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theschoolboards
04-09-2012, 10:45 AM
From Schoolbook (http://www.nytimes.com/schoolbook/2012/04/09/saul-gootnick-you-have-to-do-baby-steps/) by Maria Newman:

Saul Gootnick runs Forest Hills High School, one of New York Cityís largest and most successful high schools. At a time when small schools are in vogue and big schools are a dying breed, Forest Hills has more than 3,800 students learning on shifts, yet has earned an A on its progress report three years in a row and has an 87 percent graduation rate.

Q. Large high schools have gotten a bum rap in New York City under Mayor Bloomberg. Do you feel like big schools are under attack?

A. Weíre a large neighborhood high school thatís really succeeding. When I first took over, most people in the community didnít want to send their children here. Now everybody in the borough wants to send their children here. Weíre the only large high school in Queens thatís gotten an A three years in a row.

Q. What changed?

A. I think they realize that at our school, the focus is on education. But itís not what I did, itís what we did. It wasnít me. Itís what everybody in this building did ó itís my cabinet, itís my teachers, itís secretaries, itís my paras, itís my aides. Ultimately, though, everyone has to be on the same page, because if youíre not on the same page, thereís going to be some problems.

Q. What are some of the initiatives you launched after you became principal?

A. Compared to schools in our neighborhood, our attendance wasnít as good as it should have been. Also, not enough of our students were taking the Regents exams. They were taking the classes, but not the exams.

Q. What did you do about attendance?

A. We made it a priority. We created an attendance coordinator position. We used to take attendance during periods 2 and 10 ó we have 12 periods ó but we realized that lot of students were not showing up for first period. So now, beginning in December, we take attendance in Period One class and if a kid isnít here, we make a phone call home. The result has been, Period One attendance has increased by 30 percent.

Attendance is fundamental to everything. If a child is not in school, he canít pass his classes.

read more>> (http://www.nytimes.com/schoolbook/2012/04/09/saul-gootnick-you-have-to-do-baby-steps/)