A Site Coordinator's Early Childhood Journey!
As I sit down to reflect on my 35 years as an educator at NYC Public Schools, I'm filled with a sense of gratitude. My current role as the site coordinator at Z075 has been pivotal for me, and since the launch of our early childhood program eight years ago, I have witnessed and contributed to its remarkable evolution and success.
My professional journey began in Brownsville, Brooklyn, District 23, where I dedicated 25 years to teaching kindergarten, ICT classes, science, physical education, as well as serving as a testing coordinator. When my initial school was phased out, it was time to move on to the next chapter.
It was now the year 2015, and as I was searching for a new opportunity, a significant milestone was marked in New York City with then-mayor Bill DeBlasio's announcement of the Pre-K for All initiative. Motivated by the exciting news, I applied for a teaching position in the Pre-K centers of District 20. My interview with Mrs. Dianne Gounardes, the then-newly appointed director of early childhood, was nothing short of inspiring as we connected over our love of teaching and our many combined years working for NYC Public Schools. It was during this interview that Mrs. Gounardes, recognizing my extensive experience, suggested I apply for the position of site coordinator. Site coordinators play a critical leadership role in our city’s Pre-K centers, acting as the right hand of assistant principals and ensuring the smooth operation of each center.
After sharing the news with my husband, who agreed that I was a strong candidate for the newly discovered position, I felt ready for this new challenge. Thus began my time at Z075 alongside then Assistant Principal Lauren Napolitano. Our program started from scratch as we all worked together to build a collaborative framework involving teachers, administration, parents, and the community. We focused on defining the core of our program, and together, we grew as a formidable team. Our classrooms transformed into dynamic spaces where the city’s youngest students learned while they played and played while they learned.
The journey, however, was not without its trials. The arrival of Covid-19 was a test of our resilience and adaptability. We had to make swift transitions and learn new ways of doing things such as virtual platforms like Zoom. It all added a new dimension to our eight-year journey, and this period tested our resolve like never before.
The impact of Covid-19 hit me personally when my beloved husband succumbed to the virus. It was during this period that the true essence of our program shone through. We were more than an educational institution; we were a family. The unwavering support from Mrs. Gounardes, our assistant principals, my fellow site coordinators, and many staff members was a testament to our strong bond. Additionally, Dr. Pretto, our newly appointed District 20 Superintendent whom I had not had the pleasure of meeting, reached out with his thoughts and condolences. All this support from so many truly reinforced our family bond.
As the years continued, we've expanded our horizons by touching upon the Reggio Emilia approach, focusing on social-emotional learning, and introducing a vibrant STEAM program. The addition of our 3-K program brought new energy. At Z075, I have six classrooms of three-year-olds in addition to our Pre-K classrooms and they are making remarkable progress every day.
As I continue my journey at Z075, I am deeply humbled for the opportunity to impact the lives of early childhood students in District 20 and to collaborate with an exceptional team of educators. Here's to more years of learning, growing, and thriving together!