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Where are the Girls? Grace for President

Where are the Girls!

I had a nice little surprise last week when a found a Cobble Hill Playschool shout-out in

In a previous Carol’s Wall, I wrote about this book.   A lesson I taught many years ago allowed a real little girl to decide to right a wrong and become the first woman President.  This moment in time became the catalyst to create the children’s book, GRACE FOR PRESIDENT.

The first pages of the book portray the event that sparked it all as it really happened.  It was an election year and I was in the classroom at CHP talking about the President. I showed the children a poster of the presidents and asked them to count the girls.  The children counted every president in a white wig.  When I explained that they were not girls but boys, they were shocked. 

Grace was a preschooler who was genuine about her path in life. Until the day she left CHP, she was determined to be our first woman President.  I read that as a young child, Frank Lloyd Wright planned to be an architect. Jane Goodall had big dreams too, dreams to work with apes in Africa. Little children can have big dreams and I remember that each day I walk into the classroom.

Now at age 16, Grace no longer wants to be the president.  But Grace has spunk and will surely follow her current dreams  -- to be a forensic pathologist, book store owner, or if she changes her mind, maybe even the President. 

It is amazing to think that over ten years after this teaching moment, this book was published. Nice to know that GRACE FOR PRESIDENT is still in the news. I am so glad for that!

Welcome Carmen Farina, NYC’s New School Chancellor!

Three years ago, I wrote a Carol’s Wall about the proposed appointment of a new city school chancellor.  I was so upset about the appointment of Cathie Black, that I included an online petition to deny her the waiver she needed to assume the position.  I made the argument that the best person to serve as chancellor was someone with a deep understanding of teaching, a vast knowledge of education theory, and an abundance educational administrative experience.

I was so thrilled when it was announced that Carmen Farina would serve as our new school chancellor! Carmen has all those requirements and more. She is veteran classroom teacher from PS 29, former Principal, Superintendent of District 15, Deputy Chancellor of city schools, and has been longtime educational advisor and advocate of early childhood education.

As far as her qualification for chancellor is concerned, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “She knows it because she’s lived it,” and I could not agree with him more! 

For the past few years, it saddened me to learn how developmentally inappropriate early childhood education had become.  I did not want to, but I could not help but wonder if teaching to the test would become the norm in the New York City DOE.  In her years as an educational advocate, Carmen has de-emphasized standardized testing as a major factor in measuring performance and “teaching to the test.” 

I am also so proud that I had the opportunity to work with Carmen in the past and trust that she will do the right thing for every school-aged child in our fair city.  I am also so happy for every parent and child who leaves CHP to go off to the world of NYC public schools headed by a wonderful child advocate school chancellor who will surely make the changes needed to return our schools to excellence. 

What a way to start a new year!

To learn more about Ms. Farina, please visit:

The Observer’s Rankings of New York’s TOP 160 Schools of 2012

This past Monday morning, I arrived early at my desk to begin my regular, post-weekend ritual—putting my things away, checking the phone messages, reading my emails.  The first email I came upon was from a member of our school building’s condo board; some of you know that I have served on the Maritime’s condo board since CHP took ownership of our school space in 2004.  The email concluded with a congratulatory message—for being named the fifth-best preschool in New York City, as ranked by The New York Observer’s Scooter magazine.  I promptly emailed a thank-you and decided to find out what this news was all about!  Before logging off my email to start investigating, I received another another email message, saying that I could find a stack of the New York Observer Scooter magazines in the building’s lobby.

Magazine in hand, I found out that the New York Observer had ranked 160 of the top preschool, elementary, middle and high schools, both public and private, from the thousands of schools in New York City.  The Observer described its readership as based in Brooklyn and Manhattan, so the final list emphasizes these boroughs.  Schools were ranked on six dimensions:  buildings and facilities, faculty, culture and arts, curriculum, family involvement and athletics.  Rankings were compiled with the consultation of over 80 experts - school coaches, educational professionals and activist parents.  I was so proud to see that CHP was rated fifth overall on the list of preschools, with an “A” in all categories and an “A+” in Culture/Arts and Curriculum.

As an introduction to the list of preschool rankings, the title page read:

Preschools--They’re entrance points for the competitive world of NYC schools.  But for now, play-based, good times rule.  These are the schools you’ll want your littlest ones to attend to begin building the blocks towards higher education.

You can find the complete list of rankings here.

A big thank-you to the entire CHP community, past and present, for making our school what it is – a place where “play-based, good times rule!”

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