by Sophia Chok ’20
Often when students thinks of a principal, chills run down their spine. Principals are usually thought of as strict, mean and authoritative figures. However, our acting principal, Mr. David Newman, is the exact opposite. He replaced our last principal, Mr. Randy Asher, last January, when Mr. Asher was offered a senior advisory position to work with Carmen Fariña in the City Education Department to help shrink the absent teachers reserve pool. This pool consists of teachers who lost their jobs due to school closure or budget cuts. However, they still get full pay checks from the city, costing an estimated $100 million annually.
Mr. Newman has worked in the educational field for over 18 years and Brooklyn Tech is one of his earliest jobs in his teaching career. He first was a Social Studies teacher for ten years. He then became the head of the Social Studies department as Assistant Principal for the last seven years.
Behind closed doors, Newman meets with people 24/7. He listens to issues and addresses them to the best of his ability. Even at home, he is answering emails from parents and superintendents. Being the principal of Brooklyn Tech is no easy feat, nevertheless, Mr. Newman is eager to take on this challenge. “There’s never a dull moment in the building,” he states.
Although his schedule is very busy and hectic, he was able to fit us in for an interview to answer questions about next year.
Q: What are your plans next year?
Next year, I plan to work on school spirit, which I think it’s very meaningful. I also plan to expand on Major Wars next year. We are also planning an advisory course for freshman next year. I think that would give them a better footing.
Q: What’s the structure of next year’s Advisory for freshmen? Are there going to be any training for teachers? (Anonymous teacher)
We are currently meeting with interested partners and educators for Advisory. The course would be a blended model of teachers and advisors. We are working with an organization for this class. There will definitely be training for teachers.
Q: What are some long term changes you want to implement? Even though this is your first year as principal, what will be your “fingerprints” on the Tech after you leave?
Well, first I definitely want to be appointed principal and finish my career here. Currently, the school is in a good place. However, I do want to make AP classes for everybody and fine tune the classes, especially for AP Computer Science. I think AP Computer Science is a very important class that everybody should take and there’s always room for improvement. I also want to have prefects meet for 45 minutes to an hour every month to speak with their guidance counselors. I want to increase the communication between people.
Q: What are some ways that you have connected with the students at Tech? Have you tried interacting with students often?
Yes, I have been interacting with the students. We have Snacks with the Principal, where we sit together in groups of 6 or 7 and I can listen to their concerns. Just through Snacks with the Principal, I have met with 400 kids, However, there are 5,800 kids so a little bit at once and over time I will be with more. Students can stop into the office and tell me their concerns. If there’s an idea, I will try to enact it. The students’ inputs are heard until the needs of students are met.
Q: Is it possible for you to improve the seating issue in the cafeteria? There aren’t enough seats for everyone, so many students end up sitting on the floor. (XiaoJun Zheng ’20)
Actually, our entire cafeteria is changing and being completely revamped by the city in the fall. The cafeteria will have a more college campus vibe to it and there will definitely be more seats, so look forward to it next September.
Q: Have you considered out lunch for students? (Sen Lin ’20)
Well we have considered but it would not be great. Our concern is whether every kid can eat in 40 minutes. There’s also safety concerns because we can’t control what goes on outside. It’s very nerve wracking letting everyone out. There are just too many concerns, though our community would love it. We are thinking about possibly a privilege for seniors to go to the courtyard since our school has one. We are open to new ideas.
Q: There is a 15% homework grade which is relatively high compared to other specialized high schools. Also some teachers don’t accept late homework at all regardless of a valid reason. Do you think our homework policy is too difficult? What can you do to change it? (Anonymous Student)
Well, in the Social Studies department it’s 25%. Each department is different. I think our homework policy is reasonable and works well with kids. The problem is that it is inconsistently followed. The assistant principals will need to enforce it and if a student has a complaint, they will need to have a chat with that teacher. Administrators are here to evaluate teachers. Homework is necessary and should be used to educate and enrich students, if not it’s futile.
Q: Often students are afraid of principals, so what are some ways that you can change that mindset for current and incoming students?
I think there’s this stigma that nothing good happens in the office, but it’s the exact opposite. We are open to conversations and more opinions to make an even better education environment. We aren’t strict and students can speak about issues and how they feel about them.
“Come and get to know your principal, it’s their [the students’] school. The school is a reflection of what they desire.”
—Mr. David Newman