View Full Version : Staten Island Q&A with Rose Kerr, principal of #1 rated school in NYC's 2011 progress report

10-30-2011, 11:25 PM
From N.Y. Times (http://www.nytimes.com/schoolbook/2011/10/31/rose-kerr-paint-the-big-picture/) by Amy Padnani:
Rose Kerr is the principal of the Staten Island School of Civic Leadership, Staten Islandís first K-8 school, which opened its doors in 2009. It is based on the philosophy of Stephen Covey, the author of ďThe Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.Ē

In an interview, Ms. Kerr, 57, who grew up in East New York and attended parochial school, talked about the challenge of creating a rich curriculum for students at the same time that they face pressure to do well on standardized tests. Ms. Kerrís salary was $140,000 in 2010.

Q. What was your mission for this school?

A. There were three pillars that we based the proposal on: Civic leadership, parent involvement and academics. At the time, the world was crying out for leaders. Where are we going to find the leaders? Weíre going to find them among our young people. We appreciate that in high school students start to take leadership roles. They become service learners, they go to nursing homes, they get internships. But why only begin there? Why not begin in pre-K?

Our parents are also very important to us. I think parents feel good about their child going to this special school. Some children come here from single parent homes, some of immigrant parents. Some donít speak English. We have over 20 percent special needs in this school. But the great exhilaration is that the children rise to the occasion with us.

And one of our biggest tenets is a strong academic foundation. We were given a gift ó we were told we could hire the teachers we wanted. The first year it was whoever we wished, and then it was a 60-40 split. It turned out to be a great mix of new teachers, middle teachers and teachers with more experience. We were able to show that it isnít only a private school or charter school that can achieve. Itís a public school ó a regular public school ó that can achieve.

Q. You seem surprised there was so much support for a public school. Why?

A. Sometimes thereís a sense that the public school system isnít working ó letís throw the baby out with the bathwater. Letís get rid of this and letís start again and letís create a private system around it. Iíve been in this system for many, many years. Iíve worked in other industries. Teachers are the hardest working, dedicated people anywhere, and they work with very little. As good as private schools are, and as good as charter schools are, public schools are just as good.

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