Recently, PS 24 Principal Donna Connelly sat down with The Press for a question and answer session.
She discussed some positive changes that have taken place at the school and defended her position on gifted and talented programs and special education. She also responded to the myriad criticisms she has faced since taking over last fall. Four teachers have transferred out since Donna Connelly began, and the school got an F on the environment portion of its progress report card, according to the Department of Education. Ms. Connelly explained her education philosophy and discussed some of the changes taking root at PS 24.
Q. Since taking over as principal you have changed the way scheduling operates, going from a five-day schedule to one that works on a six-day rotation. You have also hired seven new people and added lunchtime enrichment classes. What other changes have you brought to PS 24 and what is your vision for the school?
A. By changing the program to a six-day cycle we were able to create common preps, which means all of the teachers on a grade are free for an entire period to work together — communicate over student progress, test scores, make plans for instruction. Last year teachers were able to meet only once out of five days. Now they meet six times over six days. So it’s a huge change for the teachers.
The enrichment clubs, which are a result of the programming, run periods four, five and six. The enrichment club teachers pick up and drop the children from the lunchroom and also keep track of progress. For example, the chess teacher levels the children and moves them from chess level one to chess level two. All the teachers in the disciplines are doing the same thing. I do think it will have an impact on the students’ reading, math and general understanding of the world. No question about that.