In the latest Principal's Office interview, the principal of New Dorp High School on Staten Island says her large high school is working for her students -- and can be a model to help preserve other large high schools in the city. "There are advantages to small schools for a certain kind of kid, but there’s something about the community of a large school that you can’t replace," she says.
Members of the education community on Staten Island said they don’t need to hear from Borough President James P. Molinaro or his representative to the Panel for Educational Policy to predict what will happen on Thursday, when the panel will vote on the first school closing on Staten Island since mayoral control of the schools. “The parents might be disadvantaged economically, but they're not stupid,” said a former Staten Island representative to the panel.
The announcements came year after year: Eight schools to shut down in Manhattan. Ten in the Bronx. Six in Brooklyn. Two in Queens. None on Staten Island. It was hard for Staten Islanders not to develop a degree of superiority when it came to school closings. But now a Staten Island school, P.S. 14, is on the list of 19 city schools to be closed. Some see it as a political decision to close a Staten Island school. And many say the school is facing daunting challenges in the poverty-related problems of its students.
Because of a new program P.S. 41 in Staten Island launched earlier this month, the "college" word will be used a lot more within the school’s walls, said Elise Feldman, the principal. The program teaches students about the importance of getting a college education, and it's based on the belief that it's never too early to start planning for it.
The principal of a transfer school on Staten Island says his staff provides personal attention to students that is not available at big high schools, serving as the "mom and pop store" to the big-box chain stores. And it shows in the results. "They should be knocking down the door to get here," he says.
The Staten Island School of Civic Leadership was rated No. 1 on the city's progress report this year, but its principal, Rose Kerr, says it is "every principal and every teacher's challenge" to remember that "a child is not just a test taker.''