Prominent Black Figures in our school and online. Students were asked to create a drawing of a prominent black figure and include a character trait that they could relate to. In May, we created a Kindness Wall on the perimeter of our building. Students were given tags and were asked to draw/write about an inspirational AAPI figure. In June we created a "Love is Love" wall. Our community created a rainbow heart with pictures/words that illustrate acceptance. Finally, on the last day of school our parent body showed up at remote/in person dismissal banging pots/pans/drums to honor and celebrate the success of our diverse community!
PS 124 is a thriving and loving small-school community, one that I am honored to have led for the past 3 years. As COVID trampled through our city and our school, it was clear that PS 124 families, and those throughout the D15 community, needed direct, tangible support to stay afloat. PS 124 launched our monthly community grocery distribution on school grounds in June of 2020. Running in partnership with local nonprofit Amanda Donates and staffed by PS 124 volunteers and community members from Park Slope Community Church, the PS 124 Community Food Pantry has filled grocery carts for 100-200 families every month since. Those Saturdays are a special time to bond with our families and with one another, and have become the event I look most forward to each month. We forged a 2nd partnership this spring with CARE and the Campaign Against Hunger to provide additional groceries and fresh produce to families in weekday distributions held between our monthly pantries. At 124 we are proud of our strong academic programs, our dual-language program, our partnered enrichments including martial arts, dance, language enrichment, songwriting, storytelling, music instruction and movement classes. We are proud of our community partnerships, which have also allowed us this year to provide student-selected winter gifts to every child, and school supplies to all who need them. We are proud of our celebrations: online ZOOM dance parties, in-school pajama and cocoa day, VIP reader events, BMX bike show in our schoolyard, family music trivia nights, in-person graduation and stepping up ceremonies and so many more activities that reinforce our strong bonds as a PS 124 community. I am most proud of the family that we have built together.
At M.S. 88, our core belief is that students learn best in an intimate setting with personalized learning attuned to their needs and strengths. Our passion for educating all students transformed M.S. 88 from one of the most challenged New York City Public Schools into one of the most prominent middle schools in the United States. Although the pandemic was challenging for us all, the resilience and courage of our amazing educators, 1400 students and their families during this period was inspiring. Our students channeled their creativity in our virtual art show, Shine the Light, in May where they presented artwork and performed original pieces of music and writing. It was an honor to hear from our students at our 7th Grade Poetry Slam back in May. Listening to students voice their thoughts and feelings in beautiful poems cemented for me that we have a magical team of teachers who continue to motivate our school community to their fullest potential. The pandemic also amplified the need of teaching equity and diversity and we couldn’t be prouder of MS 88’s amazing Equity Team who piloted a year-long virtual learning series that covered Lunar New Year, Juneteenth, Pride Month, and more. While there will be challenges ahead in the 2021-2022 school year, there’s no doubt that 88’s magnificent staff will face any new uncertainties with the strength they gained over the last year and a half.
In the midst of a pandemic, we at PS 131 focused on our school goals, and stayed the course. In an effort to support and streamline standards-based instruction we implemented the MAP Growth assessment and based our Advance observations on small group work that targeted specific data. We continued to support our ENL population by focusing on new learning progressions and research based instructional approaches. Due to these efforts and the daily support of technology, our ENL students, along with our students with disabilities, showed an increase in achievement over the course of the year. In addition, we were able to maintain a supportive environment through social-emotional programming three times a day via the program "Empowering Education". Our equity team grew and thrived as we assessed our curriculum using the NYU Score Card. We worked hard to ensure enrichment, both in-person and virtually, through Gardening Club, Chorus, Ballroom Dance, and Brooklyn Conservatory Band. Furthermore, we honored student voice through a blended student council and debate club. Finally, through STAT (Students Taking Action Today), our school now has a tiny purple pantry which brought food and security to our community.
Anna came to BNS as a substitute teacher in 1987, moving into a permanent teaching position in 1988. She shifted into leadership in 1997 when asked by her colleagues to take on the role. She’s done so with grace, vision, and deep respect for the passions of others. When Anna started at BNS, we were a ‘program’ of 150 children housed in the unused annex of another school, with one bathroom and a pull chain toilet. Anna was a member of the BNS community across several decades, three buildings & neighborhoods, our growth to serving 700+ students, the transformation of a parking lot into our school yard, playground and farm, and many exciting new initiatives that will remain part of BNS: biking, swimming, camping, the list goes on and on. She is excited to continue her work with children in her retirement, as a grandmother!
At P.S.154, The Windsor Terrace School, we pride ourselves on the connections that we make with students and families. This year, more than ever, we ensured that those connections remained strong by prioritizing small groups and 1:1 instruction both in school and remotely. Our staff incorporated social-emotional support throughout the day through class meetings, scheduled check-ins and a comprehensive social-emotional curriculum that integrated the Social, Emotional and Ethical learning program, Responsive Classroom and Ruler. We explored topics of diversity and inclusivity through monthly grade-level discussions around current topics and book-talks. We also provided weekly assemblies, both in school and remotely, for students to present whatever they wanted to share, from talents to academic work. This year, we implemented a service learning project focused on water conservation. Students engaged in conversations and activities that engaged them in thinking and taking action. Our students utilized Prospect Park for science explorations through a partnership with Brooklyn Nature Days and our remote classes routinely participated in virtual field trips aligned to their social studies curriculum. While this year presented many obstacles and tragedies the PS154 staff rose to the challenge and made sure that every student was seen, heard and engaged.
It is always difficult to find the words to express how deeply grateful we at PS 169 are for the remarkable work that our school community does every single day. This school year has been like no other, with many of us adapting to teaching very large classes of students who we may have never met in person in a fully remote setting. Others were feeling regular anxiety, coming to the building each day, worrying about possibly exposing ourselves to COVID-19. We have all had to adapt, in myriad ways, to what’s become our new normal, and it has been quite the task. While it’s true that educating children takes a village — from our incredible classroom teachers, to our tireless and talented educational assistants, to our remarkable team of school aides, to our compassionate guidance team, to our tireless Family Support Team, to our skilled Business Manager and Computer Technician, to our detail-oriented front office team, to our caring nurse, to our outstanding related services team, to our wise School-Based Support Team, to our hardworking custodial staff, to our kind safety agents and crossing guards, to our phenomenal kitchen staff — this has never been more true than this school year. We have all come together to support our Sunset Park community during a time of extreme stress for all of us. We are all true heroes of this pandemic.
In the 2020-2021 school year, PS 172 staff, students and their families participated in the “Black Lives Matter'' week of action. The school’s participation in the event was fostered by a grant the school received from the Zinn Education Project and Rethinking Schools and included some PS 172 alumni and parents as featured guest speakers. In addition to our equity work, PS 172 launched an academic after-school program to support students in need. Our after-school programming was expanded to include a PTA sponsored virtual enrichment program offering our students opportunities to explore a variety of interests including cooking, theater, ballet, Mad Science, Tae Kwon Do and coding, among others. PS 172’s remote classes benefited from a school partnership with MAPS (MusicArtPuppetryandTheater) while PS 172’s fifth grade classes were busy helping to pilot a new publishing program called Pressto. Our fifth graders also received a special year end treat-- a virtual author visit from noted author and poet Jacqueline Woodson. The year ended with a series of joyous in person graduation and moving-up ceremonies.
This year I am extremely proud of how my admin team at PS 230 as a whole worked diligently with parents and staff to maintain as much 'normalcy' as possible given the crisis we faced. We worked with our devoted PTA in order to ensure that we held our annual food and toy drives, picture days, and book fairs. Teachers worked with admin to hold true to honoring our graduates, especially our 5th grade. We held in-person and virtual 5th Grade Talent Shows as well as 7 in-person graduations in our beautiful gardens for all Blended and Remote classes. The Yearbook Committee organized an annual that celebrated and honored all students whether learning at home or in-person. These traditions were especially important to us given that 50% of our children, approximately 550 students, chose to learn fully remote. We wanted to ensure that no matter how your family chose for you to learn, everyone is truly a part of our rich, diverse and supportive community and we cannot wait to welcome everyone back in-person in the Fall!
The 2020-21 school year was one of the toughest years we all faced as educators. The PS 261 staff led with their hearts every step of the way. As tumultuous national events unfolded throughout the year, teachers talked about the events with their students and helped them process these complex social issues that were happening around them. With each event I kept asking myself, what support is needed for teachers as they have hard conversations with students. In collaboration with our school's equity liaison, this spring we were able to get a grant to strengthen our knowledge and skills in restorative practices. A coach from Morningside Center joined us to deepen our restorative circle practices. She worked to get staff new to facilitating restorative circles formally trained and did some 1:1 coaching with teachers that wanted to go deeper in their circle practice. Over the last several years we have been actively working to revamp our social studies to be more culturally responsive. The restorative circle work is an important layer of that curricular work. At PS 261 we know that in order to talk about complex historical and social events, we need to not only have the relevant materials and resources, but also need to create a classroom community where all voices and perspectives are welcome. Ultimately, giving space for our students to share what is on their hearts and minds is one of the ways we are trying to not only create a healing environment for them, but also give them an opportunity to process our complex world.
In a year like no other and my first as Principal of PS 295, I would say that I am most proud of how we've started to build a stronger community and collaboration among staff, students, and families. Administration, parents, teachers, and other staff members worked together to create virtual rooms to support our DEI work and help us work towards realizing our vision for a more inclusive and equitable school community. This is the link, PS 295 DEI Virtual Rooms from a slide that has all the virtual rooms we've shared this year. This work also led to a revision of the school's mission statement, our Social Studies curriculum, as well as to find a literacy program for grades K-2 that supports students in gaining the foundational skills they need to be successful readers and writers by the end of 2nd grade. These rooms and all the other initiatives we began will be a starting point for our work next year as a school community.
Despite the many challenges of this year, there are also so many highlights. Our whole community at PS 321--- staff and families—came together to make sure that both our 70% of students in the building and our 30% of students learning remotely had a rich, joyful learning experience this year. Teachers created remarkable communities both online and in the building. As we spent the month of June reflecting on the year, so many of us talked about the “silver linings,” and how we can carry them over into future school years. Our children met and exceeded reading benchmarks at the same rate as they did previous years, and it seemed that we were able to do this by really focusing our teaching. Having classroom teachers supervise their classes at a more structured outside play time was something we all valued and will be continuing next year. Our paraprofessionals really stepped up and did so much to support students. In March, reflecting on a year of the pandemic on a “Wall of Hope,” children wrote their dreams and wishes, and so many of them wrote about wanting to be in school 5 days a week. It was truly a joy to be able to have 900 children in the building safely 5 days a week for the last 7 weeks of school.
With all the challenges presented this year, our school community at MS 442 came together and thrived through them. We were able to maintain our academic standard, through our school’s virtual schedule called The Switchboard, which served as the meeting place for our students to join their classes. We were able to provide our remote-only students with all their core subjects as well as art, music, physical education and computer science. And when our blended students were learning from home, we were able to provide them with at least 180 minutes of live instruction. While maintaining our academic standard, we did not fail to include extra-curricular and co-curricular activities for ALL students, both remote and in person, keeping things as "normal" as possible. These included, but were not limited to: Lunch Connections, Bushwick Collective Art Project, Broadway Jr. virtual performance; Stingers Cup House competition, holding two, in-person graduation ceremonies, and Successful Soap Box Derby program.
While this school year was particularly challenging in many ways, it was also a year of remarkable growth and achievement at BHS. We instituted a new, significantly more intensive, instructional coaching program which more than doubled the number of teachers serving as instructional coaches; increased the frequency and depth of support offered to teacher mentees; provided every instructional coach with ongoing and intensive professional development; deepened our culture of feedback and trust while improving data literacy, reflective practices, and pedagogical insights; and positively impacted teacher practice and student outcomes across the school. We expanded our BHS Equity Team to encompass three distinct and cooperative branches: the Student Equity Branch, the Family Equity Branch, and the Faculty Equity Branch. We continued to build our targeted interventions program, with a specific focus on supporting readers more than two years behind grade level with research-backed interventions. Most importantly, the challenges of this school year inspired our entire school community to find new and innovative ways to elevate and amplify student voice and school-wide decision-making . Within all that we couldn't have predicted this school year, we were able to utilize our primary instructional objectives to continue to grow the rich and dynamic teaching.
Sunset Park Avenues Elementary has been at the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis, and our community experienced loss in every area: in human lives, in jobs, in housing, to name a few. Our teachers, staff members, and parents raised up and built the scaffolding necessary for our students to continue their education, adapt to remote learning and for our parent body to keep on functioning in their day-to-day, despite the difficulties. The school community rallied to provide what was needed, such as food, school materials to take home, health care vaccination site information, and mental health resources. Our school community stayed grounded in the knowledge that the school is there for students and parents as a holistic support system. Sunset Park Avenues staff members and families deserve the recognition and the appreciation for being the support network that builds belonging and trust. Our members are all agents of change who have strived to build a platform to uplift one another throughout a crisis; building us a stronger home with the clear goal to elevate the academic success and emotional learning of our children while making sure they adapted, and made it to the other side stronger, wiser, and more eager to be part of our school community. We look forward to starting strong in September of 2021.
In a year like no other in our shared history, Brooklyn High School of the Arts has been proud to maintain and advance our Arts and Academic offerings, while consistently having over 90% attendance/engagement over this time, as well as over a 90% graduation rate for the class of 2021! We were very excited to be able to offer full “on-site” instruction to our students who wanted it 5-days per week, beginning in March. Academically, we had great achievements, including 345 students taking an Advanced Placement Exam remotely. We had numerous Arts performances, including Music Concerts, Fine Art Gallery showings, and Musical Theater and Drama productions, all done remotely, using “state-of-the-art” technology to make it happen. And on June 4th, we had our return to “on-site” performance, with our Concert Band and Jazz Band performing in our Courtyard to an online audience of over 500 people, via our Brooklyn Arts YouTube Channel. Our Brooklyn Arts community is stronger than ever, and we look to build upon that as we get ready for a return to normalcy in September of 2021.
Because of the undeniable presence and contribution of our exceptional team, PS 896 has thrived regardless of all the challenges we faced this school year. As a school culminating its third year, I am inspired each day by what we have been able to accomplish with a mostly novice staff, a global pandemic and limited resources. Every day, I am provided with praise from parents about how members of our staff managed to help them through one of the most difficult years. I have also had reports of how diligently our staff helped students in realizing their potentials and how they assured families that the school is a safe haven. These stories and accolades make me proud to be the leader of the School of Creativity and Innovation. As a result of all of this hard work and dedication we have experienced significant growth in the following areas: Student Outcomes, Enrichment Opportunities and School Initiatives, Parental Engagement and Support. We look forward to strong partnerships with all our stakeholders as we prepare to welcome back students to in person learning and add another grade for the 2021-2022 school year.
MS 447 Honors AP Eli Smith
On March 27, 2021, MS 447 lost our beloved assistant principal, Eli Smith. Eli was a critical fixture in our school: He spent his career as an educator at 447, starting 17 years ago when he arrived as a new teacher. Soon, he became a steward for our Exploration program. In 2014, he became assistant principal. Eli led with integrity, always measuring his decisions against a high expectation for the best interests of our students. He was a kind and compassionate listener, and put great effort into building rapport with students, parents, and staff. Eli thrived in his collegial interactions and professional reflection. An exceptionally analytical person, Eli was also our problem-solver and the guy who got things done. Eli met his wife, Lindsey, here, and they eventually had two children, Evie and Beau. Eli gave so much to MS 447, and really shaped our school in beautiful ways. We miss him dearly and mourn his absence in our school and as our friend.
Diane came to BNS in 2007 as a student teacher. She stayed after graduation to work as a substitute teacher, growing into a special education teaching role in third grade ICT for many years that followed. Diane completed her administrative internship at BNS under Anna's mentorship, leading into the AP position in 2016. For the last several years, Diane & former BNS Principal Anna Allanbrook partnered to lead BNS through Anna's retirement, as we now move into the future.
I am thrilled to be joining the PS 107 community as interim acting principal. For the last 8 years, I have worked as an Assistant Principal at PS 2 in Manhattan's Chinatown (D2) and at PS 169 in Sunset Park. Prior to becoming an AP, I was a classroom teacher, ENL, and AIS/RtI teacher at PS 321. While at PS 169, I worked closely with the PS 107 parent-led Community Outreach team to provide support to PS 169 families experiencing a range of hardships. This was my introduction to PS 107, and I was struck by the compassion, generosity, and humility of the 107 community. It is a natural transition for me to be joining their team as principal. I am eager to continue building a joyful, equitable learning environment at PS 107, with social-emotional learning at the core of everything we do. In my outside-of-work time, I enjoy reading, following politics, and traveling with my husband, stepdaughter, and daughter.
I’m so excited to begin my work as a principal at PS 154, where I have worked as a teacher and instructional coach for the past eight years. I look forward to continuing to make our school a happy learning place for each and every student, and to leading our school in the journey toward equity and inclusion. Outside of school, I have many interests and hobbies, including traveling with my family, reading, knitting, and learning new skills. I look forward to supporting our wonderful teachers and families as we welcome everyone back to building in September!
Priscilla Figueroa's academic journey began in District 15 where she attended P.S. 32, P.S. 58 and later JHS 142. She remained a student in District 15 until high school. She is now the principal at PS676 in Red Hook Brooklyn, where she has been since 2017. Priscilla is humble, and thankful to have been selected for this position: "I wouldn’t pick any other school. I love the students, the parents, the community, it feels like home." During her time as principal, She has been able to forge partnerships with community organizations, such as the Harbor Highschool, Billion Oyster Project, Gowanus Conservatory, Portside NY, Red Hook Initiative and many others to support the needs of the community and school. Students have also worked with local politicians this year to fix the Hamilton Avenue Footbridge, to make it easier and safer for members of the community to travel from Carroll Gardens to Red Hook. Offering an opportunity for the two communities to come together to redesign the school as a Harbor and Maritime focused Waterfront educational facility. Creating a partnership with the Harbor High School to offer students careers in the field of harbor, as they learn value in their very own community. It brings her great pleasure to lead a Red Hook team of students, parents, and community members of PS 676. The universe has brought her full circle, back to where as a child she experienced learning, in order to help others build and follow a path to success, as a role model and advocate for the Red Hook community.
PS 29 Principal Fagin honors former Parent Coordinator, Mónica Gutierrez-Kirwan
Mónica was the first person I hired at PS 29 almost ten years ago, and we have worked in close partnership ever since. She has developed extraordinary rapport with our community, forging bonds and trust with all families, working particularly hard to reach those with obstacles. She will be missed by our 29 community but remains in the district 15 family as she will become part of the PS 124 staff as their new social worker.
My name is Althea Johnson and I am an Assistant Principal at PS 1. I am the current Supervisor for Grades 1 and 3 and am also the Supervisor for Special Education for which I have served in this capacity for the last 6 years. Although we are charged with developing learning experiences that address the needs of all students, it is uniquely even more so for our Students With Disabilities (SWD). It has been my honor to work with our school community to identify appropriate content, design flexible learning pathways and create classroom environments that consider diverse populations and their learning variability. At PS 1 a leading priority of mine has been ensuring meaningful and equitable access for diverse learners as well as all learners, no matter how complex. My mission toward a promising solution to these complex challenges lies in ensuring that we continue to intersect multiple equity-driven, research based pedagogical frameworks such as Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Differentiated Instruction and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) to support all of our students and their varying needs to ensure successful outcomes.
Dr. Robert Quinlan, AP of Academics & Guidance at Brooklyn HS of the Arts Honors Special Education US History Teacher Andrew Savage:
Mr. Savage is a highly dedicated, compassionate, and motivating teacher in his in-person and virtual classroom. He consistently demonstrates a commitment to teaching American History, exemplifies evidence of creativity and imagination in the classroom, and effectively uses documents, artifacts, oral histories and primary sources to engage students with American History. Much like President Franklin Delano Roosevelt utilized the radio medium during the Great Depression to ease the nation's fears and concerns amidst turbulent times in our nation's history, Mr. Savage leveraged digital learning platforms to empower students to maximize these new learning opportunities to express their fears, concerns, celebrations, and optimism for the future, also during an epoch of uncertainty.
Mr. Savage recently won NYS teacher of the year!
Karen Watts is the proud executive superintendent of Brooklyn North comprised of the elementary, middle and high schools in Districts 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 23 & 32. She leads with hope, love and science and is very proud of her achievements in supporting the emotional, social and academic growth of all students to ensure that they graduate ready for college and career and a successful life as a citizen of our connected world. She is especially proud of the eSTEM/eSTEAM vision for an enriched education for all students that she has championed across Brooklyn North. In her role as executive superintendent, Karen successfully united support and supervision and brought the Brooklyn North Borough Office and eight districts together so that there are eight cross-functional BCO/District Team structures of support for schools that provide wrap around service and support to all schools in each district and in so doing, she has championed equity of resources, both fiscal and human, for schools across Brooklyn North. She is very proud to have District 15, a leader in Integration, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, in her portfolio of districts and enjoys working alongside Superintendent Anita Skop to further this work in District 15, support District 15 families and ensure the social, emotional and academic success of every District 15 scholar!
Learn more about the Brooklyn North Team here: https://brooklynnorth.strongschools.nyc/about-us/our-teams
Principal Cristina Gonzalez Honors her PS 94 Staff Community
PS 94 has the kind of teachers that inspire students to be their best selves and encourage their peers to do the same. The teachers and staff of PS 94 have done the impossible this past school year. Averaging 97% attendance over the past 18 months, the staff of our school adapted quickly and seamlessly to the new models of learning necessitated by the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our students were excited to come to school every day, whether in person or on Zoom. We did this by continuing to rely on collaborative planning amongst grades and prioritizing Social Emotional Learning for our students and ourselves. The staff of PS 94 continues to provide the children and families of Sunset Park with a rigorous education and network of support grounded by genuine love and concern for the well-being of the community we serve. The societal upheaval and hardship of the last year shook us to the core; we lost family members, faced discrimination, and struggled with feelings of isolation. However, we leaned on each other and united we still stand; proud, strong, persevering and eager to welcome our students back to school and September.
PS 94 Principal Cristina Gonzalez Honors her Assistant Principals:
The Assistant Principals of PS 94 are a dynamic team of compassionate and talented educators that treat every student, parent, staff, and teacher as if they are family. Ms. Doris Corniel, Ms. Jean-Marie McInerney, Ms. Rose Rodriguez, and Ms. Sharon Valentin support the children and families of Sunset Park with devotion, respect, and genuine care. Gathered in their office after school or roaming the halls with a walkie talkie, these women greet every person, challenge, and opportunity with a smile and supportive ear. There is no problem too big for them to conquer or triumph too small for them to celebrate. Throughout the last year they have led department teams through the process of infusing Social Emotional Learning content and skills into each subject area, organizing and meticulously executing all health and safety protocols relating to COVID-19, as well as spending countless hours meeting with teachers and families to guide the children of our school through remote learning. Their hard work and collaboration ensure that PS 94 runs smoothly; from the safety of our hallways to the learning in the classroom. Their dedication and love for what they do is what keeps our school, not running, but flying!
Bernard Palmer has more than 30 years in the Human Resources area in Corporate America, Not for Profit and City agencies. A native New Yorker, Mr. Palmer received a BS in Marketing (University of Vermont) and MBA in Marketing and Management (University of Cincinnati). He worked with the Career readiness programs at the Children’s Aid Society, Dunlevy Milbank Center, Frederic Douglas Community center and the ALANA students of the University of Vermont. When asked what he enjoyed about his job, Mr. Palmer said: “What I extremely enjoyed was working and partnering with the True Education professionals. They all showed a strong commitment to the students, school community, parents and each other to ensure their students succeeded. Thank you and I will miss you all.”
For over 20 years, I have been a classroom teacher, reading specialist, and reading coach. For the past three years, I have held the role of Instructional Specialist (EA) with the Universal Literacy Initiative (ULit), in the Division of Early Childhood Education. I oversee and support the work of a team of 46 Universal Literacy Reading Coaches who serve 56 schools in Districts 15, 19, and 22. I visit the coaches at their school sites and observe them as they support the teachers in their coaching cycles. During my visits, I provide feedback to the coaches, discuss next steps, and meet with school leaders to discuss supports for the schools and how we can best meet the needs of teachers and students. I plan and deliver professional learning for my team of coaches during monthly team meetings. I also provide professional development on early literacy content, pedagogy, assessment, and the craft of coaching for all ULit coaches through structured Reading Coach Professional Learning Sessions (RCPLS). I offer ongoing support to the districts through participation in BCO meetings and instructional team meetings. In addition, I provide targeted support for teachers and school communities in Brooklyn North and Brooklyn South through targeted PD for teachers on phonemic awareness, phonics, and the science of reading as well as workshops for families focused on promoting children’s early literacy acquisition and improving accessibility to resources. This year, I will be involved in the delivery of professional learning to new teachers hired to the NYCDOE during New Teacher Week, the week of August 30th. My experiences as an instructional specialist with the Initiative have been quite fulfilling and rewarding. Knowing that effective instruction is the most important factor in improving student achievement, I am happy to be involved in the improvement of the quality of instruction in all classrooms so that all students can read and write proficiently and meet grade level expectations by second grade.
The Brooklyn North office promotes equity and achievement for students with disabilities through collaboration with school communities. Through our support of school leaders, students, families, and community members, we help cultivate knowledge and skills in the area of Special Education to ensure that students' needs are met with thoughtfulness and integrity.
Lisa Weis began her time in the NYC DOE in Sunset Park at P.S. 24. She served there as a fifth-grade teacher and literacy coach for 10 years. She is currently an ELL Instructional Coach at the Brooklyn North BCO and is thrilled to be back working in District 15. Lisa has a passion for dual language education and has dedicated her 24 years as an educator to working with students, teachers, and administrators to meet the needs of linguistically diverse learners. Lisa and the other ELL Instructional Coaches on her team have most recently provided professional learning opportunities for school staff to learn about QTEL (Quality Teaching for English Learners), the Guiding Principles for Dual Language Education, and retaining practices from blended and remote learning to continue to support ML/ELLs. She is excited to continue her work with District 15 schools as we move into the 2021-2022 school year.
Sandy Mastropaolo- Riconda has been part of the Brooklyn North Borough Office team for the past 6 years and is thrilled to join the District 15 Support Team as the Academic Policy, Performance & Assessment Specialist. Bringing with her over 18 years professional experience in the Department of Education, she began her career teaching at PS48 in District 20, then supporting schools across the city as a Instructional Literacy Coach with CFN410 and holding the position of Assistant Principal in D24 before joining the Brooklyn North Borough Office in 2015. Over the years, Sandy has had the great privilege of working with some amazing instructional leaders in support of building students’ literacy proficiency and developing teacher knowledge and practice when supporting young readers and writers. There is nothing that gives Sandy more pleasure than seeing that, “Ah-Ha!” moment in the eyes of young scholars and teachers/leaders when theory meets practice and the result is success as ideas are applied in real world, day-to-day situations! Sandy believes that cross-functional collaborations are the key to building strong, meaningful practice and systems. She believes that reflective conversations about the work at hand today, and future goals are critical to meet the needs of teachers and students as they navigate this ever-changing educational system and the tech heavy world we live in. She believes in meeting individuals where they are now socially, emotionally, and academically to support them in achieving endless possibilities in the future. Sandy looks forward to supporting the leadership and communities of D15 as we navigate this new educational system that COVID has forced us to build over the past year 17 months, taking with her strong practices that have proven successful and developing new practices alongside the D15 team.
Anthony is the Director for Multilingual Learners/English Language Learners for the Brooklyn North Borough Office. He and his team are committed to supporting our 232 schools throughout our 7 community school districts to meet the instructional and policy needs for our ML/ELL students and their families. Throughout the pandemic the ML/ELL team has provided professional learning that focused on instructional practices that promote language acquisition for our multilingual students in both blended and remote settings. Moving forward, the team will continue to support our teachers to use the innovative practices they learned over the past 17 months. Also, with the use of online meeting platforms, the team was able to provide more personalized, one-to-one policy support for our schools that ranged from LAP and Title III Plan revisions to ML/ELL programming. Anthony is also the director lead for the BCO team that supports District 15. He and the team look forward to supporting the district and its schools for the upcoming school year.
As a Teacher Development and Evaluation Coach for District 15, I have been coaching our principals and assistant principals for the past seven years to improve their performance with respect to teacher effectiveness as informed by student outcomes. What I love most about working in District 15 are the incredibly high levels of school leader and teacher capacity, peer collaboration, and progressive ways of instruction. Prior to that, I was an assistant principal and teacher in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Most recently, I also received my 200-hour yoga and mindfulness teaching certification and have been trained by the International Coaching Federation.
I have been working as the Administrative Assistant for District 15 for the past 2 years. I have learned so much from Superintendent Skop and my team members about our district in the last 2 years. They have taught me that supporting our district’s families, principals, teachers and administrators is the number one priority. My team has shown me that anything I contribute to help the district is important, no matter how small, be it a flyer for a meeting or just sharing important updates on our website and social media, everything and anything is important and appreciated. I have lived in District 15 for many years and my children have attended D15 schools. I am very happy with the education my children received, with the amazing teachers they had and the support and leadership of each principal. Working in the D15 superintendent’s office has been a great way to give back to the community that has given so much to my family. District 15 is an amazing community that focuses on diversity, inclusion and equity. Being part of this community has been a pleasure and something that I am very proud of.
As the Director of Continuous Improvement, I work with school leaders in our district to support with challenges that they are facing. I have worked in District 15 since January 2020, and I am incredibly proud of how our school communities worked so hard to overcome obstacles during the pandemic. I love working in District 15 because of our shared core values around equity and fairness. Prior to working in District 15, I was an Advance Policy Lead in the Brooklyn North Borough Office and I spent years as a teacher at PS180 in Harlem. While I miss being with kids, I love my work in supporting our schools!
I joined the District 15 Superintendent’s team six years ago with over twenty-five years of experience working with children and families in Head Start. District 15 was my community for over thirty years and my children attended elementary school at PS 94 in Sunset Park where they received an excellent education and were exposed to the beautiful mosaic that our community was and continues to be. As the District 15 Family Support Coordinator, I collaborate with colleagues from my team, BCO, schools, and other DOE offices to provide our families and school communities with the most accurate information and provide support with their concerns and escalations for the best possible outcome. It is important to me to provide support while always maintaining a sense of empathy, fairness, and respect for all even in the most challenging and difficult situations. I am so proud to work alongside the most dedicated individuals and to be part of a school district that embraces and is a champion for education, diversity, equity, and inclusion!
Dennis Martinez joined the NYC Department of Education in 2013. Prior to joining the Brooklyn North family, he was the Director of Special Projects in the Office of the Chief Operating Officer; his portfolio on the School Readiness team included the citywide coordination, planning and implementation for the First Day of School and Summer in the City. Dennis also served as Senior Director of Operations in the former Office of Field Support, Program Manager for the Showcase Schools program, and as a Project Manager for Common Core Professional Development. Prior to his career in education, Dennis spent 8 years in the Financial Services industry, as a field trainer and business development specialist. Dennis is the co-founder of the Mindfulness at Work Employee Resource Group in the DOE and a graduate of the LeadDOE program. Born and raised in New York and a student of NYC public schools, he is proud to contribute to the success and future of the students and families of Brooklyn North. In his spare time Dennis enjoys running, home improvement projects and spending time with his wife and two daughters, Amelie (4) and Elodie (1). When asked what he enjoys about his job Dennis said: “I am in the business of supporting our schools. I really enjoy working with Principals, our partner offices and District Leadership to resolve issues, advocate for our students, interpret policy and provide them with resources and guidance they need, so they can spend less time navigating the DOE and more time focused on serving our students and our communities.”
My name is Carmela Favuzza and I am proud to be part of the Brooklyn North team! I joined the team in 2018 after working as an assistant in the medical field for 17 years. Being surrounded by educators in my family, it was always a goal of mine to work in the education field where I can support all the amazing work happening in our schools. As an administrative assistant, I proudly support all the administrators to ensure that they have what they need to continue to impact our schools. I was fortunate enough to join the amazing team at 131 Livingston street, and they warmly welcomed me into their family. Whether it is providing supplies, coordinating meetings, or supporting procurement needs, I take great pride in all I do to support the Brooklyn North family. I look forward to continuing my professional journey with New York's brightest!
I have had the pleasure of serving District 15 for the past 10 years and I have seen the district grow from amazing to spectacular! My role at the Borough Office has led me to make profound friendships and given me an opportunity to work alongside some of the most caring, loving, dedicated and intelligent people in education. The most rewarding aspect of my job is to be part of a collaborative district that values all of its schools, staff and families. To see how talent grows exponentially in D15 fills me me with gratification and gratitude!
Precious is a native Brooklynite. She attended New York City public schools, graduating from Fashion Industries High School and the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT.) She has worked in the fields of Fashion, Human Services, Fundraising and Education, developing many of the skills she employs in her former and current positions. Precious' earliest work in education was as a volunteer, serving as a Parent Teacher Association (PTA) President and School Leadership Team (SLT) member as well as sitting on various committees for the Department of Education. In 2003, she became the first Parent Coordinator for Public School 8 in Brooklyn Heights. As a parent, Precious knows the importance of building strong relationships between families and schools. In 2007, she was hired for the position of District Family Advocate now referred to as Family Leadership Coordinator for District 13. In that position, Precious supported all District 13 schools in building home-school ties. In 2019, Precious began a new role as the first Executive Assistant to Brooklyn North Executive Superintendent Karen Watts. When asked what she likes about her job, she said: “I really enjoy connecting with various parts of leadership, from the Chancellor to Superintendents.”
Watch Supt. Skop talk about our district's collaboration with Brooklyn North