P.S. 154 Jonathan D. Hyatt
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A principal who believes learning is more than test prep
Recovering from low staff morale
Under new leadership, PS 154 is trying to recover from low morale and internal strife among teachers as shown on several years of Learning Environment Surveys.
For a few years things looked promising at PS 154, as test scores crept up and the school adopted lessons from Teacher’s College, Columbia University, centered around lots of writing and fun-to-read books. Unfortunately, performance fell and the atmosphere soured during a period of changes in administration.
Linda Amill-Irizarry replaced principal Cynthia Ballard in 2008, but resigned after one year when a staff member anonymously wrote allegations about her on a blog. Marsha Elliot took over in 2009 but left in 2012 during a time of great dissatisfaction among teachers, who had complaints about safety, communication and more. The city’s report card that year was rock-bottom.
The Learning Environment Survey shows some improvement under Alison Coviello, who took the helm in 2012. Coviello taught 4th and 5th grades in the South Bronx for over ten years. She received her doctorate in Curriculum and Teaching from Teachers College. According to an online biography: “she is interested in how public schools can prepare students from low-income backgrounds for participatory citizenship amidst an educational context dominated by standardized testing.”
PS 154 serves children from one of the poorest areas of the city. Some of the students live in homeless shelters or in foster care, and many of their parents are high school dropouts. Large housing developments surround the school. The school has a large population of children with special needs.
The building is shared with the South Bronx Classical Charter School II, which opened in 2013.
Admissions: Neighborhood school (Lydie Raschka, web reports and DOE data, October 2013)